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License to Groove

Bang on the Door founder Karen Duncan at the Hong Kong International Licensing Show in January, with  

Bang on the Door founder
Karen Duncan at the Hong Kong International Licensing Show in January, with Carol Tan (left)
and Betty Lei from Pacific Licensing, BotD’s licensing agency in
the region

 

Karen Duncan and Samantha Stringle started Bang on the Door (BotD) in 1986, in a flat above a butcher’s shop in North London. The two designers came up with colourful and bold animal prints on T-shirts, and sold them in Camden Market. From there, the company went on to create such popular characters as Groovy Chick and the FABric Animals collection. 

“About 2002 or 2003, Groovy Chick was extremely popular, especially in the UK and Europe; virtually every retail chain carried it,” said Andrew Levy, Managing Director of Licensingpages, which has been helping to develop BotD’s international business since 2010. “It was licensed in every single category you can think of: cosmetics, clothing, toys, giftware, stationery and fashion accessories, and it just went everywhere.” 

Returning as a third-time exhibitor at the January 2012 Hong Kong International Licensing Show, BotD found its first key licensee on the Chinese mainland.

Knocking on China’s Door

  Andrew Levy
 

Andrew Levy, Managing Director, Licensingpages, which has been helping
to develop BotD’s international business since 2010

Chinese company Transtek Automotive has been manufacturing car accessories for more than 13 years, exporting to global retailers, including WalMart. The company also specialises in automobile childcare products, which caught the attention of Mr Levy.

“We felt that one of the BotD brands, FABric Animals, needed to be positioned in a certain sector and a specific demographic, which we identified as the children’s accessories market,” he said.

“We refined this and discovered an untouched market, specifically children’s car seats and related accessories. There hadn't really been any licensing in that sector other than air fresheners and some sun shades. We felt that it was important to reflect the core equity of the brand in the products, but also work with a company whose ethos lay in the importance of producing high-quality products and protecting children,” Mr Levy said.

Transtek had long been searching for a design company to add value to its product line. Company Vice President Summer Xia said she came to Hong Kong last year, hoping to obtain a license for an international cartoon character that could complement the company’s baby products. “It is colourful and bright and the children’s elements of BotD characters were very compatible with our baby products. It’s essentially a UK brand with a long history. The design is innovative and they understand what’s popular internationally,” Ms Xia said.

The BotD baby car seat received positive feedback at the October Canton Fair, receiving orders and enquiries from around the world. Transtek also plans to expand into the United States and Australian markets.

Licensing Boom                                              

BOtD’s FABric Animals collection was licensed to China’s Transtek to produce a line of baby car seat  

BotD’s FABric Animals collection was licensed to China’s Transtek to produce a line of baby car seats for the international market

 
Asia Pacific is on BotD’s radar thanks to robust growth of the region’s middle class amid continuing weak demand in the West. According to the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association, about one-third of the total revenue of globally licensed products is now generated outside the United States, compared with only 10 per cent a decade ago. China and Southeast Asia are particular bright spots for licensing companies looking for new business.

“Getting something into retail in significant volume in Europe is very hard work right now unless your brand is really strong and is supported by tens of millions of people, and promoted via TV, films and online gaming,” Mr Levy said. “So the whole Asia-Pacific region, including Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines, obviously including China and Hong Kong, is very important to Bang on the Door. The same is true for certain territories in Latin America, because the economies in both regions are booming. The growth of the middle class is what is fueling the licensing market in China.”

According to a recent HKTDC study, the Chinese mainland is now the world’s fastest-growing market for licensed goods, which jumped more than 250 per cent, from US$1.1 billion in 2005 to US$3.9 billion in 2010. The per-capita retail sales of licensed products on the mainland rose more than seven-fold, from US$0.4 in 2001 to more than US$2.8 in 2010. In comparison, the US and Canada saw a four per cent decline in retail sales of licensed goods in 2010. Thailand and Malaysia are considered high-potential markets, especially in the toy and apparel sectors.

Groovy Chick in Asia

  Groovy Chick was named among the top 10 licensing characters by License! Magazine in 2001, and nomin
 

Groovy Chick was
named among the top
10 licensing characters by License! Magazine in 2001, and nominated for Brand of the Year and Character of the Year in 2000 by LIMA UK

BotD has successfully licensed stationery in the Philippines, bedding, home furnishings and apparel in Thailand, and homeware and gifts in Indonesia, and has an extensive publishing programme in Australia.  At the 2010 Hong Kong show, it also sold a license to Hong Kong’s Fung Lin Wah, a ceramic and tableware producer, to sell a collection of Groovy Chick products.

BotD’s licensing agency for the Asia-Pacific region, Pacific Licensing, has also been approached by companies from such new sectors as personal care and toiletries, as well as for a potential retail presence.  “We are working closely with Pacific Licensing, which is doing a great job,” Mr Levy said. “We are looking for some good apparel and toy licensees that can develop long-term, added-value ranges.”

Adding Value

Having the HKTDC Baby Fair, Toy Fair and Stationery Fair run concurrently with the Licensing Show offer added value to the show, according to Mr Levy. He met a Transtek representative, who had popped in from the Baby Fair, which was “literally next door.”

“If it was just a stand-alone licensing show, we probably wouldn’t exhibit, as we would not anticipate the traffic of attendees to be significant,” Mr Levy said. “Because there are other shows running concurrently, such as the toy show, it provides a convenient platform to fulfill another of our objectives in the toy sector, and increases the potential of new collaborations.”  

Bang on the Door will exhibit at next month’s HKTDC Hong Kong International Licensing Show, 7-9 January 2013, at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Related Links
BotD 
Licensingpages 
Transtek

  

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