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An interview with… Morrisons

Lucy Wilson, buying manager for tableware, party products and greetings at Morrisons, shares some insight into the grocer’s party offering, ahead of her involvement as a delegate in Brand Licensing Europe’s 2021 Retail Mentoring Programme.

BLE takes place from 17-19 November at ExCel London. Register to attend the event here.


Tell us about your role at Morrisons

“I am currently the buying manager on tableware, all party products including balloons. I also look after greetings cards and wrapping paper.”


What are your biggest sellers in your party, gifts and wrap range at Morrisons?

“We have three range resets throughout the year on our core range, as we want to make sure there is regular newness for our customers, and then we have our seasonal range. In our kids’ core range we are seeing unicorn and dino as our evergreens, and LOL, Disney Princess, Spiderman and Paw Patrol are all big sellers. We also have our metallics range; gold, silver and rose gold. We have many different lines within there that are performing really well. We also have seen a good response to Halloween and early launch Christmas.

“Party is an exciting category to be involved in currently as balloons are really popular in the market and in people’s homes. There are the big events companies that are creating displays using balloon arches, flower walls and donut walls, we have introduced affordable balloon arch kits in many different colour ways that our customers love.”


What do you expect to fly off the shelves at Christmas?

“We have some 5ft air filled balloons for Christmas, a nutcracker, snowman and a Christmas tree and we are already seeing early signs that they are going to fly out.

“Wrapping paper and gift presentation are over performing more than the cards at the minute. Because people are seeing friends and family in-person again, rather than posting presents, there is more of a focus on how gifts look.”


When you joined the Retail Mentoring Programme, how much did you already know about licensing?

“I only really dealt with licensing products in health and beauty. I worked with quite a few big brands on collaborations and on licensing in gifting particularly and in bath care. I didn’t really get involved massively within those businesses, it was just them coming to me, proposing these licences that they know work out of a huge portfolio and we take the supplier’s lead on that, but now I know there is way more to it than that.”


Any nuggets you’ve learned so far that you’d like to share?

“Because all my products are Far East supplied our critical path and lead time is quite long. I feel like starting this programme has come at a really good time as we have a lot of exciting things coming up next year in terms of what licenses we are seeing come through. We have already kicked off some collaborations around what licences to go after next year and I think what has massively helped, across the Morrisons business in particular, is that all the buyers that are included in licensed products have all come together and you don’t realise how big an opportunity it can be until you actually understand how the licenses work, not only with the product suppliers, but also the licensors that own it. It has totally opened my eyes to how big an opportunity it is and how much goes into it.”


How will what you’re learning impact Morrisons licensing programme?

“We need to get all of our heads together to understand what are the big licences that we are going after in all our different areas and how do we then pull that together instore to execute it in a way our customers know we’ve got confidence in those products.

“So, if we have five different product areas that are all backing this licence, if we merchandise all the products together that is going to encourage our customers to pick up more than one and what we want to do is fill their baskets and make sure they’re confident in every single product format in that licence, which will drive sales for us.”


Why are you looking forward to attending BLE in November?

“Other than the networking side, it will be amazing to talk to other buyers in the industry and to widen that network and also to understand what is going on in the wider market. We are very focused in what happens just within the grocers and have tunnel vision almost so we are looking forward to understanding how other business work with licences and what works for them and just getting an insight into whether there’s anything we have missed as a massive opportunity that we can look at next year and the year after.”

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