By David Gill
HoMedics’ license agreement with The Sharper Image marks the first
important step toward transforming the latter from a retailer to a global lifestyle brand.
Earlier this month, the two companies formed a $540 million, five-year agreement whereby HoMedics will manufacture Sharper Image-branded products in the categories of home environment, electronics, men’s personal care, men’s gifts, health and wellness, weather and concierge. As Federico de Bellegarde, Sharper Image’s vice president of licensing, explained in an interview with HFN, the products that will be developed under this agreement will be all new, not a relabeling of existing products.
Among the new products, de Bellegarde said, are MP3 docking stations, stereo radios and indoor-outdoor wireless speakers; weather stations; men’s shavers, trimmers; gift items in the wine, barbecue, automotive and golf categories; blood-pressure monitors and scales; air cleaners, humidifiers and air-purification products; and pants presses, clothing steamers, jewelry and eyeglass cleaners, shoe buffers and motorized tie racks.
Sharper Image, the retail chain that had been under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection since February, was purchased in June by a joint venture consisting of Hilco Consumer Capital, Gordon Brothers Brands and Bluestar Alliance. Shortly after this deal was finalized, executives with the joint venture told HFN that one of the key strategies going forward would be to establish Sharper Image as a brand.
Ron Ferber, president of HoMedics, said this agreement is the largest license program HoMedics has ever undertaken. The company had participated in license programs in the past, but on a much smaller scale.
The deal makes sense for both parties because HoMedics had been a vendor for Sharper Image stores for about 15 years, Ferber said. HoMedics manufactured beauty products, scales and blood-pressure monitors for Sharper Image.
“The DNA of both companies is pretty much the same,” Ferber said. “We both got to where we are based on technology and innovation. HoMedics has always pushed technology and innovation ahead of price.”
Ferber also said the air cleaners and weather products that will bear the Sharper Image name will be new product categories for HoMedics. “This license program will be treated as a separate business unit,” he said. “This unit will consist of people whose full-time job will be to develop and market the Sharper Image line.” He added that HoMedics is in the process of searching for executives to staff this new unit.
“This line will start as low as $19 and go as high as thousands of dollars,” Ferber said.
Sharper Image “will live as a brand to be licensed,” de Bellegarde said. The decision on whether Sharper Image could reappear as a retail presence had not been made yet by the joint-venture companies, de Bellegarde said.
Both executives said HoMedics’ Sharper Image line will appear at retail by the summer of 2009.