“Re-Imagining” Entertainment – Dhimant Bakshi

We managed to catch up with Mr. Dhimant Bakshi, Jt CEO, Adlabs Imagica on the sidelines of the India Licensing Expo. To listen to the interview you can scroll to the bottom.


ILP: Give us a little background on Adlabs Imagica. We know its a 130 acre property in Khopoli, which is on the outskirts of Maharashtra and is India’s answer to DisneyLand, but tell us more about what you have to offer?

Dhimant: This is a dream our promoter Mr. Manmohan Shetty saw years ago when he visited DisneyLand in California and his dream was why can’t we create something with Indian content that is a themed destination with Indian pricing in approach but international in terms of ride quality and guest experience that is world class. It is a dream that we all live by. We firmly believe that the Indian demographic is perfectly poised for such an offering and we really want to give Indian-nes in our entire experience apart from various other international flavours that we can blend in, and get some of the best in class rides made. Some of our rides are as good as Universal or Disneyland both from a safety stand point and ride quality. So we also said we have to create Indian IP which is related to the park and convey the Indian-nes in what we really do.

ILP: Talk us through the buffet you have on offer at Adlabs Imagica. You have a waterpark, a theme park, a snowpark etc.

Dhimant: Our approach was to build an entertainment district really. So we started off with the theme park which is a 74 acre property with 25 rides and attractions. Apart from that we have a 20 acre water park with 14 rides and the wave pool, apart from that we have India’s largest snowpark with real edible snow and we have a 4 star hotel called Novotel Imagica , managed very well by Novotel. So apart from these 4 anchor properties we recently launched “House of Stars” which is India’s first official Bollywood hall of fame which has sets as well as characters. Apart from that we have “Eyelusion” which is trick-eye museum, which is a first time one would see this concept in a theme park. We also have integrated with “Chhota Bheem: The Ride” which is the first character based roller coaster ride in a theme park. And since you used the word buffet, I must use the word “sumptuous” to describe our offering at Adlabs Imagica. One can really pick and choose what they would like to consume. There’s something for everyone. And what really tops this up is after a day of fun and entertaining experience, there is a wide range of themed-cuisines options which is designed and operated by our own team. This is coupled with merchandise and fantastic guest experience that, of course, has to go without saying.

ILP: So now lets talk about the business of licensing – how do you think licensing can help Adlabs Imagica?

Dhimant – Apart from being very obvious that it adds to the revenue stream, more importantly what we feel is that there is a need of Phy-gital experience that one has to get. We as a theme park can give a physical-outdoor recreational experience that one would really look for. With the onslaught of media and so many characters coming and going, they need a place to live in really, when most other characters start from a animation, TV show or game etc.

Ours are all original characters – designed, created and owned by our in-house team, its a long journey. While we will look up to Disney for inspiration, our efforts is to slowly and steadily make products and services that are appropriate for Indian market. Make them affordable, yet aspirational without trying to charge an undue premium. And we really want to fight piracy and find a more collaborative solution of licensing wherein it’s a more revenue share approach as well. It is not just me charging you a licensing fee and not caring what happens to you later. We want a win-win and collaborative approach for both parties.

ILP: How is this merchandise being distributed? Is it primarily at the theme park?

Adlabs Imagica’s range of bags

Dhimant – Yes, primarily at the theme and water park, but very interestingly we have made forays into Hamleys. it’s more a retail arrangement not a licensing arrangement like a DTR. Apart from that we also have Amazon, Flipkart, Myntra, Jabong, Limeroad, First Cry – many such online channels through which we sell our merchandise. And people recognise and love our characters, whether it’s a Gautam Budhnagar or Trivandrum, the love travels far and wide and thats what really gives us the high / impetus to create more such characters. (So the strategy seems to be make them fall in love with the characters at the theme park and get them to buy when they travel back?) Catch them young and watch them grow.

ILP: Any other plans in the L&M space that you can talk us through right now?

