LONDON: The UK licensing industry grew at more than twice the rate of the global market in 2015 and is now the second biggest in the world, according to new figures.

Data from the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers' Association (LIMA) shows that global retail sales of licensed merchandise increased 4.2% last year to reach a total value of $251.7bn.

But the UK licensing market leapt ahead 10% last year to overtake Japan and is now second only to the US; the total European market increased 7% and accounts for one quarter of the global market.

Entertainment and Characters was the most dominant global category, accounting for 45% of worldwide sales. This was followed by Corporate and Brand (21%), Fashion (12%) and Sports (10%).

Within the UK, the leading position of Entertainment and Characters was even more pronounced, at 74% of total licensed retail sales; Corporate and Brand (9%), Fashion (7%) and Sports (5%) were underrepresented.

Looking at product categories, Apparel accounted for 15% of global licensed retail sales, with Toys second at 13% and Accessories and Fashion third with 11%.

In the UK context, Toys were most important, accounting for 22% of licensed retail sales, followed by Apparel (15%) and Accessories and Fashion (7%).

"Licensing continues to grow fast and clearly punches above its weight when compared to general economic growth," said Kelvyn Gardner, Managing Director, LIMA UK.

"The UK has now become the second largest market in the world against what is still a tough retail environment, testimony to the strength of licensed brands, the quality of licensees' products and the vision of UK retail which clearly understands the message: 'licensing sells.'"

Data sourced from LIMA; additional content by Warc staff