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Licensing show offers textiles opportunity

NEW YORK — New business opportunities for home textiles manufacturers will abound at the 21st annual Licensing 2001 international trade show from June 12 to 14 at the Jacob Javits Convention Center here.

The more than 300 exhibitors, with more than 4,000 license properties, will look for prospective licensees to manufacture consumer products, and home textiles are expected to garner much attention.

"Home is very important to us; it's a category that has grown considerably over the last five years and it's a key consideration for us with our licenses," said Dave Rupert, Warner Bros. Consumer Products vp, U.S. licensing. "There was a time when toys and apparel were enough. But home has become a key role in anchoring a property. It's plan-o-gram business. Also, it's nice product that really shows off your characters at retail. We are always open to home textile manufacturers and their ideas."

Likewise for Mattel's consumer products division, which uses the Licensing show as an opportunity to meet possible new licensees for home goods for its Barbie property.

"Barbie Consumer Products is always looking for ways to grow our business and capitalize on new trends," said Lisa McKnight, director of marketing for the Mattel division. "We welcome new licensees that can round out our product offering, particularly in niche areas where we're not yet maximized."

Warner Bros. will have a strong presence at the Licensing show with licensing opportunities for five of its major properties — Harry Potter, Scooby-Doo, Powerpuff Girls, Batman and Looney Tunes.

The following manufacturers produce home products for these Warner Bros. Licenses: Terrisol Corp./Karsten, beach towels; Springs Industries, bedding and bathroom accessories; Charles D. Owen, blankets; Mohawk Home, decorative pillows and throws; Franco Manufacturing Co., plush pillows, sand chairs, beach chairs, jersey and flannel knit sheets, pillows and bath towels; and Dan River, bedding, sheets and comforters.

"The only categories we are looking to get into are kitchen textiles and table linens," Rupert said. "We've spoken to several companies and not found anyone yet, but we are open to all five properties for these categories. A stores' basic home textile assortment normally includes rugs, bedding, bath, pillows and throws. But kitchen and table are the next logical categories."

Sony Pictures Family Entertainment will launch a new animated series called "Harold and the Purple Crayon," in January 2002 on HBO Family Network. For this new property, based on the children's book by Crockett Johnson, Sony has several consumer product categories available, including domestics and linens, gifts and novelties, home furnishings/ furniture and housewares.

Hasbro said it will be using "aggressive licensing and promotion" strategies to expand its core properties — Tonka, Mr. Potato Head, Monopoly and Action Man — into new consumer product categories. Already, Dan River manufactures bedding for Tonka, and Jay Franco & Sons makes beach towels for Hasbro games.

"The Hasbro consumer group is looking to expand its existing efforts as well as launch new initiatives, including the 50th anniversary of Mr. Potato Head, the company's game portfolio and [Hasbro division] Tiger Electronics' Robo-Chi family of Interactive pets" at the Licensing show, a company-issued press release stated.

Mattel's roster of home textile licensees will also introduce new lines for spring 2002, with some introductions at the Licensing show. The licensees include Franco Manufacturing Co. for novelty plush pillows in various shapes as well as jersey and flannel sheet sets packaged in a reusable backpack; Dan River Inc. for bedding lines, including the new Barbie's Rehearsal and Steppin' Out collections; and the Northwest Company for woven throw blankets that coordinate with all Barbie bedding patterns.

"Barbie Home Furnishings is yet another example of how Barbie goes beyond the doll to be a true lifestyle brand," McKnight said. "Girls spend much of their days in their bedrooms, and Barbie Home Furnishings allows girls to both play and live in Barbie's world with fun, stylish and high-quality furnishings."

Topping the Twentieth Century Fox list is the announcement of a major licensing and merchandising program spanning all categories for the studio's feature film "Ice Age." Slated for release in 2002, "Ice Age" is an animated feature that has as its main characters an acerbic woolly mammoth, an anti-social giant sloth, and a scheming saber-toothed tiger. Ice Age is open to a full line of products, including domestics.

For Twentieth Century Fox's sci-fi summer movie "Planet of the Apes," being released in theaters July 27, Beltex N.V. (Benelux) will create bedding, sleeping bags, curtains, towels, scarves and bath robes.

Twentieth Century Fox Television's "The Simpsons," first introduced in 1990, continues to be one of the most popular properties on the market. Mohawk Home is producing decorative Afghans and tapestry pillows, while Rix Products is manufacturing housewares including wastebaskets, playing cards, coasters and boxes.

HIT Entertainment, which owns "Barney" creators Lyrick Studios, will be looking for new licensees to produce an array of home textile products for three of its major children's properties — Barney, Kipper and Bob the Builder. The biggest push is for the first two. Franco Manufacturing Co. already produces Barney bedding, bath and beach towels. But HIT Entertainment is also looking to expand its domestics category to include throws, snuggle pillows, slumber bags, table linens, rugs, furniture and lighting. For Kipper, Jay Franco & Sons produces bath and beach towels. But HIT also wants someone to manufacture bedding, throws, snuggle pillows, rugs and lighting for the property.

Bob The Builder, the property with the most complete line of home textiles, will introduce its new line of Dan River bedding, bath and beach towels collections, while Mohawk Home will make throws, door mats and rugs for the first time at the Licensing 2001 show.

"Home furnishings and textiles are what sustain a property on the store shelves," said Marlene Cuesta, director of merchandising for Lyrick Studios.

For the first time in the nine-year history of the Power Rangers children's property, Saban/Fox Family will introduce a complete home collection program.

"We've made a commitment to grow this area," said Tricia Samuels, licensing manager of home furnishings for Saban/Fox Family. "'Power Rangers' continues to grow in popularity; we're gearing up for its 10th anniversary in 2002, and it's now become more of a brand in consumers' eyes."

For the Power Ranger property, Baby Boom manufactures the character-shaped snuggle pillows and Franco Manufacturing Co. produces all bedding, bath and beach towels.

For Saban/Fox Family's Digimon property, licensees will introduce new product in various home textile categories: bedding by Dan River, throws by Biederlack, and room decor items including snuggle pillows by Jay Franco & Sons.

In the athletic department, the National Football League will introduce new patterns for its bedding line by Dan River this fall. The new line, By the Numbers, will include comforters, sheet sets, bed skirts, pillowcases and shams, soft window treatments, decorative pillows and blankets. The Northwest Company, another existing licensee of the NFL, manufactures throw blankets.

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