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Licensing News - January 2006

Elvis Is Fabric of New Licensing Initiatives

V.I.P. by Cranston launched a new fabric collection called "Elvis Lives" in partnership with Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

Inspired by Presley, the line is a faithful translation of a mix of photo realistic and graphic images on graphic-patch backgrounds offered in both bright and muted colorways. The new collection debuts this month at fabric stores and fabric departments and is suitable for apparel, crafting, and home decor.

Enesco Group, Inc. and Jim Shore Renew Relationship-Alliance Ends Litigation

Enesco Group, Inc. a leader in the giftware, and home and garden decor industries, and Jim Shore Designs, Inc. are proud to announce that the Company and designer Jim Shore are embarking on a renewed relationship, following a six-month legal dispute regarding the licensing of Jim Shore products. Enesco and Jim Shore Designs entered into a settlement agreement to dismiss with prejudice their claims against each other.

"I could not be more pleased to renew my partnership with the Company that has helped me bring my artwork to millions of Americans and that is whole-heartedly devoted to my designs and the Jim Shore brand," said Jim Shore. "Ultimately, Enesco is the Company I want to produce my work. Enesco not only does a good job of protecting its products, lines and brands, but also is dedicated to the task of becoming the industry's best at serving its customers."

"Everyone at Enesco - our employees, our sales force, the management team and the Board of Directors - is thrilled to have a strengthened relationship with Jim Shore," added Cynthia Passmore, president and CEO of Enesco. "The strategic alliance is consistent with Enesco's decision to focus on four core gift categories and core channels. I'm happy we now can put past misunderstandings behind us and move forward with growing the Jim Shore line during the coming years. We are very happy to have Jim as part of the Enesco family and look forward to many more years together."

During the month of January 2006, Enesco launched approximately 60 new products designed by Jim Shore at its showrooms across the country.

'Fergie' to launch Moissanite Jewelry Line

Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson, known by many as "Fergie," has agreed to design a jewelry collection featuring moissanite created by Charles & Colvard. K & G Creations, the manufacturer of Charles & Colvard and the world's largest manufacturer of moissanite, announced the deal last week.

Debuting in the second quarter of 2006, the vintage-inspired "Sarah Ferguson for K&G Creations" collection will include rings, necklaces, earrings and bracelets. In addition to working with K&G creations in designing the line, Ferguson will serve as a spokeswoman for the collection and make in-store appearances to help promote it. The collection will sell exclusively at Finlay Fine Jewelry departments at stores such as Macy's, Lord & Taylor and Bielk's. Net proceeds from the enterprise will go to the Sarah Ferguson Foundation for Children.

Cell Phones Targeting Tweens

The Bratz brand of dolls and accessories produced by MGA Entertainment is huge with the younger set of girls. The Bratz Mobile phone, available at Walmart, comes complete with exclusive wallpapers, voice ring tones, screen savers, and skins clad with the brand for young girls to express their personality through customization. All their favorite characters are here, including Jade, Cloe, Yasmin, Sasha, and Roxxi.

The phone, a re-badged Sony Ericsson T290, is designed with ease of use and full functionality. No contracts, easy to understand rate plans, voice mail, caller ID, text messaging, internet browsing are among its features. Price has been set at $69.99 including 50 minutes of nationwide airtime.

BabyGund Nursery Debuts

1/25/06 - Gift manufacturer Gund has expanded its successful babyGund brand into the nursery, with a new line of decor products for infants and toddlers. "For 107 years, Gund has marketed a full range of quality plush items. We are now extending ourselves beyond plush products to bring our customers a nursery decor line that will undoubtedly cement our position in the giftware industry," said Jim Madonna, president of Gund.

The first babyGund collection is Bear Tales, which is available in pale shades of pink, blue and yellow, is shipping now and will be shown at the winter gift markets this month. Additional collections are planned. The Bear Tales line includes plush bears, mobiles, wash mitts, hooded towels, growth charts, blankets, pillows, a pajama bag, backpack and a message pillow embroidered with "ShhhÉbaby is sleeping" to hang on a doorknob.

The collection also includes non-plush items, including ceramic banks that can be personalized, ceramic or porcelain picture frames and a porcelain night light and bookends. Porcelain picture frames that say "It's a Girl" or "It's a Boy" are available in either 2.5-by-3-inch or 4-by-6-inch sizes. Blankets are embroidered with the words "My Little Blankie" and mobiles are available in either flower, double-tiered cloud or star motifs in pink, blue or cream that play "Hush Little Baby."

