ABG acquires lifestyle brand; Walmart extends partnership with Drew Barrymore; Home Depot merchandises home décor; adidas and Beyoncé have big brand plans; plus, other top brand licensing and retail news.

Licensing, marketing and retail expert/opinion leader Tony Lisanti provides insight and perspective for the top headlines of the week. “Licensing and Merchandising Report” is a must read for top execs who want objective, straightforward and authoritative analysis for the retailers, licensors and brands.

Authentic Brands Expands Portfolio

Authentic Brands Group has acquired Volcom and formed a new operating company in partnership with the lifestyle brand’s management team.

ABG has further diversified its portfolio with this popular brand in the skate, surf and snow segments and now boasts a portfolio generating $9.3 billion in retail sales making it one of the largest licensors in the world. Like with many of its previous brand acquisitions, ABG clearly sees a strong upside with the Volcom brand.

“We are thrilled to have completed the purchase of Volcom,” said Jamie Salter, chairman and CEO of ABG. “For nearly three decades the Volcom family has created one of the most iconic brands in the skate, surf and snow markets. During the last few years, the brand has been consistently gaining traction with broader audiences around the world while staying true to its core. We could not be happier to finally get to work with this team.”

According to ABG, Volcom has nearly 100 retail stores globally and distribution in 60 countries with 45% of its revenue being driven by its loyal customers internationally.

Similar to the operating structure created when it acquired Aéropostale, ABG has taken a minority stake in Liberated Brands, the newly formed operating company for Volcom.

According to ABG, Liberated Brands will maintain the Volcom operations based in the U.S., France, Australia and Japan “with continued oversight of the brand’s product development, athlete marketing and its retail and wholesale businesses worldwide. ABG will focus on amplifying brand awareness and business development for Volcom while leveraging Liberated Brands’ specialized retail and wholesale operations as a platform for international expansion of complementary ABG-owned brands.”

“Volcom is one of the world’s most sought-after lifestyle brands by board sports enthusiasts,” said Nick Woodhouse, president and CMO of ABG. “Liberated Brands’ operational expertise combined with ABG’s brand building know-how and a global network of best-in-class partners, make an unstoppable combination. We look forward to joining forces to take this brand to new heights.”

Walmart Adds New Home Line

Walmart has expanded its partnership with celebrity Drew Barrymore adding a new home products collection. The actress established Barrymore Brands in 2013 with the launch of Flower Beauty exclusively at Walmart and in conjunction with agency CAA-GBG. Walmart and Barrymore now have a significant partnership in several product categories that also includes Flower Eyewear.

Walmart’s latest merchandising move is consistent with the retailer’s overall strategy to differentiate its assortments, offer consumers on-trend and affordable products, as well as better control sourcing and manage inventory. It’s obvious that Walmart consumers resonate well with Barrymore and the Flower brand has become a strong offering.

The new collection of furniture and décor, called Drew Barrymore Flower Home, is inspired by the actress’ personal travels and familiar places she holds dear. The line includes furniture, curtains, textiles, wall art, ceramics, and pet beds.

“I have always had a love for creating joyful spaces—places where unexpected prints and patterns, shapes and styles, and colors and textures come together in the most delightful way,” said Drew Barrymore, who worked closely with the Walmart.com design team. “My new collection of furniture and home décor is inspired by this passion and I hope it inspires everyone to make themselves at home.”

Flower Home features more than 200 items ranging in price from $18 for ceramic decorative vases to $899 for a mid-century sofa.

“Our vision and purpose are for Walmart to be the most inspiring and accessible place online to design and decorate your living space while saving you time, effort and money. Drew Barrymore Flower Home is the latest addition to our high-quality, on-trend home assortment and another example of how we’re making a beautiful home possible for our customers,” said Anthony Soohoo, SVP and group general manager for home at Walmart U.S. eCommerce.

Home Depot Springs into Décor

With its strategic commitment to expand the home and décor categories, Home Depot released its spring catalog this week featuring hundreds of products all cleverly merchandised and organized.

