Nickelodeon looks to follow Disney into China

Childrens’ TV channel Nickelodeon has revealed it may open one of its international flagship stores in Shanghai.

If so, the US-based subsidiary of Viacom, would be following Disney into China’s commercial capital, Shanghai. Disney opened in May and queues have formed daily outside the store as shoppers enjoy both the engaging environment and the merchandise inspired by cartoon characters.

Nickelodeon owns the cartoon concepts SpongeBob Squarepants, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Ren & Stimpy and Dora the Explorer, among others.

Next week, Nickelodeon opens a flagship store in London’s Leicester Square, (pictured above in an artist’s rendering) following successful retail ventures in Riyadh, Honduras and Panama during the past year.

Unlike Disney, Nickelodeon works with a franchise partner rather than run its retail operations directly, but it remains heavily involved in the design, conceptualisation, fit out and merchandising.

Ron Johnson, executive vp of consumer products at Viacom International Media Networks, told the Hollywood Reporter the London store was its first flagship.

“This is our first store that is a destination store, including great consumer interaction on video screens, fixtures like Dora’s tree and a pineapple that is from Bikini Bottom,” said. “We definitely see flagship stores as a growth vehicle and working for us in the right markets across the world.”

Three more Nickelodeon stores are planned for 2015. While no announcement has been made about the locations of those, Johnson confirmed “we are definitely looking at places like Dubai, Shanghai, Paris and Milan”.

‎The London store ranges London and UK-themed merchandise featuring the brand’s characters – items such as a SpongeBob toy with a bearskin hat and a T-shirt featuring a SpongeBob-adaptation of The Beatles’ famous Abbey Road album.

Nickelodeon’s characters feature in merchandise sold by many retailers in the Uk, including supermarket giant Tesco. But Johnson says 80 per cent of the flagship’s stock will be exclusive.

Leicester Square was chosen because it has a footfall of more than 35,000 pedestrians each day, a large percentage of them tourists, allowing the brand to reach markets other than the UK. Such a decision might be an indicator of preferred locations for the brand in other retail markets like Shanghai.

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