The BLE Blog

My BLE – 5 mins with Sainsbury’s John Carolan

john snall new (1)John Carolan is Head of Buying and Design – Menswear and Childrenswear at Sainsbury’s. We caught up with him about BLE, and why it is important for his business. 

John is a childrenswear clothing and licensing market expert with over 25 years in the industry. Starting his career at C&A UK, he has also worked for Adam’s, Next and Mothercare, before starting up the Tu brand at Sainsbury’s in 2008 – now in the top ten retailers for clothing in the UK.  Sainsbury’s has been part of BLE’s Retail Mentoring Programme since its launch six years ago, and John also formed part of the License This! 2014 judging panel.

How many years have you been attending the show?
Many years now, and also through representing many retailers I have worked for.

How long do you usually stay for?
Normally one or two days to fully maximise the meeting opportunities.

What do you remember about your first visit?
The width of categories on offer, opportunity, and the size of the show incorporating such diversity in licensing.

Have your needs changed in terms of what you want from the show?
Our needs are much more strategic now in terms of the meetings as we have with licensor partners through DTRs; as well as relationships we have built over time with many different cross-divisional licensing businesses. The focus now is to talk licensing from a total business opportunity – across many categories – and this is a key angle for attending the show and understanding 1-2 years out what is in the pipeline.

What do you love most about BLE?
The new ideas on offer. Also, the passion and excitement from so many of the licensors about what they are doing is always a great aspect of the show.

When I’m at BLE one thing I always do is…
Allow myself the time to walk the floor, aside from the appointments we make, to see what other new concepts are in the exhibition from licensors.

What do you do about lunch?
I usually only have time to eat via the wonderful confectionery on the TLC stand (much appreciated Lisa!).

What are you on the hunt for this year?
Growing and strengthening relationships with current partners and hearing about what’s new and what’s coming. Also looking for new ideas; there are always two or three that we sign up to work with because of seeing them first at the show.

What will make it a successful show for you this year?
Hearing of upcoming new additions to our licensing portfolio, and growing the relationships and future licensing success we already have. 

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