Seen in New York: Observations from NY Tabletop Show

Here’s some of that we observed at last week’s New York Tabletop Show:

• Hearst Corp.’s Delish cooking and recipe digital brand is moving into licensed products for the first time via a licensing with Robinson Home Products, which developed 120 SKUs of dinnerware, kitchen gadgets, bakeware and other products. The agreement includes Robinson operating the web site that is expected to go live this week with 60 SKUs of kitchen gadgets. The branded products will be used on Delish cooking shows. Dinnerware is expected to be available in early 2020. Delish also will use branded products during its shows.

“It’s not like you see kitchen gadgets advertised on TV every day; this is a great way to see products in use,” says Robinson CEO Ross Patterson. “It takes a stationery category that hangs on a peg on the wall into something more dynamic.”

The deal gave Robinson, which last year ended a nine-year run with the Oneida license for flatware, a chance to reach a broader audience than it has been able to attract to its own Robinson and Living by Robinson house brands, says Patterson.

“Without a national brand, there are retailers that are less interested in your products,” says Patterson. “We felt it was time to do something licensing-wise that was very different for us; it’s not like this was going to be just another collection of [kitchen] tools.”

Delish, launched in 2015, had 41 million unique visitors in September. Hearst plans to extend the brand into other categories including beverage and barware, says Hearst’s Steve Ross. The Robinson line will be available at brick-and-mortar retail in second half 2020.

• Tabletops Unlimited showed a new dinnerware collection from the designers in Scout Productions’ “Queer Eye” series that launched a second season on Netflix in July.

• R2/Zrike Brands struck a broad licensing agreement with Warner Bros. that will bring “Friends” into dinnerware and kitchen textiles (towels, pot holders), and Superman, Batman, Harry Potter and other brands into children’s dinnerware kits. The first of the “Friends” products – a popcorn bowl – is expected to launch through TJ Maxx this fall. Zrike also has new agreements with Peanuts Worldwide (children’s dinnerware kits, cookie jars and banks) and Peter Rabbit. It also will ship PBS Kids dinner and drinkware products in 2020 featuring Arthur and Dinosaur Train characters after delaying a launch planned for this year.

Cambridge Silversmiths is expanding sales of its Food Network Chef Robert Irvine’s cutlery and cutting boards to Dillard’s.

“The entertainment licenses are as hot as they have ever been [in tabletop] and ever since Disney celebrated Mickey’s 90th [anniversary in 2018] retailers have become more interested in anniversaries and licensing in general,” says Zrike CEO David Zrike.

• Cambridge Silversmiths has launched sales of Foot Network chef Robert Irvine’s kitchen and barware through U.S. Military Exchanges and will introduce cutlery and cutting boards at Dillard’s this month.

• The Jay Companies is readying a 200-SKU assortment of decorative frames, boxes and ceramic and melamine dinnerware with swimsuit designer Trina Turk, with the bulk of the line shipping in 2020.

• Lenox, which once focused on licensing niche brands for dinnerware (Domino Magazine and architect Luca Andrisani, among others), is shifting to broader collaborations with higher profile labels, akin to its licensing deal with Kate Spade, says Senior Licensing Manager Morgan Bowman.  “Instead of taking a smaller brand and creating a massive collection, we are going to start with our base in the Lenox brand and then have collaborations that add elements to it,” says Bowman.

Lenox has dinnerware agreements with bridal wear brand Marchesa, Disney and interior designers Brian Gluckstein and Thomas O’Brien, the latter for the company’s Reed & Barton label.

The company also continues to license out its own brand. It recently signed Arlee Home Fashions for table linens, decorative pillows, kitchen textiles and other products to replace Bardwil Home, which closed its doors. It also has a pact with CR Gibson for stationery, gift bags and guest books.

• With many tabletop suppliers relying on Chinese manufacturing – Robinson Home and Zrike, for example, source 90% of their products from China – many are negotiating price reductions with factories and, in some cases, imposing wholesale price increases. Robinson has imposed select wholesale price increases in the “high teens” on some dinnerware, while Zrike has received 2-3% reductions from some suppliers. The tariffs, the most recent of which was 15% imposed by the U.S. Trade Representative on Sept. 1, has cut 7% from Zrike’s gross margin, says David Zrike, adding that the company’s wholesale pricing for 2020 will reflect the tariff costs. The tariffs hit kitchen gadgets, the majority of which are manufactured in China, particularly hard with Robinson, Cambridge and others implementing select price increases

• Sustainable materials are appearing more widely. Many of Zrike’s licensed children’s dinnerware kits are made of 80% biodegradable bamboo fiber. Meanwhile, Certified International introduced its first bamboo fiber dinnerware using licensed designs from illustrator Steve Haskamp and artist Andrea Tachiera.

• Lifetime Brands and Certified expanded their rosters of licensed artists. Lifetime introduced a line of dinnerware featuring interior designer and Hallmark Channel host Jennifer Adams, while Certified showed a “Coastal Tranquility” line with designs from artists represented by MHS Licensing. Certified showed ceramic dinnerware (plates, mugs, ice cream bowls) featuring designers John Loecke and Jason Oliver Nixon’s Madcap Cottage lifestyle brand that also has found its way into licensed bedding and children’s furniture. The Madcap collection will launch in the spring.


Cambridge Silversmiths, Eric Fine, VP Cambridge Home, 973-797-1532,

Certified International, Linda O’Donnell, Design Dir., 914-741-1332 x142,

Hearst Corp., Steve Ross, Chief Brand Licensing Officer, 212-649-3259,

Lenox, Morgan Bowman, Senior Licensing Mgr.,  267-525-7800,

Lifetime Brands, Evan Miller, President, 516-683-8000

MHS Licensing, John Haesler, Partner, 952-544-1377,

Robinson Home Products, Ross Patterson, Pres., 716-685-1142

Tabletops Unlimited, Mosen Asgari, Owner, 310-549-6000,

Zrike Brands, David Zrike, CEO, 201-329-9745,

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