Inside Licensing News and Notes, July 30, 2018

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Hasbro Readying Plans for Power Rangers

Hasbro’s licensing plans for Power Rangers will resemble the playbook used for Transformers and My Little Pony, featuring a “very robust” line of products “coming from a number of different partners,” CEO Brian Goldner told analysts.

Hasbro acquired Power Rangers and other brands from Saban Brands for $522 million earlier this year. Goldner termed 2019 a “transition year” for Power Rangers as Hasbro introduces new products in March and April. The existing inventory of Power Rangers products is expected to be sold through retail by mid-2019 and new entertainment content and licensed products will arrive the following year, he said.

Many of Saban’s licensees also have developed My Little Pony and Transformers products, so Power Rangers’ shift to new ownership will be “relatively seamless,” Goldner said. Hasbro also has hired “key personnel” from Saban responsible for the Power Rangers brand, with Saban CEO Haim Saban serving as a creative consultant, he said.

Power Rangers’ will generate an operating profit similar to Hasbro’s other franchise brands and has a “significant opportunity for growth given where the brand had been most recently,” Goldner said. Hasbro will work with a film studio to develop a new Power Rangers movie as a follow-up to the 2017 release. In addition to Power Rangers, Hasbro also acquired Saban properties including My Pet Monster, Luna Petunia, Popples and Julius Jr.

Meanwhile Paramount and Hasbro’s All Spark Pictures have postponed release of a new Transformers 6 film until after 2019, due largely to the release of the Bumblebee film late this year, which pushed out plans for home entertainment. Transformers 6 had been scheduled for release on June 21, 2019.

Contact:

Hasbro, Deborah Thomas, CFO, 401-431-8697, deborah.thomas@hasbro.com.

 

Iconix Reaches Agreement with Sports Direct

Iconix reached a cooperation agreement with shareholder Sports Direct, giving the UK retailer the right to appoint two board members to help with a review of the company, Iconix said in an SEC filing. The standstill pact puts on hold Sports Direct’s plans for a rival slate of directors. Two Sports Direct nominees will now be part of a committee conducting an internal review of Iconix. Separately, Iconix will conduct an operational review of the company. Iconix postponed an annual meeting originally set for Thursday, and a new one is required, under the agreement, to occur before Oct. 1. The standstill agreement remains in place as long as Sports owns at least 4% of Iconix; it currently owns about 9% (5.6 million shares), down from 13% (7.6 million shares) a year ago.

Contact:

Iconix, David Jones, CFO, 212-730-0030, djones@iconixbrands.com

 

Gordon Brothers Readies Licensing Expansion for Bench

Gordon Brothers acquired UK retailer/lifestyle brand Bench and is closing most of its stores while launching a new licensing program, says Gordon Brothers Brands Pres. Ramez Toubassy. Bench, which had 80 stores with operations in the UK, Canada and Germany, filed for administration (bankruptcy in the U.S.) in the UK in April; Gordon Brothers acquired the IP assets in June. Five Bench stores in Winnipeg (3), Regina (1) and Saskatoon (1) will remain in Canada where licensee Freemark Apparel Brands Group has a program across bags, fashion accessories, headwear and other products. Intercity (fragrance and beauty) and Otto Group (apparel) also are being retained as licensees, says Toubassey. Bench was founded in 1989, and at its peak had about £150 Million in revenue. Meanwhile, Gordon also is building a licensing program for Wet Seal, having purchased the IP assets of the bankrupt U.S. retailer last year. Licensee VenturaD relaunched the Wet Seal web site in late 2017. A new program for sunglasses debuted earlier this month, while beauty products are due in the fall, says Toubassey.

Contact:

Gordon Brothers Brands, Ramez Toubassy, Pres. 310-243-6766, rtoubassy@gordonbrothers.com

Kathy Ireland’s Level Brands Forecasts $3-$3.2 Million in Q3 Revenue

Level Brands expects a $500,000-$600,000 operating profit in Q3 ended June 30, reversing a year-earlier $178,000 loss as revenue rises 68-79% to $3-$3.2 million amid a growing licensing business, the company said. The company, for which Kathy Ireland is Chief Strategy Officer, earlier this month licensed Gravocore to apply the Ireland One Men label (I’M1) to a fitness training system under a deal that carries a royalty of 8% of net sales. It also signed an agreement with Boston Therapeutics to use the Kathy Ireland Health and Wellness brand on its SugarDown diabetes supplement. In addition to an $850,000 marketing fee, Boston Therapeutics pays a 5% royalty on the first $10 million in sales; 7.5% on $10-$50 million in sales and 10% on more than $50 million.

