Brand Licensing Europe 2023: ‘There was an overarching theme of partnership’

“A resounding success”, “a vibrant atmosphere”, “a real buzz”, “lots of energy and positivity” just some of the feedback from exhibitors and visitors at this year’s show.

LicensingSource.net gathers some feedback from exhibitors and visitors at this year’s Brand Licensing Europe 2023.

Paul Bufton, vp EMEA, Universal Products & Experiences

“Brand Licensing was a resounding success for the business. Gabby’s Dollhouse continues her meteoric rise but one of the most positive takeaways was the high level of interest across our entire portfolio. Universal Products and Experiences isn’t a single brand business and the constant flow of visitors to the stand interested in everything from Jurassic to Trolls through to Despicable Me to Horror attests to this. The quality of meetings and retail attendance was notable and will pave the way for exciting new ventures in the years ahead. Congratulations to Anna and the team at Informa for another great show.”

 

Charlotte Payne, director of international licensing, Cloudco Entertainment

“BLE was a bustling show for us at Cloudco Entertainment, and the excitement around Care Bears was phenomenal. It’s not always easy to explore the show while exhibiting, but our clients were enthusiastic and positive about what we had to share. The show felt busier compared to previous years. Although we had a packed schedule coming into the event, we ended up having several unplanned meetings with retailers and licensees. Additionally, it was a pleasure to welcome more international partners, including those from Korea, Japan, India and Australia. The highlight of the show was undoubtedly Care Bears, a timeless brand that remains a fan favorite and one to keep an eye on in 2024. I’m excited to share more about what we have planned for the upcoming year.”

 

Damian Treece, senior licensing manager, Bravado

“Brand Licensing Europe is absolutely a key event for the Bravado team and an event we’re looking forward to as soon as we land from Vegas.2023 was probably our busiest show of recent years with quality meetings across retailers and partners, especially across new business; a testament to the work that the organisers have done to bring more retailers to the show. Highlight of our show, aside from meeting with a couple of great potential retailers and partners, was finding a great dinner spot in Canary Wharf, but I’m keeping that secret so it doesn’t get over ran in 2024.”

Bulldog's Sophie says that the show was the best in years in terms of commitments and expectations.
Bulldog's Sophie says that the show was the best in years in terms of commitments and expectations.

Sophie Yates, brand manager, Bulldog Licensing

“We had lots of great meetings at the show with exciting news and ideas being shared and we’re busy doing follow ups now to ensure these conversations progress. We also had numerous interesting walk-ons and we’re really happy to be speaking to new potential partners to explore how we can work together moving forwards. BLE provides a great opportunity to meet with new companies, especially those looking at licensing for the first time.

“There was a positive buzz around the show, and it was fantastic to see so many visitors walking the aisles (despite the on/off strikes). There’s still some nervousness in the market with the geopolitical situation the world finds itself in, but this is certainly markedly improved from recent years. Most partners are looking to push through this now and build new plans and opportunities, especially across the numerous well-established properties we represent with a strong track record of growth in sell-through.

“Undoubtedly the highlight was the atmosphere… it was the best show for years in terms of commitments and expectations with some real excitement about commercial prospects for the year ahead.”

 

Ian Wickham, director, Licensing Link Europe

“Brand Licensing Europe 2023 saw a significant increase in quality meetings as retailers and new European potential licensees hit the show floor. We experienced a real appetite across our portfolio highlighting a desire to change things up rather than following the tried and tested routes and properties. Yes, it’s all in the follow up, but for now, we are buzzing from a hectic and positive three days.”

 

Sarah Jackson, director of licensing, Primark

“BLE was a great success this year, connecting with our key strategic global partners is vital to the success of our business. The quality of our meetings and continual brilliant discussions are true testament to the fantastic partners Primark have in the licensing industry. BLE was back with a bang this year, the atmosphere at the show was incredibly positive.

“The main highlight absolutely has to be the amount of great conversations we have had within the last week, and the shared passion from all of our partners to work strategically at pace to surprise and delight our customers.”