Dhimant – This is really our first effort in the licensing market. The way we planned was to spend the first 4 years building our own characters, we really were not open to getting in external characters, primarily for the reason, that once you get into the trading mindset you will never build your own brands. Apart from the investment, it’s the time and effort that our team has spent on creating the characters from scratch and getting them right, and then, opening doors for other characters. We see Imagica as a place for all characters, very secular. Infact, we are open to other alliances. We definitely want that India progresses and content is consumed well, and merchandising options is going to be a logical output. If you see right now with the number of channels, it is complete media over-load so 1 is to build affinity and 2 to retain. Building affinity may happen but is retention really happening? We believe in having a 360 degree view. And the term which was used yesterday was ‘Sustainability’. There are conventional channels like TV and digital media for animation, but there is going to be a humongous overload and people will NEED to take a break and look towards physical form of recreation(then all roads will lead to places like Adlabs Imagica) and I hope and pray the industry opens up to more such collaborative licensing models. It shouldn’t be You vs Me, it should be YOU & ME.


ILP: Whats your advice for a budding entrepreneur wanting to start a business especially given the tectonic changes we are seeing in the retail space?

Dhimant – Before I go to entrepreneurs, I think what you have articulated as a question is a great business need. There are many angel networks and organisations like LIMA who can offer direction and guidance to young geeks and entrepreneurs and get sounded off on what they can do and receive feedback. We are happy to be a part of such organisations. There are many buzzwords and many people get floored into them without really taking a stock of their situation. Coming to your question, at an industry level we should probably build an incubation centre if I may use the word. And second, seeing what your idea can do for people, solve a problem, not just because there’s a whole lot of moolah sitting there and let me make money out of it. It is about going to the basics and have it all well thought out. It has to be a more long term approach. Essentially, it should be long term.

Thanks for the chat and the insights and thanks for talking to us at IndiaLicensingpost.


New slot game brings Village People to centre stage

ITV Studios Global has tapped Microgaming to create a new online slot game inspired by its retro disco brand Village People.

ITVS GE brokered the deal, which covers territories across the globe, excluding the U.S.

The new game will celebrate Village People’s music catalog, which includes “Y.M.C.A.,” “Macho Man” and “Go West”; as well as its characters—the biker, construction worker and cowboy.

Key design elements include vibrant colors and flashing lights, a nod to the disco era.

The Village People Game is set to debut in summer 2019.

source: https://www.licenseglobal.com/entertainment/new-slot-games-bring-village-people-center-stage

‘Femina FLAUNT’ launches its Fragrance range

Urvashi Rautela unveils the range at India Licensing Expo 2018

Femina FLAUNT fragrance launch - (L-R) Mr. Gaurav Marya, Chairman, Franchise India Group, Ms. Urvashi Rautela,Mr. Sandeep Dahiya, Director & business head – Brand Extension, BCCL
Femina FLAUNT fragrance launch – (L-R) Mr. Gaurav Marya, Chairman, Franchise India Group, Ms. Urvashi Rautela,Mr. Sandeep Dahiya, Director & business head – Brand Extension, BCCL

Femina FLAUNT, the retail brand by Femina (owned by Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd.), launched their Fragrance category at the India Licensing Expo (ILE) 2018, with Urvashi Rautela (Miss Diva Miss Universe India 2015) as the face of the range. Femina FLAUNT’s fragrance line follows Femina FLAUNT’s successful foray into the consumer products space with Shoppers Stop across core fashion categories – Apparel, Footwear, Bags and Accessories. Femina FLAUNT’s fashion range is currently available across 60 Shoppers Stop stores, in over 20 cities and its eyewear range being sold from across more than 300 retail touchpoints across India. The range has been developed in collaboration with Sterling Parfums in Dubai and is being distributed offline in India by SaiHira Distributors.

Urvashi Rautela (Miss Diva Miss Universe India 2015)
Urvashi Rautela (Miss Diva Miss Universe India 2015)

 The Femina FLAUNT fragrance range has been created around different moods and facets of an independent modern Indian woman. The range offers four different fragrances – Mystique, Bold, Chic and Allure. The range  celebrates the complexities of today’s woman’s duality her boldness and sensuality, her moods and determination, her timeless elegance and fierceness, her diehard romance and fearless independence. On the packaging aspect, the highlight of the range is the luminous bottles, designed in glass with cut facets on the sides, to give it a sharp, yet elegant look. The content of the bottle stand out with their unique colors – Exotic green, radiant purple, sparkling gold and peachy blush. The Femina Flaunt EDPs (100ml) are competitively priced at INR 1799, and the range will be available across Shopper’s Stop outlets, Nykaa.com and Flipkart.com, apart from key modern as well as conventional retail.

