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“You need to think about long-term trends”

BBC Studios’ Julie Kekwick on continuing to invest in the preschool space.

With Brand Licensing Europe fast approaching, The Source caught up with a number of licensors and agents with successful properties in the preschool space to find out their plans for the remainder of the year, thoughts on the retail landscape and trends.

Today: Julie Kekwick, senior licensing manager, BBC Studios

Can you run through how the licensing programmes for your preschool brands are shaping up?

We are very pleased with how the licensing programme for Hey Duggee is shaping up. The series has had a fantastic year, some notable highlights being the huge popularity of The Stick Song and The Kick Song, as well as our Hey Duggee apps exceeding 2.5 billion downloads worldwide.

Moments like these contribute toward excitement from licensees toward the brand.  We’ve expanded softline listings across nightwear and daywear through our licensees Aykroyds, TDP Textiles and Blues. We’ve made good progress on the toy sales going into AW18, too.

There has been a good response to Golden Bear’s refreshed Hey Duggee lines, and we are working on an expanded product offering for AW19 (as well as expanding the toy deal until 2020).  Also, Golden Bear’s Mr Tumble Something Special continues to perform, with new TV advertised product lines and the Mr Tumble Domino Train set to perform well.


Will there be any new launches or sneak peaks of upcoming brands around BLE?

We cannot say much about new brands such as Bluey, which we have international merchandise and distribution rights for, but we will continue to invest in new preschool. New series are in development for Something Special (Series 12), Hey Duggee and Go Jetters – both series three. We, of course, have a great trusted platform in CBeebies which continues to be loved by parents.

Have you seen any major trends emerging over the course of 2018 in the preschool space? As a brand owner, how have you been able to react to those?

With the Kids Insights research showing 74% ownership of tablets for the under seven year olds, means ensuring access to our brands across SVOD platforms is something we addressed last year. Deals were inked with Amazon Prime Video and Netflix, which saw some of BBC Studio’s prime preschool content such as Hey Duggee, Go Jetters and Sarah & Duck become available on both platforms.

The growing popularity of collectables cannot be ignored either. In response, we are relaunching the Hey Duggee talking Squirrels soft toys so they will be available for all consumers to collect for the first time.


Ensuring core brand values are reflected in product lines continues to be key as well. For instance, the new Hey Duggee Woof Woof plush toy comes with badges and embroidered badges on the plush itself play sounds, phrases and the theme tune from the show.

In addition, the Something Special Mr Tumble Track set, although outside of the world captured in the TV series, reflects all the comedy and fun of the brand by featuring fun sounds and phrase from the show.

We are also working with licensees across our portfolio and retailers to up the presence of our brands on their social media platforms. We also have in-house owned social channels for Hey Duggee and Go Jetters which are instrumental in communicating what new product we have coming out to our consumers.


How healthy do you think the preschool licensed sector is in general?

We think it is healthy. A lot of brands are performing and there are lots of new entrants in the sector, which of course makes it more competitive too. Continued long-term investment, with great high quality content is key – we are lucky to have access to both.

How easy is it for new brands to break through at the moment?

It is getting harder. You need to think about your USP, long-term trends and the competitive nature of the sector. The changing retail landscape make forecasting more creative. Strong licensee and retail relationships are also key.

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