Inside Licensing News and Notes, Dec. 29, 2017

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Live Ventures Planning New Videogames Stores in 2018

Live Ventures, a holding company which acquired Vintage Stock and its 57 videogame and collectibles stores in November, plans to add another 2-4 stores to its roster in 2018, company executives told analysts.

Vintage stock operates stores under the Movie Trading Co. and EntertainMart names; eight are in former Hastings Entertainment stores that Vintage acquired in September in Arkansas and Texas.  The 123-store Hastings filed for bankruptcy and liquidated earlier this year.

Live Ventures, which also owns carpet manufacturer Marquis, posted $152 million in revenue in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, up 92% from a year earlier and including $72 million generated by Vintage Stock. Sales at the Vintage stores between Dec. 1 and Dec. 24 increased 6% from a year ago, including a 60% gain at the former Hastings locations, Vintage Division Pres. Rodney Spriggs said. The chain posted “double-digit” percent increases in sales of videogames software and hardware and collectibles. Spriggs said.

Vintage, which also sells toys, comics, DVD and Blu-ray movies, is expecting sales to continue to improve in 2018 driven by the release of Black Panther, Jurassic World 2 and other movies, Spriggs said. Vintage also is revamping its website, where 80% of its sales come from mobile devices, but which accounts for about one percent of annual revenue, Spriggs said.


Live Ventures, Virland Johnson, Chief Financial Officer, 702-939-0231,

Fandandgo Tests Pop-Up Shops

Movie ticketing service Fandango is testing pop-up in-theater licensed merchandise pop-up shops. It operated a pair of FanShops Dec. 16-24 in Decurion Corp.’s Pacific Theatres at the Grove in Los Angeles, CA, stocked with third-party licensed products for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Wonder Woman, Despicable Me 3 and other films. The top-seller was a Porg galactic plush figure with many fans buying it after viewing the Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which opened Dec. 15, says a Fandango spokeswoman. Fandango earlier launched its FanShop e-commerce service in April with a broad selection of third party licensed products (Inside Licensing March 16). FanShop’s popup stores come as AMC Entertainment prepares to test product sales in 35 theaters in 2018 (Inside Licensing, Nov. 13). Build-A-Bear also has tested merchandise sales in AMC theaters (Inside Licensing Aug. 1)


Fandango, Adam Rockmore, Chief Marketing Officer, 310-351-7690


Lifetime Brands Buys Starbucks Supplier Filament Brands

Lifetime Brands’ $313 million acquisition of Filament Brands will bring the kitchenware supplier into coffee shops. Filament, which changed its name from Taylor Precision Products earlier this year, purchased Chef’n in 2013, bringing with it a design/development agreement with Starbucks for travel mugs and other containers. Filament posted $178 million in revenue in the fiscal year ended in September and adds new distribution for Lifetime at food distributor US Foods and retailer Total Wine & More in addition to Starbucks. Filament CEO Robert Kay will become CEO of the combined company, while Life CEO Jeffrey Siegel shifts to chairman. Filament brings 11 brands to Lifetime’s portfolio.


Lifetime Brands, Jeffrey Siegel, Pres., 516-683-6000.

Nike NBA ‘Connected’ Jerseys Generate ‘Strong Demand’

Nike’s new “connected” National Basketball Association (NBA) jerseys have “generated strong demand” through Nike Direct and Dick’s Sporting Goods since launch in September, Nike CEO Mark Parker told analysts.  The “swingman” replica ($110) and authentic connected jerseys ($200) were among the first consumer products to emerge since Nike replaced Adidas as the NBA’s official uniform supplier earlier this year. The connected jerseys feature an embedded near field communication (NFC) chip that when tapped by a smartphone containing a NikeConnect app deliver player statistics, in-game scores and post-game interviews. Nike’s NBA agreement is “energizing” Nike’s apparel business and “feeding innovation and growth,” Parker said. Nike’s Q2 profit declined to $767 million from $842 million a year earlier as revenue rose 5% to $8.5 billion despite a 4% decline in North American sales to $3.4 billion.


Nike, Trevor Edwards, Pres. Nike Brands, 503-671-6453


Twin-Star Brands Strikes Licensing Deal

Home goods supplier Twin-Star International is renaming itself Twin-Star Home as it readies new licensed furniture collections with home furnishing designer Jena Hall, the first of which will be shown at the winter Las Vegas Market in late January. Hall has a long history in licensed furniture, having left Aspenhome in 2010 to form Jena Hall Associates and re-launch her Jena Hall Licensed Collections home furnishings label. The brand has been licensed to 22 home furnishings companies during its 31-year history.


Twin-Star Home, Marc Sculler, Pres., 561-330-3201


Universal Studios Readies Final Fantasy Ride

Universal Studios Japan is re-branding an existing ride as a virtual reality (VR) version of Square Enix’s “Final Fantasy” as part of a promotion that runs Jan. 19-June 24. The Final Fantasy XR ride will use the existing “Space Fantasy The Ride” roller coaster and VR headsets to view game content. Riders will “board” airships and navigate through Final Fantasy worlds in meeting up the games heroes, including Final Fantasy VII’s Sephiroth. The VR content is being produced by Square Enix’s special effects arm, Visual Works. Visual Works created scenes cut from several of the 15 Final Fantasy titles that have been published since the series was launched for the original Nintendo Entertainment System in 1987. Universal struck an agreement with Nintendo in 2016 to open Nintendo-themed areas at parks in Orlando, FL; Hollywood, CA; and Osaka, Japan.


Square Enix, Jon Brooke, VP Brand Marketing, 310-846-0400

Universal Studios Parks and Resorts, John Sprouls, Chief Administrative Officer, 818-777-1000,


Executive Moves:

Jakks Pacific Chief Financial Officer Joel Bennett, a 22-year veteran of the company, resigns, but will remain until successor is hired or until the fiscal year 2017 annual report is complete.