 Speaking about the range, Sandeep Dahiya, Director & Business Head – Brand Extension, BCCL, said, “Fragrances is today an ‘essential’ category for the Femina FLAUNT woman and is an expression of her personality and mood. We’re confident of the Femina FLAUNT fragrance range resonating well with the consumers, given its unique packaging, competitive price point and long-lasting fragrances.”

 Commenting on the range, Urvashi Rautela says, “I’m ecstatic to be the face of Femina FLAUNT Fragrances. Fragrance is such an intimate and personal expression and I am excited to see that that the Femina FLAUNT range of fragrances are comparable to some of the best known international brands. Each fragrance in this range is so unique and wonderful, that you feel like a completely new person when you use it. And that feeling is wonderful!”

The Description of the Fragrances:


A fruity, woody and musky scent with a burst of blackcurrant on the top interlaced with jasmine on a base of cedar and musk.


An aromatic spicy scent with sage, cardamom, grapefruit with a touch of iris intertwined with violet leaves, lavender and spicy cinnamon. The base composes of intense woods,  tonka bean with hint of ambergris.


Lively, spirited & Joyful fragrance created to look deep into and enjoy the Nature.


A mesmerizing scent of love and romance. Floral top notes open with sensual essences of jasmine, bitter orange wrapped in sweet notes of peach and magnolia blossom. Base consists of soft amber and musky notes intertwined with white flowers

Nominees Announced for 2018 LIMA Australia and New Zealand Licensing Awards

The Licensing industry response to the first ever LIMA Australian & New Zealand Licensing Awards has been exceptional with over 200 submissions received. The engagement from all sectors was evident with some of the highlights including:

  • Over 140 companies represented in the submissions
  • Over 75 different License brands were represented
  • Over 40 different retailers were represented

The LIMA ANZ Judging Panel has decided on the nominees which are listed below for the Product, Retail and License Awards.


Apparel, accessories or soft lines licensing product or campaign of the Year:

  • BONDS: Star Wars – Adult & Children’s Nightwear / Underwear (The Walt Disney Company)
  • CAPRICE: L.O.L Surprise!– Girl’s Apparel & Accessories (MGA Entertainment & Haven Global)
  • CAPRICE: Harry Potter – Infant & Toddler Apparel (Warner Bros.)
  • DESIGNWORKS: JoJo Siwa – Girl’s Apparel (Nickelodeon & Haven Global)
  • DESIGNWORKS: Peter Rabbit– Infant Apparel (Frederick Warne & Co & Haven Global)
  • FUNTASTIC: JoJo Siwa – JoJo Bows (Nickelodeon & Haven Global)
  • RUBIE’S DEERFIELD: PJ Masks – Children’s Costumes (Entertainment One)

Hard lines licensing product or campaign of the Year:

  • BENSONS TRADING: L.O.L Surprise! – Showbags (MGA Entertainment & Haven Global)
  • HEADSTART INT’L: Winnie The Pooh – Limited Edition Plush (The Walt Disney Company)
  • HEADSTART INT’L: Sesame Street – Tickle Me Elmo Toy (Sesame Workshop & Haven Global)
  • HUNTER LEISURE: JoJo Siwa – Hard Lines Range (Nickelodeon & Haven Global)
  • HUNTER LEISURE: Paw Patrol– Hard Lines Range (Nickelodeon & Haven Global)
  • IMPACT ROCK MERCHANDISE: Star Wars – Doormats (The Walt Disney Company)

Publishing and paper goods licensing product or campaign of the Year:

