We last spoke to Kirrin Tilbrook (General Manager of Vimwood Australia) in March about her plans to increase Vimwood’s market share and presence at retail in Australia. We also focused on her desire for the company to become more visible in terms of retailer profile. Vimwood’s very unique model sees them specialising in accessorised concepts spanning hair, watches, seasonal, baby, travel, active and sunglasses. Vimwood are fortunate to be working with many of the biggest brands in the market including Disney, Warner Bros., DreamWorks and Shopkins, to name a few. We were able to catch Kirrin before Licensing Expo to learn some more about how they will develop their business over the coming year and beyond.
Kirrin, what came out of a busy Toy Hobby & Licensing Fair in Melbourne in March?
It was a great show! We had some very positive retailer meetings that we are busily working on ranging for now.
I notice with interest that you have a brand called “Wishes” in your portfolio; can you tell us a little about where this resonates for you?
Wishes is our own kids fashion accessories brand. Perfect pieces for every little girl. The brand is broken up into Wishes basics, Wishes fashion and Wishes baby and is designed based on key trends in apparel. We have a hair and jewellery range available with plenty of glitter and sparkles! The colour palette for SS17 is soft pinks and gold – but it varies by retailer. Our baby offer is gorgeous and right on trend – feel free to check them all out next time you are at any Big W, Target or Myer store!
As we all have seen, the distribution model has experienced some challenges in recent years. Given that Vimwood develop their own product, has this helped you to hit retail price points and engage a wider variety of retailers with your ranges?
Not really – we work really closely with our retail partners and price points are a constant struggle as the overall pricing model in retail has reduced significantly and accessories, as an Impulse category, needs to be careful not to make price points too high or they become a much more considered purchase. We work hard on getting value for the price points, and pride ourselves on maintaining the highest quality.
What will be your three main priorities for Licensing Expo this year?
For us, Licensing Expo is about seeing what is happening on the Global stage in licensing versus what the Australian market is responding to. It is interesting to see the rise of entertainment properties associated with Netflix for example – though how this is translated into consumer products is what we are interested in. So we will be looking out for what we believe to be the strong, commercial properties that will not only be easily translated to consumer products, but specifically to the accessories category.
What is your view on movie-based properties versus evergreen brands and how does this apply to your business?
They are both important – we rely on evergreen brands as the core of our offer but the movie based properties provide a much needed injection of excitement and provide us with incremental promotional opportunities. It can be a bit hit and miss depending on the movie – they don’t always translate into product sales, but we know that they help gain brand recognition. Frozen was probably the best performing movie based property we have had and is now an evergreen brand but I am very excited to hear the news of Frozen 2 movie release and expect to see a resurgence or interest in the brand, and then the products based on this.
There has been an enormous amount of commentary relating to Amazon arriving in Australia. Do you have an Amazon strategy?
No not as such. I am still very much a bricks and mortar shopper and whilst I am extremely impressed by Amazon, for me they remain a very clever and impressive online retailer. Will they have an impact? Of course. But I say embrace it – take what they are doing and see how you can use it to make your own offer better! Let’s chat again in a year from now and see if I need to eat my words.
You mentioned when we last spoke about your consignment model. How do this work and what types of retailer will this work well for?
The consignment model is the perfect model for any retailer who wants to get solid results for little effort. All we need is a commitment on space and we will deliver the results! For consignment to work properly though, we do require some technical capabilities but most retailers are capable of a consignment model, they are just skeptical about how it can work. The most common response I get when I talk about consignment is “what’s the catch?,” there isn’t one! It is not a common model but for a category as fiddly as accessories, it works.
Can you tell us a little about your seasonal programs?
Our two biggest seasonal programs are Christmas and Back-to-School. For us, the key months in our calendar are from start October through end February. Our Christmas program is designed for each of our retailers based on key, best selling profiles such as earrings, novelty alicebands and other novelty accessories. The sales of Christmas accessories never cease to amaze me! Our back to school hair accessories are also a key sales driver for us throughout January through February – simple, functional hair accessories in school colours. We have captured plenty of data now over the past years on what colours sell in what regions of Australia and can therefore ensure we are sending out the most wanted school colours by store location!
Kirrin, what is your very simple message to prospective retail partners in terms of partnering with Vimwood in the licensed accessory category?
If you have the space, we have the solution. We are flexible and easy to work with, and approach every partnership as a win/win. If it doesn’t work for you, it doesn’t work for us.
What can we expect from Vimwood in terms of innovation over the next 12-months?
We are always looking at what we can do to innovate within our category, though I would say we are not aiming to be leaders as far as innovation in accessories goes. We want to ensure our range offer provides stable, consistent sales results for our customers and provides beautifully designed, quality products for their consumers. Our innovation will come from the gaps we see in the market, and what we can come up with to fill that gap.
Thanks Kirrin, we look forward to seeing more accessory concepts from Vimwood in the market and to see you build more successful retail partnerships.