Warner Bros is intertwined in almost every child’s life, whether it is Looney Tunes or Merry Melodies, or the ‘action packed’ Batman and Tom and Jerry, or the blockbuster Harry Potter. This US-based ‘giant’ which is at the forefront of every aspect of the entertainment industry, ranging from feature films to television, home entertainment and animation, has a vast library that boasts of more than 61,000 hours of programming including nearly 6,500 feature films and 3,000 television programs. And, Warner Bros Consumer Products, the licensing arm, works with more than 3,700 partners globally for their iconic properties like DC Comics’ Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and Looney Tunes, amongst others. In India, Warner Bros Consumer Products launched Kids’ WB, an exclusive store, in partnership with Suncorp Exim at Coimbatore, earlier this year. This store showcases the entire range of Warner Bros’ licensed merchandise across various categories offered in India, including back to school products, personal care, publishing and stationery, and will soon be opened in Chandigarh, too. In addition, the company plans to expand the store network to Jaipur, Delhi and Mumbai, shortly, and this retail concept is based on either a standalone store or shop-in-shop with its partners. And, buoyed by the success here, Warner Bros Consumer Products also plans to expand its licensing activities to real estate and live shows. “Weak rupee hurting licensees”, says Preston Kevin Lewis, Managing Director – Australia, New Zealand & India, Warner Bros Consumer Products Warner Bros is expanding its repertoire of licensing characters in the rapidly growing Indian market. As part of this strategy, this US-based company will pay a key focus on its characters - Hobbit and Godzilla next year. In a candid conversation, Preston Kevin Lewis, Managing Director – Australia, New Zealand & India, Warner Bros Consumer, highlighted their strategy to grab a larger share of the market here. Retailer: Kindly highlight Warner Bros’ licensing activities in India? Preston Lewis (PL): Our business in India is mandated to deliver unique and differentiated experiences to consumers, and this is accomplished by our partnership with licensees here. I would like to highlight that our key licensing characters here include Tom and Jerry, Superman, Batman, Looney Tunes, Tweety, and Scooby Doo. We have worked with several leading brands including Hindustan Unilever and Glaxo Smithkline, for licensing and allied activities. In addition, we also have a partnership with Gowardhan India for a range of cheese with Tom and Jerry. Apart from that, we also work with other companies for licensing and allied activities for jams, biscuits and breakfast cereals, amongst others. I would also like to point out that we have also recently developed the ‘Kids’ WB’ concept. Retailer: Which are your most successful licensing categories in India? PL: In India, in tune with other markets overseas, apparel and back to school, along with publishing are categories that are showing strong sales momentum. Apart from that, infant-related apparel is also doing well. We are also keen to expand our licensing presence in real estate and branded live ticket shows. In the bed and bath category, Creative Portico has helped us build a market leadership position. Retailer: Your outlook for the licensing industry in India? PL: The licensing market has so far been dominated by character-based merchandising and targeted mainly at children. We have also seen the emergence of India-based licensing properties including Chhota Bheem, Bollywood-based characters, and sports licensing via IPL. In addition, the demand for licensed merchandise of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman has been strong. However, the biggest weakness of the licensing industry here is the large dependence on imports, and the recent fall in the local currency has hit the operating margins of licensees, as well as curbed demand from consumers.
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