Home Depot makes a major competitive statement with this home catalog that tells both consumers and competitors that is serious about all the key categories in the home and decor business. The selection is strong, the prices are aggressive, and the overall designs are contemporary and on-trend.

The 96-page color catalog featured prevalent themes such as: From French Doors to Faux Mohair; From Garden to Table; From Windows to Work Space; From Flooring to Floral; From Botanicals to Bar Carts; and From Planters to Patio Sets.

The catalog also debuts the Nautica brand to HD shoppers with several pages of products.

Adidas and Beyoncé Join Forces

adidas and Beyoncé announced a multi-faceted partnership that will include inspiring and empowering the next generation of creators, driving positive change in the world through sport, and identifying new business opportunities.

“This is the partnership of a lifetime for me,” said Beyoncé, who founded her management company Parkwood Entertainment in 2010. “adidas has had tremendous success in pushing creative boundaries. We share a philosophy that puts creativity, growth and social responsibility at the forefront of business. I look forward to re-launching and expanding Ivy Park on a truly global scale with a proven, dynamic leader.”

According to adidas, the key components of the partnership include:

  • “Beyoncé and adidas come together with a shared respect for and commitment to creativity, and the belief that through sport, we have the power to change lives.”
  • “This unique relationship aligns both parties around a set of core principles including the importance of women in leadership, shared ownership, empowerment and collaboration.”
  • “Beyoncé will be a creative partner for the brand, develop new signature footwear and apparel, as well as re-launch Ivy Park with adidas.”

Target Debuts Pillowfort’s Sensory-Friendly Line

In an attempt to appeal to kids and their comfort, Target introduced a new Pillowfort sensory-friendly assortment of sensory-friendly products.

This line is so Target that if someone described the line and asked what retailer is merchandising these products, almost every retail and licensing exec that would answer Target. While it is a small line in the scope of the overall merch strategy, it does differentiate the retailer and once again demonstrates how Target connects with its shoppers or guests and delivers products based on comprehensive research.

“We want all guests to feel welcome and included at Target,” says Julie Guggemos, senior vice president, owned brand management and product design. “With our Cat & Jack and Universal Thread adaptive and sensory-friendly apparel, we’ve seen that little details can have a huge impact. I’m so proud to bring that spirit of inclusivity and incredible design to Pillowfort’s new sensory-friendly assortment, which hopefully can bring more ease and joy to our guests’ everyday lives.”

With close to 20 products, the collection includes a rocking chair, floor cushions, crash pad, hideaway tent, weighted blankets, and weighted plush to debut this summer.

Sears Turns to Home & Life

Following its recent troubles and bankruptcy, Sears is back in the headlines with a little positive news. The retailer announced plans to open three new Home & Life stores in May. Located in Anchorage, Alaska; Lafayette, Louisiana and Overland Park, Kansas, the store sizes will range from 10,000-15,000 sq. ft.

This announcement of three new stores hardly signals a turnaround for the venerable, but troubled retail chain. Sears can barely operate the 400 stores it has, let alone the thought of adding new stores. However, if the concept works, perhaps more of its stores can be converted to this format, which might help the company. The fact is that no strategy has truly helped the retailer for, more than a decade, so what if any real hope is there. Maybe Sears can franchise its Home & Life stores?

“The exciting new Sears Home & Life stores will carry power categories where Sears has a real strength: Appliances, mattresses and our home services business,” said Peter Boutros, chief brand officer for Sears and Kmart and president of Kenmore, Craftsman and DieHard brands. “We are here to serve these communities, and this is part of our strategy to maintain a presence in markets where we have right-sized our footprint. Sears Home & Life supports our strategic plan to become a stronger, more profitable business and these test stores will enable us to learn and improve as we move forward,” Boutros added.

The Sears Home & Life stores will be dedicated to the following categories:

  • Major appliances, including Kenmore and other leading appliance brands, displayed in kitchen and laundry vignettes.
  • Mattresses that members can try out from top brands, including: Tempur-Pedic, Beautyrest, Sealy, Serta, Simmons and Stearns & Foster.
  • Small kitchen appliances and an assortment of vacuums, floor care and home environment products.
  • Connected Home Products—a curated assortment of smart products that are relevant to members, who also will be able to learn how to set up a smart home with reliable appliances that are compatible with Alexa and Google+.