  • FIVE MILE PRESS: The Wiggles – Emma’s Ballet Class (Book & Tutu Gift Set) (The Wiggles Pty Ltd)
  • HENDERSON GREETINGS: Rachael Hale – Greeting Cards Range (Jewel Branding & Black Mint Licensing)
  • HUNTER LEISURE: PJ Masks – Stationery, Arts & Craft Range (Entertainment One)
  • LAKE PRESS: JoJo Siwa – Make Your Own Bow Kit (Nickelodeon & Haven Global)
  • PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE AUSTRALIA: Peppa Pig – Publishing Range (Entertainment One)
  • SCHOLASTIC AUSTRALIA: DC Comics Ooshies – Collector’s Guide (Warner Bros. & HeadStart Intl)

FMCG, Licensed promotions and events product or campaign of the Year:

  • DORITOS – SMITH’S SNACK FOOD CO.: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom – Doritos Colossal: Chargrilled Steak Chips (NBC Universal)
  • HOT SHOTS AUSTRALIA: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom – Fruit Snacks & Novelty Range (NBC Universal)
  • PRINGLES – PRINGLES AUSTRALIA: DC Comics Justice League – Pringles On Pack Promotion (Warner Bros.)
  • KRISPY KREME: The Simpsons– Limited Edition Donut (20th Century Fox & Merchantwise)
  • ON SHELF: Baileys – Premium Ice Coffee (Diageo & Assembl Brands)
  • SUMMIT SPORTS: Hyundai A-League / Star Wars – Star Wars Round Promotion (The Walt Disney Company & Football Federation Aus)

Events product or campaign of the Year*:

  • THE ENTERTAINMENT STORE: Shopkins – Shopping Centre Events (Moose Toys & Merchantwise)
  • SHOWTIME ATTRACTIONS: Peter Rabbit – Live Event Experience (Frederick Warne & Co & Haven Global)
  • SHOWTIME ATTRACTIONS: Where’s Wally – Shopping Centre Tour (NBC Universal DreamWorks & Centa IP)
  • SHOWTIME ATTRACTIONS: Nickelodeon – Sydney Easter Parade (Nickelodeon & Haven Global)
  • VILLAGE ROADSHOW ENT.: DC Comics– DC Rivals Hypercoaster (Warner Bros.)
  • AMPLE PROJECTS – VIVID SYDNEY: May Gibbs – Snugglepot & Cuddlepie Animated Display (May Gibbs & Merchantwise)

Licensing product innovation of the Year:

  • CAPRICE: Harry Potter – Infant & Toddler Apparel (Warner Bros.)
  • IMPACT ROCK MERCHANDISE: Multiple Licenses – Doormats
  • MIGHTY KINGDOM: Shopkins – Shopkins World! (Moose Toys)
  • MITCH DOWD: Multiple Licenses – Twidla Pop Up Print Station
  • OTA MARKETING: NRL – Light Up Smart Wigs (NSW Rugby League & VBM)
  • ULTIMATE SOURCE & CREATA AUSTRALIA: Gobsmax – Toy Range (Centa IP)

* Award added due to volume of submissions


Best Retailer for Film, Television, Character and Entertainment Licensed products:

  • BIG W

Best Retailer for Brand, Corporate, Fashion, Art and Digital Licensed products:

  • MYER

Best Retailer for Sports, Fitness, Street & Lifestyle Licensed products*:


Best Online Retailer for Licensed products:

  • JB HI-FI

Best Retail Marketing Campaign (in-store, online, social media) for Licensed products:

  • COSTUMEBOX.COM.AU: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom – Costume Promotion
  • COTTON ON BODY: Bouffants & Broken Hearts – Apparel & Accessories Collection
  • TARGET AUSTRALIA: Marvel Avengers Infinity War – Cross Category Activation
  • TARGET AUSTRALIA: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom – Toy Launch Promotion
  • THE WAREHOUSE: Peter Rabbit – Cross Category Activation
  • TYPO: The Simpsons – Cross Category Activation

* Award title amended


Infant or Pre-school License of the Year:

  • PAW PATROL: Nickelodeon & Haven Global
  • PEPPA PIG: Entertainment One
  • PJ MASKS: Entertainment One
  • SESAME STREET: Sesame Workshop & Haven Global
  • THE WIGGLES: The Wiggles Pty Ltd

Girl’s License of the Year:

  • BARBIE: Mattel
  • DISNEY PRINCESS: The Walt Disney Company
  • JOJO SIWA: Nickelodeon & Haven Global
  • L.O.L SURPRISE!: MGA Entertainment & Haven Global
  • SHOPKINS: Moose Toys & Merchantwise

