Inside Licensing News and Notes, Jan. 8, 2018

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Kohl’s and Five Below Post Strong Holiday Sales

Kohl’s same-store sales rose 6.9% during November and December, while Five Below posted a 6.7% gain in the same period.

As a result, Kohl’s raised its full-year earnings forecast to $4.10-$4.20 from $3.72-$3.92. Kohl’s online sales “accelerated significantly” during the holiday period and store sales were buoyed by “stronger customer traffic,” Kohl’s CEO Kevin Mansell said in a statement.

Five Below’s holiday sales jumped 26.7% to $442.6 million. Given the sales increase, Five Below expects to be at the “high end” of its prior Q4 revenue forecast of $491-$503 million on a 4%-6% same-store sales gain, the company said.

Meanwhile, Sears Holdings will close another 103 Sears (39) and Kmart (64) stores by early April as it continues to seek to match its stores and digital business “to the needs and preferences” of its customers, the company said. The stores will close across 38 states with the most being in California (six Sears locations) and Pennsylvania (10 Kmarts). Liquidation sales start Jan. 12, Sears said. Sears has been testing a smaller store format in many markets including the Danbury Fair Mall in Danbury, CT, where it shrank from two levels to a single basement location. Primark replaced Sears on the upper level.


Five Below, Kenneth Bull, Chief Financial Officer, 215-546-7909

Kohl’s, Bruce Besanko. Chief Financial Officer, 262-703-7000,

Sears, Rob Riecker, Chief Financial Officer, 214-743-7600,


Executive Moves: LIMA Adds Two

International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association (LIMA) adds two executives to help expand its global reach: Gisela Adams, ex-Sesame Workshop, joins as SVP of Global Partnerships, and Sharon Weisman, ex-UBM, is named Senior Director of Global Business Development… Tim Kilpin, President of Activision Blizzard Inc.’s Consumer Products Division, resigns from Build-A-Bear board… Neiman Marcus Group President and CEO Karen Katz to retire effective Feb. 12, replaced by Geoffrey von Raemdonck, ex-Ralph Lauren… Jeffrey Peters, Director of Global Licensing and Retail at HBO, promoted to VP, replacing Josh Goodstadt, who last year joined the National Basketball Players Inc. the licensing arm of the National Basketball Players Association… Kirsten Yitterbo, ex-Toys R Us Hong Kong, joins Hong Kong toymaker King Bee as SVP.


Activision Blizzard Inc., Tim Kilpin, Pres. of Consumer Products,,  310-255-2000

Neiman Marcus Group, Karen Katz, CEO, 214-743-7600

HBO, Jeffrey Peters, VP Licensing and Retail, 212-512-1000,

King Bee Toys, Kirsten Yitterbo, SVP, +852 3651 8200

LIMA, Gisela Adams, SVP of Global Partnerships, and Sharon Weisman, Senior Director of Global Business Development, (, 212-244-1944


Glu Mobile Sells Off Part of Celebrity-Licensed Business

Glu Mobile sold off one of its celebrity-licensed titles to developer MGL, which is creating the game with an unnamed male celebrity. Glu has been paring back its assortment of celebrity-licensed games, but is continuing to develop those tied to Kim Kardashian, Chef Gordon Ramsay and singer Taylor Swift, whose “The Swift Life” mobile title was released in December.

Separately, Glu Mobile sold its Moscow-based studio to Saber Interactive for $2.8 million. The games developed there will be transitioned to Glu’s Hyderabad, India office, the company said.


Glu Mobile, Nick Earl, CEO, 415-800-6100,

Lamb-Weston Adding Manufacturing Capacity for Licensed French Fries

Lamb-Weston, which sells French fries under a range of licensed brands, is expanding production at plants in Richland, WA and Hermiston, OR, after experiencing tight supply in fiscal Q2 ended Nov. 26, company executives told analysts. Lamb-Weston, which spun off from ConAgra in late 2016, manufactures and sells French fries under the Red Robin, Arby’s, Nathan’s Famous and Checker’s/Rally’s brands. It also has a perpetual license from ConAgra for fries sold under the Alexia brand, says a Lamb-Weston spokeswoman. Lamb-Weston’s retail sales, which include licensed brands, increased 6% to $102 million in Q2 ended Nov. 26. Overall, its Q2 profit declined 12.7% to $76.1 million as sales rose 4% to $824 million.


Lamb Weston, Robert McNutt, Chief Financial Officer, 208- 938-1047,



Brand Central Group is representing Sonic the fast-food drive-in restaurant chain enters licensing. The chain had 3,563 stores across 45 states as of late 2017… Licensing Link Europe is representing Spanish fashion brand Chic&Love in the UK as it seeks to expand into stationery, backpacks and accessory products… Brands United Limited is handling licensing for Endemol Shine Group’s MasterChef in Greater China, marking the first time the brand has had agency representation there.


Brand Central Group, Janna Markle, VP Licensing, 502-738-0855,

Brands United Group, Stanley Yeung, CEO, +852-2782 3183

Licensing Link Europe/Consumer Product Connection, Julian Barbier, Managing Dir.,


Royal Mail Launches Game of Thrones Stamps in UK

HBO’s “Game of Thrones” is getting a stamp of approval in the UK. Royal Mail will launch a licensed stamp collection in the UK on Jan. 23, marking the first time an HBO series has appeared on stamps. The stamp set features nine characters, including Daenerys Targaryen (actress Emilia Clarke) and Jon Snow ( actor Kit Harrington). The series is heading to its eighth and final season, which is expected in 2019. Royal Mail has a long history in licensing with BBC series “Danger Mouse”, musician David Bowie, author Agatha Christie and her books and Alice in Wonderland having been featured in previous collections.


HBO: Jeffrey Peters, VP Global Licensing and Retail, 212-512-1000,