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Preschool licensed apparel viewpoint: VMC Accessories

‘Preschool is the healthiest sector of licensing right now’ says Louise Hinds.

The licensed preschool apparel sector remains one of the healthiest, with plenty of choice for both retailers and consumers.

But it’s not without its challenges – the Brexit vote and the subsequent currency devaluation, retailers being ever more cautious on stocking decisions and lack of shelf space to trial new lines are all concerns.

This week, we ask some of the sector’s key players for their views.

Today: Louise Hinds, licensing and creative director, VMC Accessories

“2016 was a challenging year with Brexit and the US election causing issues with the value of the pound. However, we have worked hard to minimise the impact as much as possible and ended the year with positive, growing books from several customers.

“Preschool has been particularly strong within our licence portfolio, with PAW Patrol now expanding well into girls’ ranges in addition to boys’. Peppa Pig is still an evergreen, featuring in all retailers’ ranges, while Thomas and Mickey are continuing to be strong for boys.

“The challenges for 2017 are well known – the value of the pound is impacting on prices negatively and costs in general are rising. Retailers are demanding more for less; there has to be a reason for them to buy, so pressure is on price and design.

“Retailers are buying later and keen to shorten lead times. The end customer wants to buy at point of use – sunglasses in August, winter hats in January – the days of mums buying in advance are coming to an end. This is leading to a buying calendar with less prominent peaks and troughs and more buying phases.

“Preschool is the healthiest sector of licensing right now, with a wide selection of quality licences to choose from. However, we would like to see a larger presence of preschool dress-up at retail.”

This feature originally appeared in the March/April edition of Progressive Preschool. Click here to read the full publication.

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