PokemonBLEMathieu Galante, licensing director EMEA, The Pokémon Company International

“It’s been a good BLE for us. We had a very successful stand that attracted much attention, we met loads of people and enjoyed a lot of fruitful meetings across all markets. It was great to see that there was a much bigger European delegation this year and that helped to create a very vibrant atmosphere, the whole event had a very positive buzz and was great to be a part of.

“I’d say my personal show highlight was seeing the huge number of people queuing up for photos of Pikachu in front of our Van Gogh picture. I really must get myself a hat like that too!”

 

Magdalena Biernat-Heikkinen, director, international licensing, Rights & Brands

“BLE 2023 was super successful for our entire Rights & Brands team. We truly enjoyed the show. We had huge number of walk-ins, including significant size fashion retailers who really love Moomin artwork. The quality of all meetings was outstanding and this wonderful vibe… seeing old and new faces in the licensing industry… left us with such a positive feeling. We are very lucky to be part of this amazing licensing community that is always welcoming, inclusive and positive; exactly as Moomin values are.”

 

Faye Rashad, licensing and key account manager, Brand Alliance

“We had a great BLE this year – it was our biggest stand to date, doubled in size from last year and big growth since our first stand five years ago. We had three days of back to back meetings with new and established license partners and retailers. Lots of exciting conversations and possible collaborations were discussed and we now head into the follow ups with excitement.

“There was a real buzz at the show – despite the train strike, it was a well attended event and the floor was busy. There was a constant flow of people on or passing our stand with lots of interest and excitement about our product development and brands. There are so many highlights to pull out, but I would say the level of new retailers that came to our stand and new exciting opportunities to grow our business with them. In addition some fabulous new brand opportunities that we are eagerly following up.”

RocketBLE

Rob Wijeratna, joint md, Rocket Licensing

“It was one of the best ever BLE’s for Rocket! The show felt pre-Covid in atmosphere, with lots of energy and positivity, while it’s always good to have lots of decision makers all together, in a ‘can do’ state of mind, allowing decisions to be made and deals to be progressed more quickly. Also, you can’t beat that unique trade show ‘corridor chatter’ and buzz that you get at these events, that can never be replicated online.

“We certainly seemed to have that buzz and momentum, with great meetings and potential partners, (licensees/retailers) leaving the show talking about some of our brands, including Miffy, The Elf on The Shelf Santaverse, Beano and ESA (The European Space Agency), among others.”

John Taylor, vp Northern Europe, WildBrain CPLG

“BLE was once again a very successful event for WildBrain CPLG. Across the team, we had lots of meetings and our calendars were back-to-back with productive conversations – including plenty of catch ups with retailers. We had plenty of drop-ins and people visiting the stand too. Overall, the atmosphere of BLE was very buzzy and the show floor felt busy and lively which was great to see. The European licensing industry was really well represented, and they were also very engaged with the event. There was a positive vibe during the show, and it left us all feeling like there’s lots to look forward to in 2024. I really enjoyed having lots of conversations about the ‘kidult’ trend – which was frequently mentioned by licensors and visitors to our stand. It was definitely the word we heard the most during the show.”

Nick Smith, evp formats and licensing, All3Media International

“We had a really strong show this year. All3Media International is still a relatively new presence in the licensing market and so BLE was a moment for us to expand our presence and showcase our impressive portfolio of brands. It was great to have Jason Easy there for his first market with All3Media International as vp licensing, while Jane Sharp is on maternity leave.

“As expected, we had a huge amount of interest in The Traitors, as we look to add to our partnership with Goliath, Ginger Fox, Rubies, Metrostar, Penguin Random House and now The Everywhere Group, our recently announced partner in immersive experience deal. The overall vibe was great, a little quiet first thing on Wednesday due to the rail strike but it was buzzing by mid-morning. We met with a host of licensees, retailers, distributors and agents and it was great to see so many familiar faces, and several new ones too.”

RHSBLE

Cathy Snow and Kevin Smith, RHS

“Overall, we had very a successful show with some exciting conversations to follow up on. In fact, despite some cancelled appointments due to travel issues, we were busy for the entire three days. We also had a quite a few walk-on opportunities, some planned, some spur of the moment, but all welcome and, potentially, productive.

