UK retailer Mamas & Papas eyes licensing and franchising among global growth plans

The British nursery and children’s wear retailer, Mamas & Papas is eyeing international growth, having signed a slate of new overseas partnerships across central and eastern Europe.

The move, according to the firm, arrives amid a surge in international demand for British heritage brands like the Yorkshire-based Mamas & Papas, who has now counted the exploration of licensing partners among its wider global ambitions.

The company, who has headquarters in Huddersfield, and designs and manufactures travel systems, nursery furniture, and children’s clothing, said the new agreements were part of the retailer’s long term goal to be the ‘global nursery brand of choice.’ It added that it was exploring multiple routes to market, from “distributors and agents, to franchisees and licensing partners.”

Mamas & Papas has now signed distribution partners in ten countries, including the likes of Russia, Poland, and the Czech Republic, which have been pinpointed as key markets for the brand. It is also close to signing agreements covering five further countries.

With similar partnerships in the Far East and the Middle East now also on the radar, Mamas & Papas expects to double its overseas sales to the region next year.

Johan Meyfroidt, international general manager at Mamas & Papas, said: “There has always been strong overseas demand for British heritage brands like Mamas & Papas and our products have sold successfully in a number of markets for decades. As we step up our global ambitions, we’re exploring multiple routes to market, from distributors and agents to franchisees and licensing partners.

“What works in Poland may not work in Malaysia, so it’s important we have the agility to tailor our approach to suit local market dynamics.”

Mark Saunders, chief executive officer at Mamas & Papas, added: “Our international strategy is about scaling our presence in new and existing overseas markets at pace but also at low cost, helping us meet increasing global appetite for our design-led products, especially in those territories with increasingly affluent populations.

“Post-Brexit, it’s important that UK firms think globally about their growth and take full advantage of the enduring appeal of British brands.”

“We’re also continuing to expand our presence in our core UK market, both through our online business and our standalone stores and Next concessions.”

The company recently reported strong trading across its store portfolio and online business following the re-opening of non-essential retail in April.

Bulldog Licensing signs up with Marcus & Marcus as baby brand makes European licensing push

The mother and baby brand, Marcus & Marcus has shifted its licensing focus on to the European market, with the appointment of Bulldog Licensing to head up its plans across the children’s space and into toys, gifts, nursery products and more.

Initially created as a range of infant feeding products, Marcus & Marcus recently revealed its plans to expand the brand name into the wider consumer products arena, taking on categories such as apparel and publishing by utilising its character IP that includes Marcus the lion cub, Lola the giraffe, Ollie the elephant, and Lucas the hippo.

Under its remit as European licensing agency for the multi award winning brand, Bulldog Licensing will be looking to partner with a raft of licensees across toys and gifts, nursery products, homewares, and more.

‘The founders of Marcus & Marcus are parents themselves with a love of unique, modern designs. Marcus & Marcus’ delivers simple, effective designs with quality, safe and sustainable products to keep children entertained and engaged,’ read a statement from the firm.

Rob Corney, MD, Bulldog Licensing, added: “We’re really excited to be working with Marcus & Marcus. Their fun, bold designs offer a great opportunity for licensees to develop quality, smart and functional products in a wide range of categories to build on the existing, award-winning range using the instantly recognizable artwork.”

Etta Loves partners with Keith Haring Foundation on new baby collection

The baby and mother specialist, Etta Loves has teamed with the Keith Haring Foundation to create a new range of sensory baby products that makes use of the artist’s much-loved designs and embodying Haring’s own sentiments that ‘art is for everyone.’

The new range brings the art of Haring to a new generation, combining the iconic prints with the science that is at the heart of the Etta Loves product range. A popular artists and activist, Haring was part of the New York art scene during the 1980s. Since then, his classic colourful figures have become an iconic symbol in popular culture.

The new Etta Loves x Keith Haring collection of baby essentials combines his art with the expertise that Etta Loves’ resident NHS orthoptist – an expert in children’s vision who consults with the design team – to bring a range that supports babies’ visual and cognitive development.

The science of Etta Loves aims to ensure that babies are stimulated and mesmerised, giving parents moments of calm throughout the day.

