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National treasures: The RHS’ Cathy Snow on 2020

RHS’ licensing manager on the impact of lockdown on the gardening product space, plus 2021 deals.

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: Cathy Snow, licensing manager, RHS.

“Retail business at our gardens, both in the gift shops and plant centres, has been brisk – especially for all things garden-related. We have seen real growth across the majority of our gardening product licensees, too. The only licensees that have not returned higher royalties are those that were unable to import product because of the closure of factories in the Far East.

However, luckily for the RHS licensing programme we have always worked with UK manufacturing licensees, as well as those who import products. Because of this the programme was well protected and the first two quarters’ revenue has barely been affected. However, things may change as we move through Q3 and Q4 when, traditionally for us, gardening product revenue drops away slightly and the gifting/seasonal product licensees would normally step up.

As for the new partners we were talking to before [the first] lockdown, some went on working and we were able to continue negotiations, so we will have plenty of new deals and new products launching next spring. A few other new deals were delayed, but are still going ahead.

We have even seen a number of new opportunities and approaches in the last few weeks where people have spent their time furloughed thinking about new creative partnerships to explore when they get back to work. Not just licensing, but gardening and growing have had a huge boost.

I can hint at a deal with a major grocer, which is hugely significant for the licensing programme. There is also one in the gardening product category, which again is huge – probably our biggest ever licensing deal financially for the RHS – and then several smaller ones that strengthen our gift and homeware licensed product categories. And there may be a really interesting deal for wine lovers, too.”

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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