Retail price points range from $12 for a wash mitt to $15 for a photo frame to $50 for the mobile.

Russ Berrie and Company, Inc. Announces Warehouse Consolidation

1/19/06 - Russ Berrie and Company, Inc. announced, in connection with its previously disclosed restructuring plan, the closure of its Petaluma, CA distribution center effective June 30, 2006. The closure will result in the elimination of approximately 40 positions and will result in a pre-tax restructuring charge of approximately $1.6 million to be recognized during the first half of 2006. The Company anticipates annualized savings of approximately $1.6 million as a result of this action.

President and CEO Andy Gatto commented, "In accordance with our initiatives to align our expense structure with current business levels and at the same time service the needs of our customers in a more streamlined and efficient manner, we are consolidating our domestic gift warehousing and distribution into a single existing facility. This represents another significant step in implementing our restructuring plan."

Barbara Barry Brings Her Everyday Elegance To Wedgwood

1/18/06 - Wedgwood is excited to be working with internationally known designer Barbara Barry on her new collection of fine dinnerware, crystal and decorative accessories. Barbara Barry's signature style is elegant and timeless as well as accessible, and with Wedgwood's 250-year heritage of quality, this new collection brings a graceful elegance to everyday living.

The Barbara Barry for Wedgwood Collection is planned for release into the US market in the fall of 2006 and will be sold at selected retail stores across the country. The initial collection will encompass five patterns produced in bone china for fine dining and everyday use. An assortment of full lead crystal stemware, decorative silver items, and a range of giftware will also be available. In advance of the launch, Wedgwood has produced a tea set, "Musical Chairs", featuring Barbara's unique furniture icons. "Musical Chairs" will be for sale January 2006 in a limited number of fine department stores, premium specialty stores and designer showrooms. For additional information about the Barbara Barry for Wedgwood Collection call 1-800-677-7035.

Dangermouse 25th Anniversary

1/15/06 - FremantleMedia Licensing Worldwide is revamping the nostalgia kids brand, Dangermouse, in preparation for its 25th anniversary this year. As part of the anniversary celebration, FLW developed a new logo, and creative and signed on new partners including TDP Textiles for men's nightwear and underwear; Bravado International for T-shirts and fashion tops for record retailers; and Samuel Eden for adult's and children's socks. FLW renewed its agreement with The Big Badge Co. to produce Dangermouse pin badges, which will be distributed at retail and through banks and corporate offices to raise money for the charitable brain injury association, Headway, throughout 2006.

FLW will extend the brand into women's apparel, plush, collectibles, gifts, gadgets, and fine arts, and is reviewing the use of original cell animation from Brian Cosgrove, the creator of Dangermouse.

Quilting Event to Benefit Breast Cancer Research

1/15/06 - The KN Karen Neuburger lifestyle brand and Quilting Treasures by Cranston are sponsoring a quilt block event to raise money for The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Individuals are invited to submit quilt blocks directly to Cranston between January 1 and May 1, 2006. The finished blocks will be 10 inches square and can be either pieced or appliqued, using fabrics from Quilting Treasures KN Pink Ribbon Signature Collection, which now is available at independent quilt shops across the country.

All submitted blocks will be made into quilts of hope and comfort, with the help of quilt guilds and community groups, and used to raise money for The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Contest details and submission forms can be found at . A portion of proceeds from each yard sold also will benefit BCRF year-round with KN Karen Neuburger guaranteeing a minimum donation of $75,000.

Wedgwood in Licensing Deal With American Folk Art Museum

1/13/06 - Wedgwood has signed a licensing agreement with the American Folk Art Museum for a line of holiday ornaments. Wedgwood unveiled the collection at the International Gift & Home Furnishings Market for the 2006 holiday season.

The line is inspired by four well-known art pieces in the museum: "Girl in Red Dress", "Peaceable Kingdom, "Bird of Paradise" quilt, and "Fame Weathervane," which features an angel, a symbol in the museum's logo. The assortment includes mercury glass, paper, wood and fabric ornaments, and will come with a tag explaining that a portion of the proceeds will go to the museum, as well as a brass hang tag with the museum's logo. Retail prices range from $8 to $65.

