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UK Hardlines Senior Category Manager, Penguin Ventures

Penguin Ventures
Depending on Experience
Permanent, Full Time
Hybrid. London HQ


Deadline: midnight on Tuesday 25th July. 


Penguin Ventures, the licensing and consumer product division of Penguin Random House Children’s UK, is looking for an ambitious and innovative Senior Category Manager to drive our UK hardlines business, manage the existing licensee portfolio and seek out and secure new business to grow the category and deliver incremental revenue.  

This position is focused on the UK market, and reports to the Commercial Director for Penguin Ventures. Whilst the role centres on our Children’s brands, existing experience in the Children’s space is not essential – we’re even more interested in someone who brings proven category management experience in hardlines and is excited by the opportunity to manage and grow such a key part of our Ventures business.


About Penguin Ventures 

We’re off the page and on an adventure.  

We take our iconic literary brands and characters: Peter Rabbit, The World of Eric Carle, The Snowman, Spot and Flower Fairies and bring them to life via our licensing and consumer products programme. We connect with our audience and fans at every touch point – whether that’s on products, at retail, part of promotions, across digital or through our comprehensive live experiences–we manage this in house through our expert team.


The Opportunity  

In this role you will build and grow strong relationships with like-minded partners who share our values and understand what is right for our brand. Our hardlines portfolio ranges from toys and games to food & beverage, gifting, crockery, greeting cards, coin collections and more. We work directly with all our partners in the UK, including the likes of Rainbow, Orange Tree, Enesco, New English Teas, Tony’s, The Royal Mint, UK Greetings, The Westminster Collection, Fox’s Biscuits, Moonpig, and Hallmark.


Your core focus will be:

  • To develop and deliver the category strategy for the UK hardlines business and to influence the creative and brand strategies, in order to support the growth of the UK hardlines business.
  • To manage the UK hardlines licensee portfolio as well as seek out and secure new business to grow the category and deliver revenue to the annual Penguin Ventures budget.
  • To aid retail conversations working with the Head of Retail to drive retail initiatives with your licensees.


Candidate Profile 

  • Excellent knowledge of the UK licensing industry; the key partners and relevant retailer buyers.
  • An in-depth knowledge and experience of UK hardlines categories with a specific focus on toys, games and gifting.
  • The ability to pitch a clear and engaging product proposition that works in service to the brand and creative strategies, but also meets the needs of the licensee, retailer, and end consumer.
  • A great communicator who can be persuasive in making their argument while balancing the views of others.
  • A big-picture thinker who can join the dots between categories, retailers, and consumers to build a clear brand proposition and direction for development and growth.
  • A strong eye for detail as this role needs to have a comprehensive grasp of contracts and financial information.
  • A strong collaborator and team player.
  • Excellent presentation skills.
  • Calm under pressure and able to think on your feet when the situation demands.
  • Flexibility to attend relevant UK tradeshows or where required international shows to represent the Hardlines area of the business or Penguin Ventures more generally as a spokesperson.


Detailed Role Responsibilities 

  • To create and develop the ongoing strategic growth plan for the UK hardlines business both at category and licensee level.
  • To identify category gaps and drive the new business pipeline for category expansion.
  • To regularly present our properties and brand updates to new and existing licensing partners
  • Full new business pipeline responsibility for closing new deals as well and renewing existing licensees, contracting them and tracking the deal through its lifecycle including:
    – Working with Contracts to ensure all queries with the licensee are dealt with in a timely fashion through to signature of the agreement
    – Be across all product development alongside the Creative team and support in dealing with any pinch-points as regards to development
    – Track the licensees royalties quarterly reporting through Brand Comply and deal with any pinch-points as regards reporting and payments
    – Work with licensees to secure annual forecasting to aid in the Ventures overall budget and forecasting process
  • Work closely with the Head of International Licensing on multi-territory deals always with a view to executing to the highest standard in the UK and the amplification of these deals in other international markets to grow our business globally.
  • Be the main point of contact for all hardlines queries and enquiries within the business including the key conduit for all marketing, PR and social media conversations between your licensees and the Own Brand Team including licensee and retail marketing, press releases and PR as well as social media posts.


Financial Responsibility 

  • As part of the overall management of your category area you will be responsible for “owning” your numbers as well as a wider understanding of the team’s financial responsibilities in service to the budget including:
    – A detailed understanding of your licensees performance by SKU and retailer using data from Brand Comply
    – An understanding of the sales numbers across the team in service to the PRH P&L
    – A broader understanding of the Penguin Ventures number and how this impacts the PRH Children’s budget
  • A deep understanding of the sales figures for your area to help identify gaps and trends in service to building a robust strategic plan for the hardlines business
  • You will be responsible for presenting numbers for your area to the team and the wider business as well as providing data in support of senior leadership and operating board meetings as needed



  • Alongside the Head of Retail you should build, nurture and develop relationships with the key retail buyers in your category
  • To present quarterly or at least bi-annually to the relevant buyers at the key retailers for your area or where cross-category initiatives are in play to a wider buying group in collaboration with the Head of Retail and Senior Category Manager – Softlines
  • To work with the Owned Brand Team to support retailers particularly on cross-category opportunities and initiatives that amplify key brand and campaign messaging.



Deadline: midnight on Tuesday 25th July.


What you can expect from us 

Salary: up to £60,000 depending on how your skills and experience align with the role, plus bonus and benefits.


Our hybrid working approach 

While our offices are places to connect, collaborate and celebrate with colleagues, we recognise that flexibility about where you work is just as important for doing your best work and for your wellbeing. For this role, there are meetings and activities that you will need to attend in person at our offices in Embassy Gardens, roughly 2-3 times a week.

Our employees are the heart of our business. We have a range of benefits to reflect our commitment to our employees, some of which are:

  • 27 days paid holiday entitlement in year one (plus bank holidays), increasing a day each year up to 30 days
  • Medical cover
  • Life assurance
  • Cycle to Work scheme
  • Discounted gym membership
  • Generous pension scheme
  • Summer working hours (role dependent)
  • Volunteering policy and charity matching
  • Employee Assistance programme
  • Mentoring programme
  • Extended gender-neutral parental leave
  • Access to books and eBooks across Penguin Random House UK
  • Each site has trained mental health first aiders
  • We plant a tree for every new employee to our business


Our creativity is inspired by different perspectives, so we want our culture to be one of belonging, where everyone feels welcome and where differences are celebrated. 

As a Disability Confident Committed organisation, we’re part of the offer an interview scheme. This is where disabled applicants who meet the essential criteria for the role can opt in to get to the next recruitment stage. 

There may be some situations where volume of applicants means we can’t take all eligible candidates to interview. We want to make sure disabled applicants can be their best at each step of the recruitment journey. If you need adjustments during the application process, we encourage you to get in touch with us at Remember, you only need to share what you are comfortable to for us to support your adjustment request. Find out more about our approach here: 

We partner with The Book Trade Charity, who provide financial assistance for people looking to get into the publishing industry; you can find more information and talk directly here: 

Please note, we are not able to accept agency CVs for this role. Any CVs sent speculatively will not be eligible for a fee.