Boy’s License of the Year:

  • BATMAN: Warner Bros.
  • JUSTICE LEAGUE: Warner Bros.
  • MARVEL: The Walt Disney Company
  • STAR WARS: The Walt Disney Company

Digital, Video Game or New Media License of the Year:

  • EMOJI: The Emoji Company & Merchantwise
  • HALO: Microsoft & Merchantwise
  • PUSHEEN THE CAT: Pusheen Corp. & Haven Global
  • RICK & MORTY: Turner International Australia & Haven Global
  • SONIC THE HEDGEHOG: SEGA & Merchantwise

Brand, Corporate, Fashion or Art License of the Year:

  • AUSTRALIAN HOUSE & GARDEN: Bauer Media & Talisman Licensing
  • BAILEYS: Diageo & Assembl Brands
  • RACHAEL HALE: Jewel Branding & Black Mint / Global Licensing
  • WHERE’S WALLY: NBC Universal DreamWorks & Centa IP

Sports, Fitness, Street or Lifestyle License of the Year*:

  • AFL: Australian Football League
  • ALL BLACKS: New Zealand Rugby & VBM NZ
  • BIG BASH LEAGUE: Cricket Australia & VBM
  • EVERLAST: IBML & Designworks
  • FILA FITNESS: FILA Korea & Hunter Products
  • NRL: National Rugby League & VBM

* Award title amended

LIMA Australia would like to congratulate all the nominees for 2018!

Go Barefoot and Others follow team for new collection

Fashion house Z Supply has inked a one-year deal with iconic Hawaiian brand Go Barefoot for use with its brand Others Follow.

Fashion house Z Supply has inked a one-year deal with iconic Hawaiian brand Go Barefoot for use with its brand Others Follow.

The Others Follow Spring 2019 line will honor Go Barefoot, which first introduced Hawaiian short to the world in the 1950s.

“My Father and I are excited to have Others Follow as our licensing partner to design, create and distribute a thrilling and relevant Go Barefoot women’s capsule collection,” says Craig Hara, vice president, Go Barefoot. “Since our beginnings in 1957, our family has always been protective and mindful of our family brand’s integrity and respectful of our island heritage.”

The capsule collection will include rompers, kimono-style robes, midi-dresses and more. Items will range in price from $29 to $59 and will be available next Spring at specialty boutiques nationwide and online at www.styleissimple.com.

Source: https://www.licenseglobal.com/apparel-accessories/go-barefoot-and-others-follow-team-new-collection

Second Annual Licensing Expo China Almost Doubles In Size

Attendee and Exhibitor Growth Up, Floor Space Grew 72%

Shanghai, August 14, 2018Licensing Expo China, sponsored by the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association (LIMA), kicked off at the National Exhibition and Convention Center (NECC) in Shanghai on July 25, 2018. The show facilitated connections between brand owners & agents, consumer product makers, licensees, and retailers across animation , art, entertainment, gaming, and non-profit and other influential categories. Nearly doubling the size of Licensing Expo China 2017, this year’s show hosted 123 exhibitors and 425 brands to bolster the rapid development of China’s growing licensing market. Attendance increased 46%, drawing over 14,000 attendees and attracting an additional 37,000+ attendees from co-located event, Children Baby Maternity Expo (CBME).

According to the latest 2018 Report of Global Licensing Survey released by LIMA, retail and related revenue generated globally by the trademark licensing business in 2017 rose 3.3% to 271.6 billion USD. China and Hong Kong also saw significant growth in the licensing market. This year, Licensing Expo China hosted popular entertainment and cartoon properties such as Angry Birds, Emoji, Pancoat, Paul Frank, PAW Patrol, Peppa Pig, Rilakkuma, Shaun the Sheep and a variety of properties including BBC Earth, British Museum, Caster, Produce 101, Song Yang Art, and The King’s Avatar, among others.

“As people raise their living standards, culture and arts licensing is boosting consumption and brand extensions. Alfilo Brands introduced the British Museum, The National Gallery, Victoria and Albert Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, BBC EARTH at Licensing Expo China 2018,” said Mr. Yizan He, Founder & CEO of Afilo Brands Co., Ltd.

