Value Drug Mart, a consortium of rural Alberta pharmacy owners and pharmacists, has undergone many changes in its nearly 38 years in business. Today, it includes 33 Value Drug stores, 10 Apple Drugs and 10 Rxellence Professional Dispensaries. The individual stores operate independently but benefit as a group by centralizing purchasing, marketing, warehousing and distribution.  

The company was founded in 1978 when 13 pharmacists decided to form an association to gain purchasing power usually available only to much larger companies. “Those 13 pharmacist-owners had a vision: to form an association so they could get all the benefits of centralized purchasing and distribution that the big chains enjoyed, while still maintaining the spirit of independent ownership and community focus that the people in their neighborhoods had come to depend on,” the company says. 


Based in El Dorado, Ark., Murphy USA is a national gas station and convenience store chain. Founded in 1996 by Murphy Oil Corp., Murphy USA spun off in 2013 as a stand-alone retail entity focused on providing customers with savings on fuel and c-store items. 

Today, Murphy USA operates more than 1,050 Murphy USA branded gas stations and convenience stores in 23 states. There are also more than 200 Murphy Express branded stores. Altogether, the company serves approximately 1.6 million customers a day. Most of its locations are strategically positioned near the parking lots of Walmart supercenters.

“In the mid-1990s, Murphy Oil saw how hypermarkets in Europe were adding a low price fuel offering and taking share from branded major oil companies,” President and CEO Andrew Clyde says. “Murphy worked with Walmart on some pilots and eventually began to build kiosk gas outlets in front of Walmart supercenters in the Southeast, Southwest and Midwest.”


Practically all successful licensing programs have two common elements: a recognizable brand and/or a likable character. Candy-making giant Mars, Incorporated is fortunate to have both. 

“Mars, Incorporated has so many iconic brands that consumers love,” says John Capizzi, general manager of retail brand activation for Mars Retail Group (MRG), which manages the company’s licensing and retail programs. “The M&M’S brand represents colorful fun, and consumers of all ages connect with our M&M’S Characters.” 

The M&M’S Characters, which have been featured in a series of successful television ads for nearly six decades, first began to emerge as a licensing phenomenon in 1997, the year the first M&M’S World store opened in Las Vegas. “At that point, our M&M’S Characters were really starting to develop personalities, and that store proved our chocolate consumers had a desire to experience the brand in new and different ways,” Capizzi says. “The overwhelmingly positive reaction of consumers entering our M&M’S World stores gave us the confidence that we could expand licensing into everyday retail, not just within the candy aisle but in a variety of different categories and channels.”


The place to shop in Los Angeles is Kitson. Over the past 15 years, the company has continued to offer exclusive, dynamic fashions and merchandise that exudes the essence of Los Angeles and draws a fair share of attention from celebrities, stylists and wardrobe departments. “L.A. is a big part of our background,” owner Fraser Ross says. “When there was ‘Sex and the City,’ it was always said that the fifth girl was New York City. I always say there is a marriage between Kitson and L.A.”

Ross started the company in 2000 as an entertainment/concept store that sells items such as clothing, accessories, books, perfume and toys for a broad audience. Kitson offers trending items for men, women and children of any age, and items change regularly depending on what is hot now. “We sell from soup to nuts, cradle to grave,” Ross says. “We are like a mini department store that carries a lot of commodities and appeals to all demographics. For example, Kitson has a book called ‘Fabulous at 50’ and ‘Keep Calm You’re Only 21.’”


When consumers choose KitchenAid, they can be assured the brand’s products are designed with high-performance features and quality design to help them in their culinary adventures.

“KitchenAid is for people who are passionate about cooking,” says Mike Huie, global business unit director for KitchenAid. “Our products are now available in 100 countries, and we are working to expand our presence in China, Europe, Latin America, Australia and India, while continuing to grow in the U.S. and Canada. 

“Almost three years ago, we went from licensing our cookware and bakeware to becoming the sole manufacturer,” he adds. “Since then, we developed 10 different lines of cookware and three lines of bakeware, including around 450 to 500 different pieces that we’re launching on a global basis this year.”


The Cat brand is one of the most prolific in the construction and mining sectors. Its Cat logo is iconic, and Caterpillar is the world’s leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, industrial gas turbines and diesel-electric locomotives. At the same time, Caterpillar has embarked on ambitious licensing efforts throughout its history to help the brand grow beyond its roots.

“Our licensing team is relatively small, consisting of six program managers, three product analysts and one contract and royalty administrator managing our 60 licensees around the globe,” Brand Advocacy and Licensing Manager  Kenny Beaupre says. “Today, our programming has grown, as Cat consumer products are available in not only the freestanding retail stores but also in 100,000 retail outlets selling nearly 50 million items of Cat merchandise.”


As far as Books-A-Million is concerned, reports of the death of the brick-and-mortar bookstore have been greatly exaggerated. “There are bookstores that are still growing,” says Shannon Tyndall, former vice president of real estate for the Birmingham, Ala.-based retailer. “We’re looking forward to 2015 and think it will be successful for us, which hasn’t been the case with a lot of bookstores in the past few years. I think bookstores are here to stay, which is great for us and great for the community.”

The company reported sales of $129.2 million during the 2014 holiday shopping season, an increase over the $127.9 million reported in 2013. “People are still buying books, they’re just doing it differently,” Tyndall adds.

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