BLE’s Retail Mentoring Programme returns

Event director Darren Brechin sets the scene for what to expect from the growing initiative.

Back in 2010 we identified a marked increase in the number of retailers attending Brand Licensing Europe, this is a trend that has continued and at BLE 2015 we saw a year on year retail increase of 19%.

The more we researched, the clearer it became that there were gaps in retailer understanding of the licensing process itself and the wide array of properties available to them. Through the Retail Mentoring Programme, it is our intention to help junior buyers and those with perhaps less experience of the licensing industry to both make more informed licensing decisions and to consider licensing opportunities from across the whole industry.

Understandably, for buyers and retailers new to the industry, licensing can be confusing and complex. There is constant pressure to find the right partners while keeping on top of trends, and therefore it’s vital to choose the right licences in a vast and ever-changing marketplace.

It was at this point that we launched the Retail Mentoring Programme, a six-month initiative designed to give junior and less experienced members of the buying and merchandising teams a deeper understanding of the industry. It started out in 2010 with the support of two retailers, Sainsbury’s and Mothercare, and now, seven years on, has worked with nearly 200 delegates from over 20 separate retail organisations.

Over the years the programme has evolved to become all-encompassing and now sees delegates attend workshops, seminars, the LIMA Licensing Essentials course and also take part in the judging day for The Licensing Awards. It all culminates with a visit to BLE, where the past six month’s theory is put into practice. Participants tell us that one of the highlights for them is the chance to shadow ‘licensing mentors’ in their offices, and really get to grips with the industry from a licensor’s perspective. We have also been told that just being able to understand the licensing process and terminology is a major stepping stone; as well as learning about which magazines to read and websites to watch.

Of course, the programme has huge benefits for licensors too – enabling them to build relationships with some of Europe’s major retailers first-hand. Those retailers who were bold enough to jump in at the start are still with us, and those junior buyers now hold influential roles. Our licensors have been working with them at every stage of their careers.

So as we enter into the planning stages for the 18th annual BLE, this year’s Retail Mentoring Programme will kick off next month and is set to expand once more. This year we are focused on growing specific categories, looking in particular at:

• Stationery
• Toys and games
• Health and beauty
• Food and beverage
• Housewares

As the programme progresses we will bring regular updates as well as interviews with delegates and licensors. For more information about the Retail Mentoring Programme, please visit

This year’s Brand Licensing Europe runs from October 11-13 2016 at Olympia, London.

Visitor registration opens in May at

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