“It is an honor to exclusively sponsor Licensing Expo China, an international B2B trading platform embarking on its second year,” said Maura Regan, President, LIMA.

The second annual Licensing Expo China had an array of speakers from all over the world, including Matt Beecher, Vice President of Global Consumer Products, Blizzard Entertainment; Laurine van Rooijen, Head of Licensing and Wholesale, Van Gogh Museum Enterprises; Elie Dekel, Vice President of Consumer Products & Brand Development, Legendary Entertainment; Allen Wang, Vice President of Consumer Products, Greater China, Universal Pictures; and Nancy Jiang, GM of Licensing Dep., IQIYI.

Other event highlights include:

  • The China Licensing Awards, in conjuction with LIMA, took place on July 25. In this ceremony, the winners of each of the 12 award categories were disclosed.
  • The Neo-Cultural Creativity & New IP Licensing and Tencent Interactive Entertainment Licensing Partners Conference, co-organized by UBM China and Tencent Interactive Entertainment.
  • The 2018 Micro Animation Contest and awards ceremony, part of the 2018 Micro Film Contest co-organized by UBM China, Shanghai Animation and Cartoon Association.
  • The Film & Gaming Licensing Zone hosted Tencent Video, Shanda, Bandai Namco, and other enterprises that are developing a licensing market for brands/IP properties including films, TV series, variety shows, cyber videos, entertainment, and games.
  • The Museum, Culture and Art Zone hosted the British Museum, The National Gallery, Van Gogh Museum, Shanghai Museum, Liu Haisu Art Museum, andother world-renowned museum brands/IP properties. Several art museum brands/IP properties such as Fuyun Art, Song Yang Art, and Artduoduo were also showcased and provided licensors and licensees with the opportunity to connect with each other.
  • Matchmaking Service debuted at Licensing Expo China 2018 and reported over 3,300 meetings took place onsite via the Service.

Connect with Licensing Expo China (#licensingexpochina):

Future Licensing Dates and Events:

  • Brand Licensing Europe: London, October 9 – 11, 2018
  • Licensing Expo Japan: Tokyo, Japan, March 13 – 15, 2019
  • Licensing Expo: Las Vegas, Nevada, June 4 – 6, 2019

source: https://www.licenseglobal.com/licensing-events/second-annual-licensing-expo-china-nearly-doubles-size

Getting SKOOL’d in the business of FUN

Many consider Mr. R Jeswant (SVP – Sales & Mktg) Funskool India to be one of the doyennes of the Indian toy industry. We managed to get some time with him for a chat about his life before and at Funskool!

ILP: Tell us a little about your journey before you joined Funskool?

R. Jeswant (RJ): I have been with Funskool (India) Limited for over 18years now after joining the company in April 2000. Prior to that, I’ve worked with TI Cycles of India as Regional Manager at Delhi and Kolkata and was heading Product Management when I left in 1996 . I have also had a stint with Blue Star Ltd as  General Manager (Sales) in their Packaged Airconditioning Division at Chennai and before joining Funskool I did spend 3 years in Sana’a(the capital of The Republic of Yemen) heading a company which represented Philips, Whirlpool etc… as exclusive distributors for the Republic of Yemen.

ILP: You’ve been at Funskool for more than 18 years. How has the journey been, please tell us a little about the highlights.

RJ: It has truly been a fantastic experience. I started as DGM(Sales), then GM (Sales & Marketing) and am Sr VP(Sales & Marketing) now. From when I started to now, the business has grown more than 10 times, We have over the last few years been able to build many of our own brands, have added many new licenses, represent many more companies as exclusive distributors for India etc…Many of us have been with the company for long periods and the journey together to get Funskool to its position as India’s leading toy company has been a wonderful experience.

ILP: Looking at the Funskool catalogue you seem to have licenses from all the majors like Cartoon Network, Disney, Warner Bros and many more. How have these brands fared in the Indian market from a toys point of view?