Contact:

Level Brands, Stephen Roseberry, Pres. I’M1 Brand, 704-807-4032

Bluestar Alliance forms Joint Venture with Fashion Designer Elie Tahari

Brand management firm Bluestar Alliance licensed The Levy Group for Tahari swimwear, its first since forming a joint venture with fashion designer Elie Tahari in January. In the venture with Tahari, Bluestar is handling licensing for the Tahari and T Tahari brands with plans to expand it into perfume, watches and menswear. The Tahari, T Tahari and Tahari ASL brands generated about $500 million in retail sales prior to the joint venture largely through Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale’s. The higher priced Tahari ASL brand, which Tahari used for women’s dresses and suits, was spun off into a separate company headed by designer Arthur Levine, who helped launch the line in 2001. The Levy Group also produces outerwear under the Tahari, Vera Wang, Nautica and Betsy Johnson labels

Contacts:

Bluestar Alliance, Ralph Gindi, Pres.-Chief Operating Officer, 212-290-1370

The Levy Group, Louis Levy, VP, 212-398-0707

 

Inter Parfums Forecasts Q2 Sales Increase Led by Guess Brand

Inter Parfums’ sales increased 15.7% to $149 million in Q2 ended June 30, led in the U.S. by the newly licensed Guess brand fragrances. The Guess fragrances were launched near the end of Q2, but contributed to the increase in net sales, CEO Jean Madar said. Inter Parfums didn’t release sales totals for Guess, but the company’s U.S. sales grew 50.8% in Q2 to $33.8 million. Inter Parfums licensed the Guess brand in February, replacing Coty. In international markets, Inter Parfums’ revenue rose 8.3% to $115.6 million as sales of Coach fragrances, introduced last year, nearly doubled.to $45.3 million Licensed Jimmy Choo and Lanvin brands posted 8.2% and 7.1% sales gains in international market, while those of Montblanc declined 9.8%. Meanwhile, Inter Parfum extended its license for the Van Cleef & Arpels brand through Dec. 31, 2024. The agreement, first signed in 2007, had been set to expire on Dec. 31, Chief Financial Officer Russell Greenberg tells us.

Contact:

Inter Parfums, Russell Greenberg, Chief Financial Officer, 212-983-2640, rgreenberg@interparfumsinc.com

 

True Family Buys Chef’d Assets

True Family Enterprises acquired Chef’d assets and will keep the brand, but won’t renew its more than a dozen licensing agreements, company executives said. Terms of the acquisition weren’t disclosed. True Family’s True Food Innovations subsidiary, headed by former Chef’d SVP Robert Jones, will absorb the assets in its existing business.  True Food, which markets True Chef retail meal kits, will shut Chef’d’s e-commerce subscription service business and focus the brand on retail. Chef’d, which launched in 2015, closed operations and laid off staff earlier this month after failing to gain needed funding. Chef’d licensing deals included, among others, those with Chef Maeva, Gordon Ramsay, Wolfgang Puck, Coca Cola, Campbell’s Co., Smithfield and others.  The latter two also were among the investors in a $35 million funding round in April 2017. Using Smithfield’s distribution, Chef’d had launched sales of its meal kits earlier this year through Costco, Harris Teeter, Gelson’s and other grocery chains.

Contact:

True Family Enterprises, Robert Jones, True Food Innovations Pres., 888-665-8638

 

Sony Closes on Acquisition of Peanuts Stake

Sony closed on its acquisition of a 41% stake in Peanuts Worldwide for $178 million, down slightly from the $185 million first proposed in May, according to a DHX Media SEC filing. DHX Media, which paid Iconix $345 million in May 2017 for the Strawberry Shortcake brand and an 80% stake in Peanuts, will continue to own 39% of Peanuts. The estate of Peanuts creator Charles Schulz owns the remainder. The change in purchase price was made following “certain adjustments” that were made to the agreement, details of which weren’t disclosed, says a DHX spokesman.

Contact:

DHX Media, Douglas Lamb, Chief Financial Officer, 416-363-8034, douglas.lamb@dhxmedia.com

 

Electronic Arts’ FIFA Titles Surpass 100 Million Players

Electronic Arts’ FIFA soccer title, having launched on mobile devices for the first time China earlier this year, now has more than 100 million players across various generations of the game online and videogames consoles, PCs and mobile devices, CEO Andrew Wilson told analysts. FIFA Mobile was introduced via Tencent in China in a “Chinese-centric” version, Wilson said. During the recent World Cup, more than 15 million players across all formats accessed a special mode of the tournament. EA is releasing FIFA 19 in September. Meanwhile, EA developer Respawn will release a new Star Wars title, “Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order,” in 2019.

Contact:

Electronic Arts, Blake Jorgenson, CFO and Chief Operating Officer, 650-628-1500

 

Sesame Workshop Readies Licensing for New ‘Esme & Roy’ Animated Series

Sesame Workshop is readying a licensing program for “Esme & Roy,” its first animated series in more than a decade that debuts on HBO on Aug. 18. Sesame has begun discussions with potential licensees, but the timing for launching merchandise hasn’t been set, a Sesame spokeswoman said. The series, co-produced with DHX Media’s Nelvana, expands a partnership with HBO that has been in place since it agreed in 2015 to run Sesame Workshop’s flagship “Sesame Street.” The content also represents a renewed effort by Sesame Workshop to extend its portfolio. It has launched other series in the past, including “The Electric Company” and “3-2-1 Contact” in the 1970s.

Contact:

Sesame Workshop, Steve Youngwood, Chief Operating Officer, 212- 595-3456, steve.youngwood@sesame.org