Kelkay’s highly successful licensing arrangement with the Royal Horticultural Society over the past two seasons on the company’s range of horticultural grits and gravels (which is being extended for 2018) has prompted both parties to explore other opportunities. As a result result, that Kelkay have announcing the introduction of a new range of wildlife themed stepping stones for 2018. We asked Kelkay’s MD, Antony Harker (left), to tell us more.
How successful has the RHS Gardeners range been?
We’ve established the range across more than 500 garden centres so it’s been a phenomenal success for us. RHS-branded grits and sand are appearing in growing media top sellers lists, so we know it is selling through well.
And what’s the new licensing agreement all about?
Stepping stones have been another great success story, but it’s a competitive market and we wanted to create something unique and distinctive to help our centres maintain sales and margin in this category. The new Endangered Species Stepping Stones (Bee, Dragonfly, Hedgehog, and Owl) will be launched with RHS branding for 2018.
Where did the idea come from?
The RHS already have an ongoing joint campaign with The Wildlife Trusts called ‘Wild about Gardens’. Its aim is to enhance the understanding of wildlife and celebrate the way gardeners are able to create havens for wildlife in their own patch. So when we approached them with our idea for endangered species designs for our new stepping stones, they were delighted.
What’s the financial arrangement?
For those products on which we employ the RHS brand endorsement – currently the horticultural grits and sand, and now the wildlife themed stepping stones – we pay a license fee directly to RHS. The precise nature of the agreement is subject to our confidentiality arrangements with RHS, but it is not dependent upon our sales, we make the full donation regardless of our own revenues from the products.
How long do you expect the licensing agreement to last?
We hope that we will continue to make a success of the products and that RHS will want to continue to work with us well into the future. There is no planned end date on the agreement at the moment.
So, is the license fee for the stepping stones going directly to help the endangered species?
We don’t put any conditions on payments we make to RHS, so the precise destination of the money is totally in their control. Of course, RHS work extremely hard to promote wildlife-friendly gardening through their events and online, so we know we are helping to fund those activities through the license. You can find out about their campaign by clicking here
How many RHS Wildlife stepping stones are you hoping to sell next year?
We were very pleased to get listings for the RHS gardeners range in over 500 centres, so if we could achieve similar penetration with the new range, we would be very pleased. Exactly how many depends on so many factors, but as we’ve explained, RHS will receive their license fee even if the weather is atrocious and the season’s a washout! It’s the kind of risk we are happy to take, knowing that the fee is going to support a good cause.
How are the products made? In the UK or overseas?
We have developed these designs ourselves here in the UK and they’re cast from concrete in our factory in Pollington, East Yorkshire.
Can you see further opportunities for RHS licensed product in the future?
We want to make sure we give the current ranges the best possible chance to create the desired impact first. But we are definitely not ruling out more developments in the future.
Do you think brand licensing is a force for good and will become even more important in the future?
There has definitely been an increase in this trend in gardening in the past couple of years. It’s hard to create and establish really strong consumer brands, so the licensing in of appropriate third party brands is a good option. The key is to choose the right brands with the most compelling and engaging values that appeal to our garden centre customers. For us, RHS fits our objectives and aspirations for the business and our quality range of products.
Are you talking to anyone else about licensing in other brands for your products?
No, we are focusing on the work we’re doing with RHS at the moment.