Retail Interview – Iceland Foods

It has been a while, but we are back with a bang and so excited to kick off with a retailer interview. This month Hannah Redler, Director of Retail and Co-Founder of our sister agency Spotlight.1888 is here chatting to Oliver Gilding, Trading Manager at Iceland Foods.

Hannah – To kick us off with a big question … We would love to know what your favorite brand of all time is?

Oliver – I am massively into fashion and contemporary art, I have been fascinated following the increased number of collaborations of both over the course of the last 5 years some of which you would have never expected… Burberry X Gosha, Omega X Swatch, Damien Hirst x Alexander McQueen and Supreme X Louis Vuitton to name just a few. The disruptive nature of those partnerships took each sector by storm and brought together two contrasting customers. All that being said my favorite brand of all time has to be the largest football club in the world Liverpool FC.

Hannah – Which licensed brands do you see as most innovative and exciting for 2023?

Oliver –  Tough question, I strongly believe there is a huge amount of incredible brands that are yet to venture into licensing and reach their full potential,  with the right partner there are significant opportunities to cause disruption, which to me is very exciting.   During 2023, following the recent Crypto Punks IP rights agreement there will be an open door for endless creativity and possibilities for Crypto Punks which in-tern will lead to numerous other NFT projects moving from solely digital to more accessible physical products something I will be keeping a keen eye on.

Hannah: Which category of licensed product do you see the most innovation happening this year?

Oliver – In terms of what I have the greatest exposure to on a daily basis, I would identify their to be a huge amount of innovation within food.. often we try to align brands with products that to our customers make complete sense without it being a challenge to understand. Some examples of this would include our Cathedral City Cheesy Mac + Cheese, TGI Sesame Chicken, Giant Mars Bar and Harry Ramsdens Jumbo Cod all of which are fairly self-explanatory and are consistent weekly shopped items as leave the customer incredibly satisfied. That being said we also like to stretch the boundaries with products including our Heinz Beanz filled hashbrown, TGI Cheeseburger Spring roll and Harry Ramsdens Battered Sausages ultimately it is about having a balance and fun within the offering available in store.

Hannah: what do you feel have been your ‘big wins’ this year brand wise?

Oliver – During the course of this year we have been able to solidify Iceland position within the licensing industry as the home of Exclusive Brands.  We have launched 100s of new products, extended existing ranges and announced new partnerships including but not limited to Cathedral City, Heinz, Mars Wrigley, My Protein and Chiquito’s all of which offer our customers incredible value and quality products that cannot be found anywhere else.

Hannah: The licensing industry is always changing and evolving at the brands being launched, and the opportunities available to present to retailers. How do you feel the industry is performing at offering retailers a point of difference?

Oliver – I can only speak from my personal experience, we have a very clear strategy which has enabled us to adapt and move quickly with trends in the market. I think it is clear to see when brands have rushed launches and tried to grow into a wide range of categories too quickly or with the incorrect partner. Both of which can be detrimental to the brands customer perception. A point of difference is important but only when it is solving or filling a gap which is needed and wanted by the consumer, if not a huge amount of time and effort can be wasted for little reward.

Hannah: In this ‘post pandemic’ retail environment, how valuable do you think it is for retailers to be offering a true instore experience when it comes to brands, and what do you think customer expects from brands?  

Oliver – It is incredibly important to give customers choice, value and a reason to shop with you on a weekly basis. That
does not just mean launching something exciting and new once a year. It is vital that ranges are refreshed numerous times a year in order to entice new but also as a tool to retain customers. A recent initiative by Iceland ‘Famous 3 for £10’ has for the first time allowed customers to pick and mix from a wide range of products cross category offering incredible choice but also value
something which more than ever is important to our customers.

Hannah: Spotlight 1888’s company DNA is through aretail first approach. How important do you feel it is for the industry to come
to buyers first, to ensure you are consulted in the process in building a licensed brand from scratch?

Oliver – We often have reached out to brands of interest who initially have had no interest in exploring licensing this can
often be driven by a multitude of reasons. There is nothing more satisfying than selling in the opportunity, sharing case study examples of what success could look like and then delivering the brand huge success. My belief is that licensing is a tool which should be used by all brands in order to increase brand awareness, especially effective when partnering with experts in their particular field. When done properly licensing is a powerful tool especially in the age of social media whereby anything new, interesting and exciting can be shared instantly and be seen by 1000s of people in a matter of minutes.   

Huge thank you to Oliver from Iceland Foods, head over to LinkedIn to connect with him or Hannah from our Spotlight Team to find out what we’ve been up to.

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