Carol Spieckerman Talks Lifestyle Branding, Acquisitions, (and Mad Men) with Iconix COO, Yehuda Shmidman

In September, I had the pleasure of sharing the podium with Yehuda Shmidman, Chief Operating Officer of Iconix Brand Group, at LIMA’s inaugural Retail and Brand Conference in New York. Iconix (NASDAQ: ICON) is the second largest licensor in the world and, in the aggregate, the company generates over $12 billion in annual retail sales by managing and marketing a diverse portfolio of more than 25 consumer brands including PEANUTS / Snoopy, London Fog, Royal Velvet, Mossimo, and Joe Boxer. Mr. Shmidman also heads up global business development for Iconix and this year he was included in the “40 Under 40″ list by Crain’s New York.

In the first of two parts, Shmidman discusses lifestyle branding, Iconix’s diversification strategies, and the company’s recent brand acquisitions. The following is an excerpt

Carol Spieckerman: You’ve certainly been busy since I last saw you in New York in September. Just in this last week, we’ve heard about another exclusive deal with JC Penney, as well as the big announcement that you’re acquiring Sharper Image.

Yehuda Shmidman: That’s right.

Spieckerman: I think that’s a good place to start. Sharper Image is following Borders and Linens ‘N Things as the latest retailer to go from being store-based to more of a pure intellectual property model, and now you guys own it. In the old days, these brands would have just faded away. If the stores went away, the brand went away. What do you see as the possibilities today?

Shmidman: I believe that brands are valuable. So, regardless of whether a brand started as a retailer at one point, or as a shoe brand, like we did with Candie’s, or started in some other form, the intellectual property behind it has tremendous value and that’s what we look to leverage, to grow, and to continue to market. So for us, it’s not so much where a brand came from but where it can go, what it means to consumers, and what the emotional connection is.  Read the rest of the interview...

Read Part II