Ultimate Products has secured a major licensing deal to produce a new range of kitchenware under licence from electrical appliances brand Russell Hobbs.
Ultimate, which is the largest Far East sourcing group in the UK, has signed an exclusive three-year agreement with Russell Hobbs’ parent Spectrum Brands (UK) to develop a range of cookware, bakeware and kitchen utensils specifically for the UK market.
Russell Hobbs small appliances are currently distributed in the UK by Manchester-based Russell Hobbs Europe (formerly Salton Europe). However, Ultimate says that it will also be purchasing that stock and that all Russell Hobbs products going forward will be supplied by Ultimate.
The company, which designs, sources and supplies over 3,000 leading products for retailers such as Argos and Tesco, says the deal is part of a wider strategy to secure licensing deals with iconic British brands with a reputation for quality and innovation.
Founded in Britain in 1952 by Bill Russell and Peter Hobbs, the Russell Hobbs brand is best known for its kettles and toasters, having launched the world’s first automatic electric kettle, the K1, in 1955. The company was acquired last year by US-based kitchen and household appliance specialist Spectrum Brands.
Russell Hobbs managing director Tim Wright described the deal with Ultimate as “an important step for our brand in the UK market”. He said Ultimate’s teams in the UK and Hong Kong had developed a highly professional supply chain process, from design and sourcing, to logistics and critical path, to customer service and brand management.
“We’re excited about our journey into a new category with Ultimate Products,” he added.
Ultimate Products supplies 16 different categories, from homewares and electricals to lighting and furnishings. The company was founded as a stock clearance business in 1997 by CEO Simon Showman and business partner Barry Franks, and secured the backing of private equity firm LDC in 2005 as part of a £25m transaction to fuel its international expansion plans.
Since then, sales have almost doubled and employee numbers have risen from 100 to over 230. It operates from a 175,000sq ft warehouse and showroom complex in Manchester, and has offices in Belgium, India, China and Hong Kong.