Brand Licensing Europe's Sweet 16

Brand Licensing Europe is looking to build on the success of last year’s show–the best-attended event in its history–by bringing in a host of new brands and adding to its roster of unique show features.

Last year, Brand Licensing Europe hosted 288 exhibitors and more than 7,000 visitors from 69 countries. Now in its 16th year, BLE is aiming to top that with a raft of new and enhanced features and brands such as Chelsea FC and Von Dutch, both of which are exhibiting for the first time in 2014.

BLE will take place Oct. 7-9 at London's Olympia exhibition hall.

"BLE is the only definitive event in Europe for the licensing industry," says Darren Brechin, event director, Brand Licensing Europe. "You will not see the volume or quality of brands on display anywhere else throughout the year, nor will you find such a high concentration of retailers, licensees and sales promotion professionals under one roof over three days anywhere else."

The show floor will once again be divided into three distinct areas–Art, Design & Image; Brands & Lifestyle; and Character & Entertainment.

For a second year, the show will be expanded to the second level of Olympia, which will be home to the Art, Design & Image and Brands & Lifestyle areas. This year, the Brands & Lifestyle area will be extended onto the balcony, providing immediate visibility for the anchor exhibitors in that area, not to mention a great view of the character and entertainment stands below.

Additionally, the Brands & Lifestyle area will feature four distinct sub-sectors this year–Sports, Heritage, Lifestyle and Fashion–as well as a new seminar series that will complement the broader annual Licensing Academy program, with content developed specifically for this area of the show.

Big Names, New Brands

A host of top companies from around the world are already slated to showcase their brands, and more than 80 percent of the floor has already been sold. Exhibitors set for BLE include Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products, British Library, Chupa Chups, Dorna Sports, DreamWorks Animation, Hasbro, Historic Royal Palaces Enterprises, ITV Global Entertainment, Kevlar, Major League Baseball, Mind Candy, National Museum of Royal Navy, Nickelodeon, Rovio Entertainment, The Royal Ballet, Valerie Valerie and Warner Bros. Consumer Products.

More than 20 first time exhibitors have already signed on as well including comic book brand 2000 AD, Chelsea Football Club, Dutch publisher Clavis, chemical company DuPont (the creator of Kevlar), fashion brand Freegun, licensing agent Monday2Friday, Toonbox Studio, UEFA (the governing body for European football) and Von Dutch.

Mentoring for Retailers

Retail buyers from more than 70 major retailers attended last year's show, some of which participated in the one-of-a-kind Retail Mentoring Programme. Five new retailers–Debenhams, Marks & Spencer, Matalan, Card Factory and Blue Inc.–are joining the six month program this year alongside returning retailers such as Boots, Sainsbury's and Tesco.

Launched five years ago, the Retail Mentoring Programme offers participants a deeper understanding of the licensing industry. This year, more than 50 buying professionals from 10 leading retailers will take part in workshops and seminars over the next six months, culminating at BLE where they'll put their new knowledge to work.

"We decided to join the Retail Mentoring Programme last year as it gave our buyers an opportunity to get a 360-degree picture of how the industry works," says Matthew Canwell, director of buying, Lakeland, which is participating in the program again this year. "To make a license work well, you need to ensure there is collaboration between licensor and licensee–and the Retail Mentoring Programme enabled us to understand how to make that possible."

Enhanced Show Features

Popular features from shows past, including the Licensing Academy, the License This! challenge for new creative concepts, the Screening Suite and the Advice Centre, will all be returning this year, bigger and better than ever before.

Additionally, the Character & Entertainment area will become home to the new Entertainment Bar, a relaxed location for visitors and exhibitors to network and conduct business.

The Screening Suite cinema will give attendees previews of some the hottest upcoming blockbusters headed to screens (sessions are by invitation), while the Advice Centre will offer consultations on everything from legal and financial advice to contract guidance.

Running alongside the exhibition will once again be the Licensing Academy, featuring keynote sessions from industry experts. The schedule will be announced this summer. Over the past few years, the Academy has played host to sessions from leading licensors such as Mind Candy, Rovio, Volkswagon, Lucas Licensing and FIFA.

The License This! competition, now in its fifth year, offers new brands the opportunity to break into the global licensing industry. Entries (which can be submitted through Sept. 5) are reviewed by a panel of experts who pick a shortlist of four properties that will be presented in front of a live audience on the last day of BLE. The winning brand receives a fully furnished stand at the following year's show.

"I'm excited about everything that is happening this year–the new exhibitors that are coming on board, the sheer size of some of the stands that will be on display, the exciting feature areas that we are working on at the moment and especially the educational content," says Brechin. "The seminars will really step up a level this year, as we are working with some very high-profile presenters and organizations to deliver what I think will be the most informative and cutting edge program to-date."

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