Stewart's Omnimedia to Launch New Magazine

1/12/06 - Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia plans to launch in May a two-issue test of a new lifestyle magazine for women ages 25 to 45. The magazine, to be called Blueprint: Design Your Life, is targeted toward modern, multitasking women. It will help them decide how to decorate, dress, entertain and organize their lives. Under the direction of MSLO's development editor Tom Prince, the first issue will be available on newsstands with an initial rate base of 250,000. The second issue is slated for August. MSLO plans on publishing six issues of Blueprint in 2007.

Two's Company Debuting Amanda Depew Lline

1/12/06 - Giftware manufacturer Two's Company has signed a licensing agreement with noted wallpaper and fabric designer Amanda Depew to produce a line of personal bath and boudoir products inspired by her designs. Depew is known for her romantic but contemporary styling. The new line comprises 18 SKUs and is available immediately.

The new Dangerous Liaisons personal care collection by Two's Company features soft colors, fine ingredients and sophisticated design - all targeted at upscale specialty and department stores. The collection includes soap sets, air mists, soap and lotion sets, candles, hand towels, jewelry cases and hatboxes. Retail prices for the pieces range from $7.50 to $49. "Amanda's look stands out as something special and unique in today's crowded personal care market," said Tom Gottlieb, president of Two's Company.

Depew began her career as a designer at Brunschwig & Fils, Scalamandre and Cowtan & Tout. Depew went out on her own with her collection of handmade decorative boxes that sells in upscale specialty and department stores. "I am thrilled about my relationship with Two's Company, and it is the exciting start to extending my product mix," she said.

Waverly signs licensing deal with Ellery

1/12/06 - Waverly has signed a long-term licensing agreement with Ellery Home Brands Co., an affiliate of Ellery Homestyles, to manufacture Waverly branded home fashions products including bedding, window treatments and other home categories.

Ellery will utilize the design archives of Waverly, a division of F. Schumacher & Co. Until now, Waverly has produced the home fashions products through its own facilities and outside suppliers. The home fashions business now will be converted to a licensing model with Ellery using its expertise in sourcing and execution to further increase the multi-channel distribution of the business, the companies said in a statement.

The agreement, which runs in excess of 10 years, according to Gerald Puschel, president of Schumacher, will allow Ellery to produce decorative pillows, decorative throws and slipcovers as well. Waverly has a roster of licensees that range from paints, patterns and publishing to other home products including Crown Crafts Infants bedding; kitchen and tabletop from Fallani & Cohn; trims from Bomar; Berme window hardware; Springs bath and bath accessories; Lexington furniture and Zrike for dinnerware and glassware.

Toys R Us Closings

1/12/06 - Toys-R-Us is shutting down 87 stores nationwide in the coming months. The company, which went private last year, is in the midst of re-organizing. So now, some of the old toy stores will be converted into Babies-R-Us, while other stores will be closed for good.

Pier 1 Does Modern Craftsmanship

1/12/06 - Pier 1 Imports, battling ongoing sales and earnings declines, reiterated plans to sharpen its modern mix and trade up its assortment with a look it has dubbed "modern craftsmanship."

"We have done enough market research to tell us that what we were selling before needed to change, and that's why we are going this way," said Cary Turner, chief financial officer of the specialty retailer. "It represents cleaner and more simple lines, a much more sophisticated color palette."

Beyond its lackluster financial performance, changing consumer tastes have also prompted the move, Turner said. Turner said the retailer's optimum sweet spot would be above Target and below merchants such as Crate & Barrel and Restoration Hardware. Pier 1 is also whittling down the mix to about 2,800 SKUs from 3,200 SKUs. And on the marketing front, the retailer is discontinuing circulars as it beefs up television, catalog and web advertising, Turner said. But expansion is being scaled back. For the current fiscal year that ends in February, the retailer will have opened 66 stores and closed 32. In the new fiscal year, the retailer will open 45 stores and close 15.

Kurt S. Adler, Inc. Joins Forces with Thomas Kinkade to Create Holiday Collection for 2006

1/10/06 - The Thomas Kinkade Holiday Collection will include a wide variety of ornaments and other decor showcasing Kinkade's more popular artworks. Kurt S. Adler, Inc., the world's leading resource and designer for holiday ornaments and decor, has signed a licensing deal to create ornaments featuring the works of Thomas Kinkade, one of America's most collected artists.

