Universal Brand Development continues to make big moves as the company grows its consumer products business and expands the studio’s global franchises, including Jurassic World, The Secret Life of Pets and Despicable Me (pictured). Today, five industry veterans were appointed to manage the company’s consumer product business in select EMEA territories.
Kathrin Brandhorst was named country director for Germany, Switzerland and Austria, while Virginie Kleinclaus will take on the role of country director for France. Karen Argos will serve as the country director in Iberia and Mariella Almasio is Italy’s new country director. Jean-Francois Auquier rounds out the appointments as the new country director for Benelux.
The team will report to Jonathan Baker, VP EMEA consumer products. Baker was appointed in October, along with Hannah Mungo, who was tapped as the new country director for the UK and Ireland. Universal Brand Development established an EMEA central office in London last year in response to the growth of its portfolio following the US$3.8-billion acquisition of DreamWorks Animation by parentco Comcast.
Based in Munich, Brandhorst will be responsible for driving growth and leading the consumer products team in her territory. She will also work with the company’s Germany agent, Super RTL, which is responsible for the DreamWorks portfolio. Previously, Brandhorst was responsible for the DreamWorks Consumer Products business in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and the Nordics.
Virginie Kleinclaus will lead strategic direction for the French region. She most recently served as managing director at CPLG France. Kleinclaus also spent nearly 20 years with Disney Consumer Products, where she held a variety of senior positions including retail and marketing director for major retailers in France and Benelux.
Before being named country director for Iberia, Spain and Portugal, Karen Argos was responsible for the softlines division at Disney Iberia.
Mariella Almasio, the new country director for Italy, previously served in various positions within Disney Consumer Products in Milan. With Disney, Almasio contributed to the business growth of the fashion and home lines.
Benelux country director Auquier was most recently responsible for managing DreamWorks agents in France and Benelux for DreamWorks Consumer Products. He has also held a number of positions at Disney Consumer Products, working across Benelux, the UK and Italy.
These appointments come just a day after Universal Brand Development unveiled a new leadership team charged with expanding its strategic focus on gaming, including self-published titles, based on its IPs. The company’s self-publishing efforts will initially focus on mobile, with gaming apps set to launch later this year before expanding to other platforms.
Three new execs–James Molinets, Timothy FitzRandolph and Fabian Schonholz–were appointed to drive the new business initiative. It was also announced that gaming executives Bill Kispert and Pete Wanat are taking on new roles as the business assumes a more direct role in the creative, development, marketing and distribution of multiplatform games based on its IPs.