NBA Opens Store in China

With its longstanding commitment to the Chinese market, the National Basketball Association, Topsports and Nike opened the largest NBA Store in China and the league’s largest store outside North America. Located at the Intime Mall, Wangfujing in Beijing, the flagship store offers 1,145 square meters of retail space over two floors, with a wide variety of products including jerseys, footwear, NBA Style apparel, headwear, kids apparel, collectibles, basketballs, accessories and memorabilia.

“Our largest NBA Store outside North America underscores the NBA’s long-standing commitment to serving our fans in China,” said NBA China CEO Derek Chang.  “As the appetite for official NBA products continues to grow in China, this brand-new retail space will provide fans with authentic NBA gear and accessories, exclusive memorabilia and localized products that celebrate their passion for the NBA.”

“Our goal is to make the Beijing flagship NBA Store a landmark for NBA fans in Beijing by offering them the new retail experience and wide category of merchandise,” said Tian Zhong, deputy general manager of Topsports, the largest sports retailer in China. “We will leverage our extensive retail experience to work closely with the NBA and Nike to provide a variety of products, good customer experience and membership service to all the NBA fans in China.”

The first floor is designed as a Nike Hoop Dreams space and includes sections for Nike Basketball and Jordan Brand. Located on the second floor, the NBA Hardwood Classics section is the largest of its kind in mainland China and offers a wide selection of Mitchell & Ness jerseys and vintage NBA apparel, NBA headwear from New Era, and a variety of Spalding basketball products.

“The entire floor of Nike Basketball and Jordan Brand space is created to bring the most innovative basketball offerings and personalized service and experiences to NBA fans in China,” said Ari Chen, general manager of Nike Basketball in Greater China.  “As the official partner of NBA oncourt apparel and a long-term strategic partner of Topsports, we are happy to take our partnerships of developing the Chinese market to the next level and will continue to work together to unleash the passion and unlock the inspiration of basketball lovers in China.”

In the field: Barbie and Amazon

Mattel’s special Barbie merchandising display was front and center in the Amazon Books store at Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, NJ. The display, which features Barbie You Can Be Anything collection, makes a powerful statement and is the type of merchandising that TRU was so good at and that is less likely to be included in the toy departments of other retailers.

Quote of the Week: Dick’s CEO Commits to PL

“In 2019, we expect a continued strength as our private brands will play an important role in our space allocation and assortment strategies,” stated Edward W. Stack, chairman & CEO during an analyst’ call. “We will expand CALIA’s footprint in approximately 80 stores, launch a new athletic apparel brand in time for back to school that will replace Reebok, and enhance the quality of our existing offerings with a focus on product innovation. To support this strategy, we will continue to invest in our product development team to help us reach our $2 billion sales goal in private brands.”

Big Deal of the Week: Joester Loria

The Joester Loria Group is expanding its long-standing representation of PepsiCo North America’s portfolio of beverage brands into the Frito Lay portfolio of top-selling snack brands. The agency will rep Cheetos and Doritos and develop licensed products across a range of categories. The popularity of the brands among Gen Z will give JLG a strong platform for brand extensions.

Signing of the Week: Nike

Tennis superstar Naomi Osaka has agreed to a mega deal with Nike. The 21-year-old Osaka notched her first and second Grand Slam titles back-to-back at last year’s U.S. Open and more recently at the Australian Open in January. The Japanese star, who had previously been tied to rival adidas, will first wear Nike gear at the Stuttgart Grand Prix, which begins on April 22. She joins another tennis star and rival Serena Williams as a Nike client. Osaka already has deals with All Nippon Airways, Nissan and Citizen.

Congratulations to all LIMA Award Nominees

The International Licensing Industry Merchandisers Association made several changes to its annual awards program this year. Submissions and judging were held online, and the judging panel included nearly 150 executives from 18 different countries. With a record 622 submissions from 19 countries, 154 nominees were selected. The winners will be announced at the annual awards ceremony on June 4, during Licensing Expo in Las Vegas. Here’s the link to the full list.

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