According to Richard Adler, Vice President of Kurt S. Adler, Inc., "Thomas Kinkade is one of the most popular painters of our time, and we are proud to create a collection featuring his classic designs. We anticipate that this new line will have a tremendous appeal to art enthusiasts and a broad range of consumers."

Kurt S. Adler, Inc.'s Thomas Kinkade Holiday Collection will include a wide variety of holiday ornament and other decor depicting some of his more popular artworks. The ornaments will be introduced to the industry at the winter 2006 wholesale gift, toy and holiday decor shows throughout the nation. The Thomas Kinkade brand is a multi-dimensional lifestyle brand, ranging from an image-based equity to a style-based brand. The brand brings forth the message of family, peace, home and tradition. The brand serves as a reminder of these values and inspires people to focus on the real, the authentic, and the meaningful.

Our Name Is Mud Appoints Representative Group

1/10/06 - Our Name Is Mud has named Ann McGilvray & Co. to represent the company in North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota. "Ann McGilvray is an icon of the gift business," said Kip Veasey, Our Name Is Mud co-founder. "We are proud to have her company selling our line."

Lenox announces $2.5 Million Expansions

1/04/06 - The Lenox Company will add 100 jobs and spend $2.5 million to expand its plant in Kinston, NC which will have the distinction of being the only Lenox manufacturing facility in the United States. Lenox Plant Manager Paul Leichtnam said the company hopes to start construction by early February. "We're thrilled about being able to expand," Leichtnam. "It's job security for all of us and it certainly adds to the overall well-being of the local economy." The company plans to hire 70 employees in 2006 and 30 more in 2007.

Lenox Incorporated was sold to Department 56 in July for $190 million. Department 56 is a designer, distributor, wholesaler and retailer of high-end collectibles and giftware.

Marian Heath Greeting Cards Acquires Renaissance Greeting Cards

1/04/06 - Marian Heath Greeting Cards announced the acquisition of the assets of Renaissance Greeting Cards Inc., a subsidiary of FTD Holdings Inc. The companies have more than 94 years combined industry experience, with a shared tradition of success selling to independent retailers and specialty chains. Renaissance customers will experience very little change, but will have access to new product. Key customer support functions will be retained in Sanford, Maine.

Douglas Co. Marks 50 Years

1/04/06 - Douglas Co. celebrates its 50th birthday in 2006. They are known in the gift and toy industry for their plush dogs, cats and horses with endearing expressions, gestures and softness. More recently, their line has expanded to feature fun and functional plush decor and accessory items. Douglas Co. was established in 1956 by Bill and Penny Clarke.

Artist Inks Deal with Kurt S. Adler

1/02/06 - Debbie Taylor-Kerman partnered with Kurt S. Adler to create an extensive new collection of Christmas decorations for holiday 2006. The Doodlers collection, which comprises more than 50 items including ornaments and holiday giftware, will be sold in fine department stores and specialty retailers across the country.

New Deal" in the Bag"

1/02/06 - Westcoast Contempo, the parent company of Kenzie, signed a deal with Rosetti Handbags and Accessories for a line of handbags. The collection will include 40 styles in key colors including licorice, hunter green, sienna, and coordinating prints. Fabrics will include canvas, updated synthetics, and velvets with delicate hardware. Products due on shelves in fall 2006.

Premier Gift Introducing Two New Lines and New Location

1/02/06 - Canada : Premier Gift will be marketing two new lines - Artland and Magnet Works - for 2006. Artland is a handmade glass line including stemware and decor items. "Artland is a terrific addition to Premier Gift," says Randy Cook, Premier Gift's president. "This gives us the ability to service the Canadian market to both the independents and national chains with different products for both. Artland is one of the leading glass manufacturers in the world and the pricing is excellent."

Magnet Works, a US-based product line, includes "MailWraps" and "Yard Designs". "The reaction in our showroom to the Magnet Works product line has been terrific," says Cook. "This is a brand new concept not seen before in Canada, and as we know, everyone is looking for something new and different." In addition, the company is moving to a new facility. The new address is 1055 Cardiff Blvd., Mississauga, ON, L5S 1P4. Phone and fax numbers will remain the same. For more information contact Premier Gift at 1-800-387-1282.

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