top of page


The Entertainer partners with Ashley Holman’s agency to expand iconic brand into new categories.

The Entertainer has partnered with Riverside Brands to lead its brand extension strategy for Early Learning Centre.

The heritage of the ELC brand – which The Entertainer acquired in February 2019 – and the iconic characters within the portfolio, lends itself to wider brand extensions into categories such as apparel, nightwear, health and beauty, publishing, nursery and experiences, particularly Happyland and the core ELC brand.

The partnership also marks a significant move for a retailer into the licensing space in what are challenging times, highlighting the commitment of the group to support the ELC brand; both within its own retail space and through bespoke brand extensions led by Riverside Brands.

“We are extremely excited to be partnering with Riverside Brands on this exciting opportunity for the Early Learning Centre brand,” said Stuart Grant, global sourcing officer at The Entertainer. “With such a strong heritage as an iconic part of early years development we are confident there is more opportunity for the brand to be an even bigger part of children’s early years by giving them greater access to the characters through carefully selected brand extensions.

“We are confident that Riverside Brands is the right partner to achieve this in a way that protects the brand by securing opportunities to compliment the existing brand heritage.” Ashley Holman, md of Riverside Brands, added: “We are delighted to be partnering with The Entertainer on this exciting opportunity for Early Learning Centre. “ELC has been a much-loved brand for nearly 50 years and we’re looking forward to making its iconic characters more accessible through brand extensions into areas such as apparel and bedding.”

Ashley continued: “Children love these characters, they’re an important part of their early years and we’re looking forward to making them available in categories which will complement the core toy ranges.”

Agency – headed up by Ashley Holman – has been tasked with creating innovative third party collaborations and licensing agreements for tournament.

Rugby League World Cup 2021 has confirmed Riverside Brands as the exclusive licensing agent of the tournament.

The agency – which was founded last year by former senior director at Nickelodeon, Ashley Holman – has been tasked with creating leading and innovative third party collaborations and licensing agreements for the tournament.

These will provide consumer products for existing and new fans, brand exposure, deepen engagement with the tournament and further support the RLWC2021 commercial programme.

Contested every four years, the 2021 tournament will be a breakthrough moment in its history with the men’s, women’s and wheelchair competitions being staged together for the first time during October and November next year.

RLWC2021 has also confirmed the appointment of Skew Studio to develop an insight-led style guide for consumer products which will support the tournament’s values and brand story, and be used across retail and licensees. This follows the announcement last month of Kappa as the Official Apparel Partner of RLWC2021.

“Our licensing strategy and delivery is a crucial part of our commercial programme,” said Jonathan Neill, commercial director at RLWC2021. “We need to transcend the sport of Rugby League and positively engage a new audience, and we feel that Riverside Brands and licensing will play a hugely important role in helping to achieve that.

“With 13 million people in the UK following Rugby League, 750,000 fans expected at the 61 matches at the tournament, coverage of all matches across the BBC, and international TV reach in over 100 territories, we have a significant platform and are excited about collaborating with brands on consumer products.”

Ashley Holman, md of Riverside Brands, added: “We’re really delighted to be working with the RLWC2021 team. After a tough year for sport, the prospect of extending the life of a much revered and eagerly anticipated tournament is really exciting to us.

“We’re looking forward to solidifying partnerships that champions the brand’s effervescent spirit, delights its loyal fans, as well as introducing it to new audiences.”.

Continuing our Licensing Chatter interview series, we catch up with the founder of Riverside Brands and Power 50 alumni, Ashley Holman

Hello Ashley, hope you’re staying safe and well! to kick us off, can you tell us how you got into the licensing business?

I’m one of the few people that actively looked to get into licensing from the outset. While studying for a degree in Marketing at university I was introduced to a number of people by my father in all sorts of industries from Banking to Specialist Ship Insurance Brokering. One introduction was to David Scott from Rainbow Productions who invited me for a beer with Ian Downes from Start Licensing and himself one half term…

They gave me an overview of the industry, the different roles that existed and how it all fitted together as an industry. Following a visit to Brand Licensing Show Europe in 2003 as a visitor I was amazed at the scale of the industry and the size of the commerce but at the same time the fun nature of the subject matter …….(including the Roy Lowe & Son boys walking around in Elvis suits for good measure).

I then knew that it was licensing over insurance for me… Following my graduation, I then managed to secure a role selling advertising into the industry with LicensingPages which gave me a great network and experience before a stint at Coolabi in my first licensing role. From there I moved to Nickelodeon where I had various licensing roles over a 12 year period before setting up Riverside Brand at the end of 2018.

To read the full interview please click the link below.

bottom of page