“BLE was a constant hive of activity and positive energy. The numerous positive comments  we received about our stand. Many visitors – and passers-by – remarked on how attractive and striking it was. For some, in fact, it was a reason to stop and engage. That’s quite a result considering we’re not a big team – and yet somehow we managed the whole project from creation to set up and take down”

Mark Kingston, co-founder and ceo, Libertas Brands

“The show was great for us with over 30 high quality meetings across the three days immersing licensees, retailers, agents, potential production houses and trade press partners on our exciting plans for the Fuggler brand going forward and how Libertas Brands can provide a forward thinking and innovative edge to brand owners as they develop their content and licensing plans.

“I felt that, as there was no one big standout IP/movie launch being showcased this year, that it created a level playing field across the show and there was a real genuine level of enthusiasm and willingness to look broader than the usual suspects. It was clear that trading conditions are very tough at the moment but overall there was a positive outlook for 2024 and beyond.

“Show highlight was definitely sharing the FUGG-love all around and putting many smiles on lots of faces as we showed some of our beloved, quirky, cheeky and mischievous Fugglers to everyone.”

Jamie Drew, evp licensing consumer products, Paramount

“BLE 2023 was a major success. We had a huge partner turnout at the Paramount showcase and at our booth, and the energy was palpable. Our UK and EMEA teams connected with current and prospective partners, and we even had some surprise retailer visits. Everyone came to the show with purpose and wanting to transact, so we’ve had some really meaningful new business conversations that we are looking forward to progressing.

“The show was really dynamic and exciting. It felt like we are finally back to pre-pandemic levels, and both exhibitors and attendees are thrilled to be IRL. I was so impressed with how everyone showed up. I may be biased, but our booth was bustling and energized on all three days.”

Emily Fawcett, head of global licensing, Abysse

“This year was incredibly successful. We had good quality meetings with key partners and lots of new ones as well; retail contacts and buyers from all sectors and countries came onto the stand which was fantastic and, as an international team it is always a bonus to spend time with our colleagues from around the world.

“Even with the challenges we are all currently facing the atmosphere was upbeat and positive. The licensing industry is so friendly that we all look forward to these opportunities to reconnect in person and that always gives the show a very special feel. For me the highlight this year was the overarching theme of partnership in all my meetings. Conversations were open, honest and therefore very meaningful. We are all working towards the same goals and I am excited to see what the next 12 months bring.”

Angelo Ramessar and Shannon Hayes, founders and artists, Naru Naru

“We had an amazing experience at BLE, and found it to be a great success. As newcomers, we weren’t quite sure what to expect, but it turned out to be a fantastic decision for us. The event provided us with the opportunity to meet so many new people through meetings and networking. As a new brand, this was incredibly valuable. We received amazing advice and have been offered fantastic opportunities.

“The atmosphere at the show was great. Despite the bustling activity, everything felt well-organized and relaxed. Everyone we met was so friendly and open. Our fellow exhibitors very kindly guided us, making the experience even more enjoyable.

“The highlight of BLE for us was the learning experience. In just three days, we gained more knowledge than we could have ever imagined. It has not only helped us chart the course for our brand’s growth but also clarified the directions we need to pursue in the future.”

RoubinaBLE

Roubina Tchoboian, head of global licensing, Banijay Kids & Family

“We had a packed schedule, and it was all very productive. One goal was to pitch global licensees and find new agents before the global rollout of the new and rebooted Totally Spies!. Our Topo Gigio licensees were also a key focus. Overall, there was a lot of interest, and we have a number of deals in the making within a week of the show.

“The show felt busy which was great to witness. In the last few years, we’ve all discussed the uncertainty of the markets. And although nobody can be sure of anything, buyers and licensees seemed super positive about what is to come in 2023 and 2024.

“With the number of meetings we had, I didn’t get a chance to walk around, but seeing our partners’ faces when I presented them with the come-back of Totally Spies! was priceless.”

