LONDON -- Bandai Namco reports that it has established an international prize merchandise division. It is headquartered London, and is led by industry veteran Alan Smith.
Backed by a multimillion-dollar (US) investment by Bandai Namco, the new enterprise is said to have gotten off to a fast start. It has secured exclusive EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) leisure licenses for such iconic brands as Ben 10, Shaun the Sheep and Timmy Time -- in many cases, bidding against well-established companies for those properties.
Smith, who comes to Bandai Namco from Sega Prize Europe, was responsible for launching the Sega Kids Division with Dinosaur King and the Hello Kitty prize lines. He reports to Namco Europe managing director John McKenzie.
"We will be bringing a fresh and vibrant approach to a sector which at times has looked slightly jaded," Smith explained. "Our strategy is to secure the top brands such as Ben 10, which has been the No. 1 boy's toy in both the UK and the United States for the last three years, on exclusive licenses starting with Europe.
"In terms of values, our commitment is to deliver quality products at competitive price-points in order to enhance revenue generation for our customers," the new division head emphasized.
He added that relatively few organizations involved in prize merchandise sales have the resources, or the desire, to become global forces. "It is our aim to fill that space at a time when licensing companies are themselves seeking to secure global agreements with respected distributors who will protect and not exploit their brands."
With a number of license agreements pending, Smith has acted to secure manufacturing capacity in factories with ICTI (International Council of Toy Industries) status. He now is in the process of negotiating for experienced distributors in specific regions of Europe.