Inside Licensing News and notes, September 22, 2017

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Vespa Steps into Footwear

Vespa is taking its first step into footwear. Licensee BrEx is opening pop-up shops in European department stores and applying the scooter brand to three main styles — Corsa running and Freccia standard shoes and Trevi chukka boot — and 13 color option under an agreement with Vespa owner Piaggio. The first of the pop-ups opened last week at the 11-store La Rinascente department store chain in Italy including its flagship location in Milan and will be added to other chains, including Galeries Lafayette (France), Manor (Switzerland), Selfridge’s (UK) and El Corte Ingles (Spain), says Global Icons’ Chiara Mastellone, whose agency represents Vespa. The footwear is being sold online through Amazon and Zalando. BrEx also sells licensed footwear under the Pantone brand.


Global Icons, Chiara Mastellone, Licensing Mgr., +44 207 730 9606,


Manchester United Moving to Localize E-Commerce Business

Manchester United will move to localize its e-commerce business after having posted “strong” sales growth in the U.S. in the first year of an agreement with Fanatics, Executive Chairman Edward Woodward told analysts. The soccer power didn’t reveal the size of its U.S. ecommerce increase, but its global e-commerce revenue rose 13% in the fiscal year ended June 30, Chief Financial Officer Cliff Baty said. The U.S. UnitedDirect site had previously been operated from the UK by Kitbag, which Fanatics acquired in 2016. Kitbag handles ecommerce in the other international markets. “We carved out the U.S. with Fanatics and there is a lesson here,” Woodward said. “It is something as simple as [whether] you call a shirt a ‘jersey’ or a ‘shirt.’ It also is how you communicate and are focused on the local market and able to tune it for that audience in a way that gives the best chance for sale. We are looking at how that can be replicated in other markets.”

Meanwhile, ManU’s retail, merchandising, apparel and product licensing revenue in Q4 ended June 30 rose 3.6% to £25.8 million. For the year, Manchester’s in-stadium merchandise revenue increased 33% on strong sales of licensed goods, boosting gross margins. Manchester’s retail, merchandising, apparel and product licensing revenue jumped 6.9% to £104 million in the fiscal year ended June 30 in the first full year of revenue from Adidas, which replaced Nike as primary licensee in 2015.


Manchester United, Cliff Baty, Chief Financial Officer, +44 1616 868 8000,


Just Play Launches JoJo Siwa Exclusive at Walmart

Just Play launches an exclusive at Walmart for toys licensed by  JoJo Siwa, the 14-year-old singer/actress/YouTube personality. The deal with Just Play was Siwa’s first for toys. In addition to the toys, Walmart carries more than 130 JoJo Siwa-related products ranging from 16-ounce plastic cups ($9.95) to a karaoke machine ($69). Siwa, who first starred on Dance Moms before launching a YouTube channel, signed a talent agreement with Nickelodeon earlier this year for a TV special that aired on Aug. 12. Nickelodeon handles licensing for JoJo Siwa.


Just Play, Jimmy Chang, Senior Marketing Dir., 267-989-3036,

Nickelodeon, Dan Frugtniet, VP Licensing and Business Development,,  212-258-6000


K’Nex Weighs Adding Hasbro IP to Tinker Toys

K’Nex is weighing combining Tinker Toy sets with other Hasbro IP, depending on how sales of the new TinkerToy/My Little Pony building sets fare this fall, says a company spokeswoman. K’Nex, which licenses both brands from Hasbro, has six SKUs ranging from a 12-piece Pony Pals Rarity carousel building set ($12.95) to the 98-piece Twilight Sparkle and Canterlot set ($49) that are being sold through mass retailers, says the spokeswoman. Meanwhile, a K’Nex spokeswoman tells us the company has shelved until 2018 plans for Nitro Circus-licensed playsets. The company had planned to have them available this fall.


K’Nex, Diane Adams, SVP Sales and Marketing, 215-997-7722,

Hasbro, Bryony Brouyer, SVP Global Category Management, Marketing and Creative, 401-431-8697,

LittleBits Launches Star Wars Droid Inventor Kit

Robotics kit supplier littleBits, having emerged from the Disney Accelerator program, has launched a Star Wars-themed Droid inventor kit through Walmart and Amazon. The company, which has raised about $60 million in investor funding since its founding in 2012, is shipping the Droid inventor kit ($99), the company’s first licensed product. The Droid is designed to allow users to build a Bluetooth-equipped clear plastic Droid that can be controlled via a free app. The kit includes stickers and 16 in-app missions with 20 R2D2 sounds from the Star Wars films. The clear plastic design was a departure in licensing for Disney. Disney typically requires products to closely resemble Star Wars IP, but littleBits, having been part of the accelerator program, was given some leeway, says a LittleBits spokeswoman.

Contact: LittlBits, William Robinson, VP Sales and Business Development, 917-464-4577,