Sarah Lawrence, md, This is Iris

“What a show! I’ve lost count of how many discussions started with “Doesn’t it feel like we’re back!” We all know what the challenges are within licensing but it finally felt that the industry was over talking about them and ready to move on, together. It was certainly one of the best BLE’s I’ve been to in a very long time.

“BLE has always been part of my diary and it’s always a great way to make new connections, share updates with existing partners and catch up with licensing pals and for us, a really fantastic place to bring partners together and talk about new collaborations. Where else can you start the day in a meeting about socks only to end it collaborating with a British fashion brand? Roll on 2024.”

Katie Rollings, chief licensing officer, Acamar Films

“The atmosphere felt quite celebratory and creative. With lockdowns and supply chain pressures, licensing has been through a lot and although there are still evident pressures on the industry, the feeling amongst those we met was one of optimism as well as, perhaps informed by the last few years, pragmatism. Those we spoke with are looking at how best to create products that will last well within a family and, especially on the toy front, those that offer longevity as well as elements that can grow with a child from older infancy to preschool.

“[The show highlight] for me it was meeting with a potential new partner who told us that a teacher at their child’s school had recommended Bing as a way for their child to find strategies for understanding and describing their emotions. It is always a bit of a thrill to hear how the property on which you work is making a real difference to families lives and I am so excited that we’ll be sharing more about the ways in which Bing helps children grow in the coming months with our brand campaign.”

Marianne James, vp EMEA and Asia, Licensed Consumer Products at Hasbro and Cat O’Brien, UK licensing director, Hasbro

“BLE was a massive success. The week was filled with impactful events and discussions. We began the week with our agent summit and continued the fun through our keynote where we got to showcase the best of our beloved brands. At our buzzing booth, we engaged in compelling conversations, while showcasing dazzling displays of our latest and greatest products.

“This BLE came jam-packed with high energy, fun, excitement, new news and fresh opportunities. This year’s show was even more electric, and we left feeling more inspired. We’re lucky to be part of this industry and have the job of bringing joy to kids, fans and families all over the world.

“It’s hard to pick just one highlight. Beyond hundreds of quality meetings with multiple partners across UK and Europe, we got to unveil major news that Orlando Bloom is joining Katy Perry as voice star in the Peppa Pig Wedding Party Special launching spring 2024. BLE was a success due to our incredibly talented team who continue to steadfastly show up as ONE, bringing a passion for our brands and genuine care and consideration for each other and our partners. The overall team effort is what we’re most proud of.

“Meanwhile, we’ve revealed brand new cross-category collaborations for our brands, including H&A, JoJo Maman Bébé, Peers Hardy Group, Bibado, HTI, Seabrooks, Luxury Nursery Company, Modern Cloth Nappies, Ravensburger, TOMY and Trends for Peppa Pig, as well as Hatstore, KOI, Mavi and Shirtstore for D&D. All-new Transformers collabs were announced as well with Character Options, Sambro, Rubie’s and Boti, along with some stunning new pieces from the upcoming Transformers x Irregular Choice collection. Ahead of an exciting year for the brand’s 40th anniversary, we showcased never-before-seen content and plans, including the exciting CG-animated Transformers One film. There were so many big moments at the show, making it one for the books.”

WalkerBLE

Pindy O’Brien, international licensing and market development director, Walker Books

It was great to be discussing new opportunities and brand collaborations with licensing folk from all over Europe. The show was definitely busier than last year. In particular, there were more licensees from Europe and retailers were there across all three days.  As well as updating our active licensees and retailers, we had many walk on’s from potential new licensees and retailers. There seemed to be a genuine willingness to commit to future deals and also to plan new business and activity.

“It was non-stop for Walker, we even had a group presentation about social media on our stand with our Guess licensees. The team was buzzing and the adrenaline was there throughout the three days. There were so many highlights. From a Walker perspective the quality of meetings for new business and activity was superb. We had so many compliments about our stand which definitely got us those extra walk ons. Looking around it was great to see the NSPCC there showing their characters and so many stands stood out. One of my favourites was The Wombles – that was definitely nostalgia for me.

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