Since Licensing Expo, Vimwood has continued to push ahead striving for market leadership in the fashion accessory category. From our earlier conversations we have learnt of their passion for process, quality and innovation, which has stood them in good stead to lead the market. Along with their diverse licensed portfolio including Disney, Warner Bros., Shopkins, Turtles and Trolls, the recent LIMA Global Licensing Survey has the fashion accessory category sitting at number three and growing. It has an 11% market share with only toys and apparel ahead. Vimwood are clearly focused on expansion and we were able to spend some time with Kirrin Tilbrook prior to her making the trip to Brand Licensing Europe in October.
Kirrin, from our earlier conversations Vimwood are looking to grow into other markets. What plans do you have for the UK and European markets?
We used to supply our accessories to Next and Claire’s in the UK direct out of China and we believe there is still a gap in the European market for the quality of product we offer. Last time we did this, we handled it all from Australia however we would be looking at having someone on the ground in the UK and Europe now to ensure we capitalize on opportunities and are able to meet the retailer’s service expectations.
Given that you will be in front of many of the largest brand owners at Brand Licensing Europe, what will be your three most important priorities?
Retail distribution opportunities for this market – we offer a high quality product, excellent service at a competitive price. I believe we have a compelling offer in a category that is being under valued. The potential for incremental growth in accessories, particularly children’s accessories, is huge.
As the retail landscape continues to evolve and change on a daily basis, where do you see the opportunities for a business such as yours?
We are still very much a bricks and mortar focused category so rely heavily on our retail partners to be creating an environment that attracts foot traffic into their stores. Our consignment model offers an alternative to retailers to allow us to manage this category for them. We have proven that we are more than capable of generating growth if retailers are willing to give us the space to try!
Wonder Women is the first super hero movie with a female lead character. How has your Wonder Woman product performed since the movie launch?
It has been great actually! The collection we put together was designed entirely by our team including the packaging styling etc and it was a great success. Warner Bros. were very accommodating in this aspect and it paid off!
The fashion accessory market is one of the growth categories and Vimwood have an extensive range on offer. What would you say to potential international retailers who work in this field?
Get in touch! In the international markets there is more that could be done in this space and as you say, it is a growth category.
We work closely with our retail partners and our end goal is to deliver them with agreed sales and profit results by taking away the pain of a category such as accessories. It is all we do – and when all you do is accessories, you get very good at it!
Kirrin, when we last spoke you were launching your new sunglasses ranges, how have these performed for you at retail?
Great! We have just launched product into market in September including some new accounts for us which is great. It is certainly a category that we believe has more potential and will be a key focus for us in the next 12-months and beyond.
What’s your view on TJ Maxx entering Australia?
I visited the store at Top Ryde recently and wasn’t particularly concerned. Competition is healthy! There hasn’t been much noise about them as far as feedback from customers or retailers at this stage.
How do you see the mass-market segment panning out over the next 12-months?
Hard to say – I feel that there is not enough differentiation in the mass space in Australia to support the number of mass retailers we currently have. I don’t believe consumers are particularly loyal to a retail brand anymore – they are looking for product that either fills a need, is on trend, and at a price that represents good value and I am not sure all our mass retailers can all deliver that well enough to maintain consumer traffic. At the moment it seems that Kmart is setting the standard and direction for retailing in the mass market space, and I’m not sure our market can support this across multiple mass merchants.
How important is the seasonal business for Vimwood and what is your premier event driver?
Christmas and Back-to-School are the key event drivers for our business. We do seasonal specific ranges and our busiest period is from October to end February in Australia – October coming into Christmas and then January/February for Back-to-School. Over 50% of our total annual business is generated in these five months with specific seasonal ranging. We are very proud of both our Christmas accessories range offer and our Back-to-School accessories and believe there to be extensive opportunities in these categories internationally as well. Though we still believe there to be more opportunities domestically as well!
Kirrin, we look forward to meeting up with you at Brand Licensing Europe in London this October. It is exciting to see a company like Vimwood looking abroad. The opportunities are many and we can see Vimwood well and truly on the international stage.