Part I of Carol Spieckerman's Interview with Li & Fung's Rick Darling

I had the pleasure of speaking with Rick Darling, president of LF USA, following his terrific keynote presentation at the International Licensing Expo. LF USA is a subsidiary of Hong Kong-headquartered Li & Fung Limited, the multinational consumer goods export and logistics group.

Darling oversees LF USA’s rapidly expanding business in the U.S., where its portfolio of owned and licensed brands includes top entertainment companies, celebrity brands and fashion labels. As a key partner to the world’s major department stores and mass retailers, LF USA views retail from a unique vantage point and I was delighted to gain Rick's perspective on the challenges that lie ahead for our clients across the retail spectrum.

In the first of two parts, we discuss the global retail landscape including emerging formats, localization, cost increases, and sustainability, and the implications for suppliers, brands and retailers.

Carol Spieckerman: For years, people have been saying that the US market is over-stored. You echoed that in your presentation and assigned a percentage to it, saying that it could be by as much 20%. I’d like your thoughts on small format growth in the U.S. Dollar General is on track to open over 600 units this year, Aldi is opening close to 100, and of course there are Walmart’s Express concept and City Target as well. Is there room for all of these stores?

Rick Darling: The new formats that you’re talking about from Walmart, Aldi, Target, and the various big-box guys are really based on two things. First, it’s a reaction to the fact that from a big-box standpoint, they are over-stored. That said, these stores can’t stop growth.

Read the rest of the interview in Carol's column on the LIMA website.

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