DALLAS — Speedo USA views licensing as a new road to expansion.

Until last year, licensing was not part of the company’s game plan. Now it’s planning to expand sales with outside licensing partners and is considering sublicensees for beauty products such as lip glosses, sunscreens and shampoos, along with beach accessories such as umbrellas, chairs and coolers, said Roger Williams, president of Authentic Fitness Corporation, a division of Warnaco, which operates Speedo USA.

Last year marked the first time Speedo USA, the North American division and licensee of London-based Speedo International, had ever sublicensed the Speedo name. That was when it signed a deal with Riviera, a New York-based company, to produce sunglasses for women, men and children. The line was introduced in July 2002 and is now sold in about 1,000 stores, such as Kohl’s and The Sports Authority. Wholesale prices are $5 for children’s sunglasses to $17.50 for adults’.

Speedo USA makes a wide range of products in-house, from swimwear, footwear and accessories to underwater cameras and snorkels. The company also makes other summer necessities like watches and towels.

“We have a great in-house design team that’s been in place a number of years. In fact, for many years, it was the fastest-growing part of the company. But we’ve realized that there are people outside of our company whose expertise in certain categories exceeds ours and we’re looking to that expertise to continue growing the brand,” said Craig Brommers, vice president of marketing at Speedo USA.

“Our in-house design team remains in place and is strong, but we’re looking for expertise in a variety of product categories, such as some of the cosmetic-beauty areas. Sometimes we find the expertise in-house and other times it’s outside, and going forward, that’s when we might go with a sublicensing partner.”

After signing the deal with Riviera and realizing the potential of other deals, Speedo USA set up a separate division to handle licensing, Williams said.

“We’re looking for partners who can be a worldwide partner for Speedo. The most important factor is not the revenue but how it will support our brand image. Speedo brand image starts with our parentage of being a competitive swim brand,” Williams said. “We’re currently in the process of evaluating potential partners, but we probably will not sign a new licensee until the end of this year.”Speedo USA’s target demographic focuses on a variety of age ranges.

“Our target customer is the whole family — from the cradle to the grave. It depends on the product category, but we are a family brand, from kid’s swimwear to aqua socks for seniors,” said Brommers.

Next year, Speedo plans to debut a marketing and advertising campaign that includes national print and TV ads. The brand’s sunglasses will be among the products featured.

“Starting last year, we rolled out more of a national approach with our marketing efforts,” said Williams. “We’ve always had a very strong grassroots program. We sponsor in excess of 50 swim coaches and over 50 athletes. We also sponsor swim clinics and learn-to-swim programs that’s helped more than 10,000 children.”

The company is counting on those alliances to help bolster its licensing business.

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