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Inspirational Brand Licensing Europe

With Brand Licensing Europe set to open its doors in less than two weeks (at ExCeL London, October 1-3), the show’s brand director, Anna Knight gives her views on why the market for licensed housewares is brimming with opportunities:

Above: Anna Knight, brand director for Brand Licensing Europe.
Above: Anna Knight, brand director for Brand Licensing Europe.

“A few years ago, house prices in the UK were rising fast. So fast, that many people couldn’t afford to buy or move and, instead, were opting to stay put, re-mortgage, refit, refurbish and rebuild.

However, the ONS recently revealed that house prices in London had suffered their biggest fall (6.7 per cent) in a decade and Right Move declared they had more sellers than buyers on their books (more than at any time since 2015). Yet, despite being a buyer’s market, it remains sluggish.

Why? Because the average house price in London sits at just under £500,000 (though please show me any house in London selling for under half a million, I’m yet to find one), making it impossible for many first time buyers to get on the property ladder; because buyers are understandably worried about Brexit and political uncertainty; because sellers don’t want to sell at such ‘low’ prices and lose money.

While this isn’t great news for estate agents, it’s brilliant for the housewares market. We may not be moving home, but what we are doing is investing in the ones we are in now and buying new accessories, switching up colour schemes and refreshing our interiors so that we feel like we’re living in a new place.

We’re sprucing up our lounges with new cushions and blankets, bedrooms with new linen, bathrooms with new towels, soap dispensers and toiletries, and, importantly, our kitchens and dining rooms with new toasters, kettles, cookware, tableware and glassware.

In 2017, the UK licensed housewares market was estimated to be worth $238 million*, accounting for 3.5 per cent of global sales of $6.76 billion, a rise of 3.7 per cent on the previous year. It’s a healthy, robust and growing market that’s being fed partly by art and design brand owners (such as Sophie Conran), but also by lifestyle brands (think Kellogg’s) and, to a lesser degree, celebrity chefs, who flooded the market with product over the last decade without always delivering at retail.

Above: An example of a lifestyle brand – Kellogg’s Vintage homewares by Kimm & Miller.
Above: An example of a lifestyle brand – Kellogg’s Vintage homewares by Kimm & Miller.

Richard Pink is managing director of Pink Key Licensing and a BLE exhibitor and panel moderator. When I spoke to him about this development, he explained: “Celebrity chefs have been a strong trend in licensing for the last four or five years; they cleverly jumped on the bandwagon.

“But some of their campaigns were not as well thought out as they could have been. Instead of focusing on extending their IP based on their brands’ core values and USPs (i.e. recognising why consumers loved them and creating product that truly resonates), they were often more focused on being first to market without trying hard enough to differentiate themselves from all the other celebrity chef brands out there.”

One brand Richard worked with is Jane Asher who, he explained, was very smart at understanding her brand values and how to differentiate it.

“Jane was always adamant she’s not a celebrity chef but a cake maker,” he explained. “And that allowed us to create a brand licensing programme that focused solely on baking tools and rule out a whole bunch of products that were simply not right for her.”

When it comes to adapting core values into a celebrity chef licensing programme, Richard believes that Jamie Oliver is one brand who nailed it every step of the way. I also feel that Nadiya Hussain’s range developed by BlissHome and which hit retail last year, follows Richard’s template perfectly.

Above: Nadiya Hussain was interviewed at last year’s BLE.
Above: Nadiya Hussain was interviewed at last year’s BLE.

Not only do the products reflect Nadiya’s personality, love of colour and Bangladeshi heritage, but BlissHome has also cleverly created a story behind the brand, which gives consumers another way in to relate to her, feel a part of her life and share her values.

Nadiya’s love of homeware came from her mother, who (says Nadiya) “could never bear to throw away a plate, they all had different patterns and designs, everything was mixed and matched.” This vibrant collection of tableware, kitchen textiles, home fragrance and spice racks is embellished with a medley of colour and patterns including Nadiya’s signature palm print… “It was important for me to include the talipot palm as it evokes memories of my grandfather who planted one in his garden in Bangladesh. The tree is very special as it only flowers once, after 100 years.”

Above: One of this year’s License This! three Brand & Design finalists is MINU’ Tiny Little Wonders (Italy).
Above: One of this year’s License This! three Brand & Design finalists is MINU’ Tiny Little Wonders (Italy).

At BLE, we have so many inspirational brands with housewares potential right across the show floor, from art and design, to brands and lifestyle. Our License This! finalists are often a fabulous source of inspiration, too. Pubuku, for example, showed us how it’s beautifully modern and quirky greetings cards designs translated onto housewares. So, don’t miss the final on Thursday October 3 at 1pm in the License Global Theatre.

To register go to


Top: Anna Knight surrounded by characters at last year’s Brand Licensing Europe.

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