RJ: Licenses are beginning to work very well in toys though it is nowhere near what it is in the more developed markets. The toy market here estimated at around US$  450 million at retail is about 0.5% of the world toy market of nearly US$ 90 Billion. In addition to Disney, Warner Brothers, Viacom etc… we also manufacture products for the Indian market under license from some of the major international toy companies like Hasbro of USA, Takara Tomy of Japan, Ravensburger of Germany, Jumbo of Netherlands, University Games of USA and many others.

ILP: You also retail your own brand of toys – Giggles for infants and toddlers, Handicrafts – your arts and craft line, FunDough – your range of colorful dough and Play & Learn – your range of educational products. Was there are a conscious shift to launch these product lines to fill gaps that overseas brands were not able to meet?

RJ: Affordability is very critical in the Indian market . Customs duties went up by 10% in the last union budget, GST introduced in July 2017 resulted in roughly a 5% increase over VAT, introduction of new testing standards for all imports into India, all resulted in imports becoming more expensive. With our own brands and licensed products manufactured at our factories we are able to hit optimum price points which take products to within reach of the average Indian consumer for toys.

ILP: Considering you’ve witnessed the toy industry from such close quarters for almost 2 decades, what are some of your key learnings?

RJ: There is very little history for toys in India. Most parents have not had much exposure to branded toys and do not understand the need for toys in the development of children. The toy market is just evolving here and there is a dearth of shelf space for toys. The high rentals in malls and the rather low returns from the toy area compared to some of the more evolved categories result in a lower allocation of space for toys. Affordability is critical and we have an advantage here because of our ability to manufacture quality products at affordable prices. We have also embarked on a program which we have called “Operation Reach” to get to smaller towns where branded toys are sparsely available as of now. We hope this will give us the first mover advantage and pay off in the long term. During the last 6 months, we have added 75 small towns to our distribution network which is, without a doubt, the largest in the country. We service over 5000 retail points, have 16 warehouses across the country, 6 Regional offices and over 85 sales and marketing personnel.

ILP: It is estimated that 20% of the Indian population is between 1-12 years old. That’s a HUGE addressable market, isn’t it?

RJ: This is the reason why all major toy companies are making a beeline for India. They all feel that India with its large young population will be the market of the future. We are very upbeat about the future and estimate the market to grow at a CAGR in double digits for several years into the future.

ILP: According to the LIMA global study 2017, the Toys category comes in 2nd (13.3%) after apparel (14.9%) of the Global retail sales of licensed merchandise which amounts to approx. $262 Bn. India seems to be lagging far behind! What can be done to improve this scenario?

RJ: With more young parents who have had some exposure to branded toys and licenses coming into the market, we expect to see exponential growth in the market soon. With viewership for Indian Animation surging (Chotta Bheem is a glorious example) and companies like Disney, Warner Bros and other licensors building awareness for their properties in India, the market for licensed products is bound to grow. With manufacturing activity for toys picking up in India, the licensed products should also become more affordable and that is when the sales will really grow faster.

ILP: How do you keep the wheels of innovation churning within the company, considering you are catering to a very demanding audience?

RJ: The toy industry is driven by novelty and by merchandise based on TV animation and movies. We have a full-fledged team of design and product development professionals who work tirelessly to come up with new toy concepts. The concepts are then tested with children, retailers and our own sales teams before they see the light of day! Tooling is expensive and therefore till the Indian market really evolves molded toys based on animation or movies will have to be imported to a large extent as the Indian market at this moment is just not big enough to justify large investments in tooling unless a worldwide market is targeted. This will take time. However, when it comes to the generic infant & preschool toys market which is the biggest chunk of the Indian market, we have made considerable investments in tooling because the generic line of products tend to have longer life cycles. Our investments in our own brands like Giggles, Fundough etc..have paid off well and we are now present with some of our own brands in markets outside India as well.

ILP: According to your website, Funskool is India’s largest toy company, with a revenue of around INR 220 Cr. (public source) What percentage of this is attributable to Indian brands vs foreign brands?

RJ: We expect our locally manufactured products to be roughly 40% of our domestic business during the current financial year.

ILP: We also noticed that your website funskoolindia.com doesn’t sell toys directly but diverts traffic to Amazon. Is this because of FDI norms? Is a full-fledged e-commerce shop in the offing? Do you think it will deliver adequate volumes?

