This year's Brand Licensing Europe has been extended to three days, offers a retail mentoring program and has attracted new U.S. exhibitors.
Last year's event broke all attendance records—a 13 percent increase in total visitors, a 33 percent increase in international attendance and a hike of 7 percent in the number of retailers attending. Event director Jessica Blue says support to extend the show had become overwhelming. "Exhibitors will benefit from 35 percent more exhibit time and, with the show already bigger than it was last year, visitors will be glad of the extra time to see existing contacts, but also to hunt down what's new, which is something attendees consistently state as their objective," says Blue.
The art and design section is nearly sold out and the U.K.'s heritage sector is now comprehensively represented at the show. The Museum of London joins organizations such as the Science Museum, V&A, Natural History Museum and Royal Opera House.
Returning exhibitors are choosing to increase their space this year. "A significant number of companies have increased their stand size," says Jon Gibson, the show's sales director. "They want extra room for meetings, but also want room to showcase actual products to retailers. LEGO, Classic Media, Sanrio and Start Licensing, for example, have at least doubled their stand sizes."
Building on the record attendance of retailers last year, BLE has introduced a retail mentoring program designed to help retailers gain a better understanding of the licensing industry and to link the two worlds of licensing and retail for longer than the duration of the show. Retailers have nominated their junior and assistant buyers to receive training, coaching and the opportunity to shadow a licensor/agent. The program launched with the LIMA Licensing Essentials Course in London in May. Sainsbury's and Mothercare are the first two retailers to sign up.
Another important component of the show is the Licensing Academy. The 2010 keynote address will be given by Andrew Davenport, the creator of "In the Night Garden" and co-creator of "Teletubbies" (along with Anne Wood). The Licensing Academy will also host its first sessions on celebrity licensing and on the Central and Eastern European market. Christian Fortmann, partner at 24IP, will be joined by Darin Shaya, global head of IP for Black and Decker, to present an advanced seminar on protecting a brand in the marketplace. This year also marks the inauguration of License It!, the show's first licensing challenge. A shortlist of new creative concepts will be pitched to a panel chaired by Helen McAleer (managing director of Walker Books) to compete for the prize of a ready-to-use booth at BLE 2011.
In March, the Advanstar Global Licensing Group held its first event in mainland Europe, called Brand Licensing Central and Eastern Europe, in Budapest, Hungary. It attracted retailers and licensees from 25 countries with representatives from companies such as Avon, Tesco, Egmont, TV Mania and Cartamundi. Details about the event for 2011, also to be held in Budapest, will be announced soon.
"The show has grown consistently year-on-year and is now well-established as the place to do licensing business in Europe. We always strive to deliver an event that brings together world-class brands with the decision makers that will take those brands to the consumer," says Blue. "With the addition of screenings, the retail mentoring program and top-flight seminars, 2010 looks likely to be our most exciting year yet."
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