First Word--October 2004


Benchmarking can aid your company in making strategic decisions to license or not to license.

Retail never ceases to amaze me. I'm certain you have the same sentiments. When we began compiling information for this year's Industry Annual Report, I was awed by the list of the top 10 retailers: three discounters, two home improvement centers, four supermarkets, one department store. What's most astonishing is the retail sales dollar difference between the No. 1 retailer, Wal-Mart, and the No. 2 retailer, Home Depot, is hundreds of billions. Seriously now...

So, it came as no surprise when I crunched 2003 worldwide retail sales figures for the licensing industry that our business was off. Not by much (.5 percent), but enough in individual categories to take note. It's the old and now renowned push/pull at retail. Retailers don't have much choice, as Wall Street beckons and the performers stay, and the underperformers must be shifted on the retail floor (smaller space, less time given to perform, markdown). In our industry, the shift is apparent: With no blockbuster entertainment hit, brands and trademarks tend to uptrend; and vice versa. Such was the case for 2003. The winners can be found in the Art, Brands & Trademarks, and Sports categories. If not for those performances in 2003, the overall licensing business figure would have been severely down. Once again, the License! editorial team has compiled significant market happenings in 2003/2004, and provided forecasts for 2005 in each category License! covers monthly. In addition, we've provided a glimpse of some retail mergers, acquisitions, and, unfortunately, Chapter 11 filings in 2003/2004. The now-$172.7 billion licensing business is all wrapped up for you, beginning .

Benchmarking can aid your company in making strategic decisions to license or not to license. Overlicensing leads to oversaturation in the marketplace...that doesn't work for any company. When first approached by Woolrich, Inc., to write an exclusive around its 175th anniversary celebration, I recognized that this American mill success story remains a sleeping giant in the world of licensing. Rightfully so. As its executives explain, Woolrich aims first to build further brand recognition in markets in the U.S. and internationally with its core outerwear, and will only welcome new licensing opportunities that truly fit with its mantra, "The Original Outdoor Clothing Company." And, as the company continues to evolve, other licensing, co-branding, and promotional opportunities will abound. Of course, the right ones. For the full story, turn to.

While reading this month's First Word, we'll be only weeks away from License!'s LINK (Licensing International Networking Conference), being held November 2 to 4, in Miami, FL. All indications—from the lineup of speakers to registered attendees that include key retailers from a variety of industry sectors—point to a must-attend conference. If you haven't already, there's still time to register at . I hope to see you in Miami.

Fall Mass Market Toy Expo is proving to be a show of choice for toy manufacturers and retailers. I'll see you there first, October 19-21. Have a fantastic show!


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