Strike up the brand for Marvel

U licensing exec exits; to focus on int'l biz, retailers

NEW YORK — Universal Studios consumer products exec Timothy E. Rothwell is decamping to Marvel Enterprises, where he will become prexy of the comic company’s Worldwide Consumer Products Group.

In his new role, Rothwell will oversee all licensing and merchandising activities for Gotham-based Marvel.

Licensing guru Rothwell is credited with helping turn Universal consumer products — ranging from toys and apparel to publishing, beverages and interactive games — into a $1 billion business at the retail level. In his seven-year tenure as senior VP at Universal, Rothwell helped exploit U brands such as Jurassic Park, Curious George, the Cat in the Hat and the Hulk. The latter effort had him working regularly with character licensee Marvel.

Licensing comprises the majority of Marvel cash flow and profits, and in the second quarter of 2003 revenues from character licensing fees jumped threefold to $56.8 million, thanks largely to “Spider-Man” and “X2: X-Men United” product sales. Toy sales dropped in the same quarter, however, to $13.7 million from $35.8 million.

Licensing duties

In particular, Rothwell will be charged with developing Marvel’s international licensing business and strengthening relationships with retailers, both weak spots at the moment.

Marvel claims a library of over 4,700 proprietary characters.

“Licensing is our core discipline and, despite our recent success, there is still significant growth potential, especially in the relatively uncharted international arena,” said Marvel CEO Allen Lipson, noting Rothwell’s relationships with “the key retailers and top manufacturers in all segments of consumer products.”