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Character Exchange pays tribute to a “genuinely people-orientated industry”

“It is often said that licensing is a people business,” began Richard Hollis, licensing manager of HTI as he addressed a roomful of licensors and licensee members of the Character Exchange group who attended its annual lunch event, which took place at The Ivy last week.

With his deft turn of phrase and astute comedic timing, Richard said: “We in the Character Exchange get together as licensing people to gossip about other licensing people, moan about licensors and then to go off for a pint, but to justify our existence, we thought that once a year we’d throw an industry lunch. And so, we found ourselves in need of some people.

So, we made a list of our 50 favourite people in licensing. The ones who are kind, articulate, informed, intelligent and astute. And we invited them to lunch. Obviously, a lot of them couldn’t make it, so we made up the list by inviting the licensors we thought were most likely to waive an unrecouped Minimum Guarantee. And here you are.”

Ending on a serious note, Richard – speaking on behalf of fellow Character Exchange members (which include Blues Group, Blueprint Collections, Amscan, Egmont, Harper Collins, Danilo, Roy Lowe) who collectively funded and organised the joyful gathering – “We want to pay tribute to this genuinely people-orientated industry and to the lovely people who work within it. Without each other and our intertwined relationships none of us would have a job.”

He gave a special mention to Lisa Shand, managing director of Blueprint Collections for arranging the whole event “and for dealing with the people we expected to come who didn’t turn up. And for dealing with the people we didn’t expect who did turn up!”

Ian Downes, director of Start Licensing, followed Richard in giving thanks on behalf of all the licensors who were lucky to have been invited as guests. As Ian told “I realised some time ago that licensing is a network business and as a licensing agent it is important to nurture your network. Being invited to the Character Exchange’s lunch event certainly helps with networking, but beyond that it provides a reassuring sense of being part of the licensing community. It is lovely to be invited and something I always appreciate. It is of course a good way of catching up with the licensees who are part of Character Exchange, but it is also a welcome chance to exchange opinions with industry colleagues from the licensor and agent sectors. I applaud the Character Exchange for hosting such a useful and enjoyable event – they are certainly doing their bit to support the licensing community and to help sustain it.”

Adding his views, fellow guest, Rob Corney, managing director of Bulldog Licensing, said: “The Character Exchange lunch is one of the industry’s great highlights. It’s brilliant to get the chance to spend time with friends and partners from across the licensing world and it’s a great demonstration of the amazing community spirit we are so lucky to enjoy. Huge thanks to all members of the Exchange for their generosity.”

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