National treasures: National Gallery Company’s Judith Mather on 2020

The Gallery’s buying and brand licensing director talks demand for key product categories and international growth.

The museum, heritage and institutions sector has endured its own challenges throughout this year’s lockdowns – including venue closures, key exhibitions put on hold and social distancing measures to incorporate.

All of this means the importance of licensed products is higher than ever. catches up with some key names in the sector to find out their views on the year to date.

Today: Judith Mather, buying and brand licensing director, National Gallery Company.

“Demand for our licensed jigsaws (from Ravensburger and Flame Tree) soared during lockdown, which in turn boosted our digital sales of this category. Crafting activities (from DMC) were also popular, seeing YOY sales up 125%.

New licensees Poetic Brands, Pure Jewels (fine jewellery), MLP (apparel) and Ecell (phone cases) have continued to develop product through the crisis. A DTR was secured with Pull & Bear, while the contract to supply our Delicious Art range to Boots and other retailers was extended for a further two years.

Our international agent, Pepperbrands in Brazil, secured a new deal for hats in Mexico, while Alfilo, our master licensee in China, has developed 101 new skus over multiple designs and products.

The National Gallery [adopted] an online booking system for free entry and paid for entry for the current Titian: Love, Desire, Death exhibition [before the current national lockdown]. This aided the social distancing in the Gallery. Capacity was greatly reduced and we could only trade on-site in one permanent store and the Titian exhibition shop.

As to our focus in the Far East and going forward into Q1 2021, we would like to secure more fashion collaborations.”

This feature originally appeared in the autumn 2020 edition of Licensing Source Book. To read the full publication, click on this link.

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