RJ: We sell our products online through Amazon, Flipkart, First cry and on many other e-commerce platforms. While there are no FDI norms that prevent us from selling through our own online platform, we feel that at this point of time it may be more prudent to sell through the major e-commerce players. We may look at having our own e-commerce portal sometime in the future.

ILP: Which is the best performing brand for you?

RJ: The biggest success for us has been Giggles, our own Infant & Preschool brand. This has been most satisfying and we expect the brand to grow much stronger in the years to come.

ILP: You mentioned in another interview that Rubik’s cube is one of the most pirated toys in India. Any theories on why this is so?

RJ: Rubik’s cube for which we are the only authorized licensee in India sells very large numbers. The product that we distribute is of a much higher quality than the cheap imitations that are available in the market. Knock Off’s or imitations of best selling products are bound to flood the market and that is happening in the case of Rubik’s cubes as well . However, where there have been patent/trademark violations strict action has been taken in the past.

ILP: To what extent does piracy affect the board games / toy industry? What measures has the government taken to reduce the same?

RJ: Legal remedies are always available to check piracy but are often cumbersome and not worth the effort. While piracy is a problem, it has not got out of hand probably because of the size of the Indian market itself!

ILP: What are your key checkboxes before you license a brand?

RJ: The relevance of the license to the Indian consumer, how the license lends itself to toys, investments required in developing licensed merchandise are all considered before we decide to go ahead.

ILP: Which distribution channel has proven to be most effective for the toys category?

RJ: For high priced toys, toy specialists like Hamley’s and large stand-alone toy stores are very important. However for brands like Giggles which we target at a wider spectrum of customers, hypermarkets, and mom & pop stores are very important. We have a strong presence in toy specialists, hypermarkets, department stores as well as Mom & Pop stores. Our own retail chain of “Funskool” stores now has 16 stores and we are targeting to increase the number rapidly.

ILP:What would be your advice to an entrepreneur looking to get into the licensing business?

RJ: To tread carefully! Toy distribution is not easy and unless you have the infrastructure to reach out to across the country and to service the network it may be better to stick to a limited geographic area.

ILP: Tell us of one instance which comes to mind where licensing helped?

RJ: We are hoping to have a licensed range of our own Giggles brand in the market soon and we are all hoping that it will happen soon. Our biggest success in licensing has been with Beyblades. We have had the Beyblade license for India for several years now and the products are sourced from Takara Tomy of Japan. Over a period of time Beyblades has probably been the largest selling toy for boys in India and continues to do well. Whenever a new animation season of Beyblades is on air, sales start to peak. We will have new animation on air soon and are looking forward to sales hitting new highs!

LIMA UK Names Nominees for UK Rising Stars Award 2018

LIMA announced the final six nominees for the 2018 UK Rising Stars Award during the LIMA UK Young professionals Summer Party at Nickelodeon London. The Award recognises excellence among junior licensing industry professionals in the United Kingdom. The winner will be announced during the 2018 Licensing Awards, taking place in London on 11 September.

The 2018 finalists are:

  • Stephanie Griggs, Licensing & Design Director, The Roald Dahl Story Company
  • Jens Drinkwater, Licensing Manager, Global Merchandising Services
  • Emily Campan, Associate Publisher, Egmont
  • Alex Salisbury, Retail Licensing Manager, Nickelodeon Viacom Consumer Products
  • Katie Sharp, Brand Development Manager, Beanstalk
  • Tasmyn Knight, Licensing Associate, Cartoon Network

“LIMA received a record number of submissions this year – a major increase over 2017 – and the judges found it very difficult to make a decision on the final six. LIMA is delighted the UK licensing industry is supporting the future of the business and nominating their extremely talented young licensing staff for this great annual award,” said Ryan Beaird, LIMA UK Marketing and Operations Manager. “We wish to thank Nickelodeon for hosting us and also our 2018 YPN events sponsor, Octane5.”

“We’re thrilled to be hosting LIMA’s Rising Star Nominee event, supporting up and coming talent in the industry is so important and we wish the nominees the best of luck” said Marianne James, Viacom – Vice President, Commercial Partnerships, Consumer Products & Experiences UK & Ireland.