The collection comprises two designs: Baby and Brazil. Baby features Haring’s iconic crawling babies in high contrast black and white. Etta Loves has scaled the design to support babies’ visual and cognitive developments from birth to around four months. Meanwhile, Brazil is a brightly coloured version of Haring’s 1989 artwork of the same name, recoloured and scaled to support babies from five months to around one year old.

The collection includes Etta Loves favourites including its reversible playmat, the best-selling sensory strip, extra large muslins, comforters, a teether, and two new products.

The Haring Foundation, said: “The Haring Studio is excited to partner with innovative brand Etta Loves, bringing Haring’s core message of Art is for everybody to a new generation. Haring’s Iconic and bold artwork, with minimal use of lines make the perfect patterns for these sensory designs.” 

Jen Fuller, founder of Etta Loves, added: “Keith Haring famously said that “Art is for everyone” so to be able to introduce the radiant joy of his work to a new generation is an honour.

“This unique range truly does collide art with science in the most magical of ways, to support babies with their development whilst giving parents some well needed and very stylish calm in the everyday.”

Early Learning Centre partners with Poetic Brands for baby, children’s wear and accessories

The Early Learning Centre brand is expanding into baby, children’s wear and accessories, thanks to a new licensing partnership with the clothing specialist, Poetic Brands. The partnership has been brokered by the Early Learning Centre’s licensing agency, Riverside Brands.

The new ELC collection will incorporate baby and children’s wear products, including baby layette fashion, as well as accessories such as baby changing bags and slings in the baby collection. In the children’s category, Poetic Brands will launch children’s daywear, as well as accessories including luggage, beach towels and bags, and flip flops.

Having traded in a number of guises since 1974, the Early Learning Centre has become a destination retailer for expectant mothers, new parents and beyond. Currently owned by The Entertainer, ELC operates both online and within The Entertainer stores with a vision to support parents with their child’s early years learning and development through play.

Anne Bradford, director, Poetic Brands, said: “When we heard about the opportunity of establishing ELC as an apparel collection, we jumped at the chance to come on board and work with Ash [founder of Riverside Brands] and The Entertainer on this project.

“In the initial year of setting up the business it has been so important to us to look for new opportunities to the market and the ELC brand absolutely ticks this box. Our team has a huge amount of experience across both baby and toddler and they are looking forward to creating a unique apparel collection at retail.”

Ashley Holman, MD, Riverside Brands, added: “We have had a fantastic initial response to the Early Learning Centre licensing opportunity since announcing it a few months ago and it is really exciting to be partnering with Poetic Brands, as they really understood the vision we have for the brand from the outset. We are confident this will be the start of a very successful partnership for all involved.”

Poetic Brands launches baby apparel and accessories division with Tiny Tatty Teddy partnership

The apparel specialist, Poetic Brands, has signed a new deal with Carte Blanche Greetings to create a babywear collection based on the classic Tiny Tatty Teddy property. The deal arrives as Poetic Brands expands its successful business with the establishment of a baby apparel and accessories division.

The Tiny Tatty Teddy range will include a wide range of baby products. Poetic Brands will also be creating a range of girls and adults daywear based on Tatty Teddy, the grey bear with the blue nose and patches. 

Tiny Tatty Teddy is the nursery proposition within the now iconic Me to You brand with the signature character Tatty Teddy. Launched in 1995 with a handful of greeting card designs, the brand has successfully grown to witness a licensing portfolio covering 12 categories, with representation in 110 countries around the world.

Shortlisted for the Best Classic Licensed Property Award in this year’s Licensing Awards and currently celebrating 25 years of Sharing the Moments that Matter, Me to You is recognised as an evergreen brand.

“Me to You is a classic and much-loved character with fans all over the world. Our team at Poetic Brands have worked with the Me to You brand over the years and have identified some key areas for further growth and development,” said Anne Bradford, director, Poetic Brands.

“We’re super excited to be working with Talia and the team and are already creating innovative new ranges and collections offering full category activation opportunities.”

Talia Tester, licensing manager, Carte Blanche, added: “I am very pleased to be collaborating with Poetic Brands in such a core category for us. They truly understand the values, positioning and vision for our brands and am confident that this is the beginning of a fantastic partnership. 

“We already have very strong business within apparel thanks to our existing long-term partners, and working with Poetic will allow us to move into additional areas that grow this even further. The concepts shared so far are very exciting and I can’t wait to see where they take it, they have already hit the ground running.”