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Licensees hope NHL follows the NBA’s bounce-back model
Published January 28, 2013, Page 12
“We’ll chase whatever [regular-season] business remains and see how much more gets generated by the playoffs,” said John Killen, president and COO of hard goods licensee WinCraft. Killen said WinCraft was “approaching a half-million in sales” of NHL licensed product since the lockout ended. “We don’t know the overall impact yet, and because of the Olympics next year, we won’t have an All-Star Game two years in a row, but we all look at how strongly the NBA business came back [last season] and hope that happens again.”
> BIG BOUNCE BACK: The NBA gathered its licensees, 61 in total, in Las Vegas during the days before the show. Awards were presented, and in a magnanimous gesture that underscored the rapid retail recovery from last season’s lockout, all 30 clubs shared Team Retailer of the Year honors. Sal LaRocca, NBA executive vice president of global merchandising, noted that as a combined entity, NBA teams are the second-largest retailer of NBA licensed product, behind only Wal-Mart.
Through a vote of all 30 teams, retro apparel specialist ’47 Brand won Licensee of the Year, based on its product assortment, service and delivery capabilities. In a season bereft of fad items and fueled by the meteoric rise of a player like Jeremy Lin, LaRocca cited the strength of core licensees like Adidas, Panini, Spalding and Take-Two as the pillars supporting continued strong business.
Top league executives have been calling the 6,000-square-foot NBA Store at 590 Fifth Ave. in Manhattan “temporary” since it opened in October 2011. Now, with a lease that ends in August, LaRocca said the league is negotiating with landlords of two nearby locations with hopes of opening a 20,000-square-foot store in time for the 2013 holiday shopping rush, if not the 2013-14 NBA season.
|Women’s shoes for NBA fans were big at the show — really big.
The NBA has always been less enthusiastic about the women’s market than other big properties, which can get downright evangelical about their licensed offerings for women. However, one couldn’t help but notice three separate women’s shoes licensees at the NBA’s Team Retail Expo, upstairs from the Licensing Show. Most notable were the varied boot offerings from the Cuce’ Twins, who have created a lot of buzz in that market. We also were amused by Herstar’s $275 spiky six-inch crystal-adorned platform heels, even if we were unable to figure out how any woman could walk a step in them.
|Jeff (left) and David Strumeier have moved from licensed apparel to licensed tech.
While electronic accessories continue to be one of the most over-licensed categories, pitching the collection with a travel positioning seems smart enough to us, since it should ensure incremental distribution and guarantee survival when that category experiences the inevitable shakeout.
|Forever Collectibles showed off a selection of its Apples on Parade, based on statues tied to the All-Star Game.
> NEW COMPETITION?: Would you rather attend a licensed sports trade show or a licensed sports “gathering”? That was the question being asked by industry veteran Chris Leslie, who with gift show organizer Urban Expositions is organizing the Licensed Sports Gathering, a trade fair with a “smaller is beautiful” bent planned for Nov. 3-5 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando. Based on a similarly named show that serves national parks, amusement parks and aquariums, the concept is to invite the top 50 licensees and the top 100 to 125 retailers (who would attend gratis) to a self-contained three days of meetings, trade show, golf and meals in the same facility. Meetings with top retailers would then be all but assured, Leslie hopes. Licensees including The Memory Co., WinCraft, Tervis Tumbler and Baby Fanatic have signed on, in addition to retailers Fanatics.com and Bed, Bath & Beyond, Leslie said.
This year’s licensing show just completed its sixth year, and only in recent years did it receive requisite support and traffic. Since that show was just bought by Nielsen Expositions, and since every sizable sports property has its own annual licensee gathering, the need for yet another industry trade show was questioned by some, along with its November timing, a period in which most retail executives would ostensibly be preparing for the crucial holiday sales period. “There’s enough business to support it,” insisted Leslie, a former sales exec at SC Sports and The Memory Co. “We’re giving the industry an alternative as far as quality, intimacy, size and location, and the timing will allow buyers to get a jump on the coming year.”
Terry Lefton can be reached at email@example.com.