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“Licensing for Retail is as much about creating connections as it is about learning”

Organised by Informa Markets’ Global Licensing Group in partnership with Licensing International, Licensing for Retail (19 April, Convene, London) is a new conference that will bring together over 100 of the UK’s biggest retailers, including Sainsbury’s, M&S and Dunelm, to inspire them about the potential of brand licensing.

Informa Markets’ head of retail Laura Freedman-Dagg talks through what to expect on the day, from trend presentations to networking opportunities, and how licensing can give retailers the edge by “tapping into the emotional connections we all have”.

LauraFD500x500What was the thinking behind the setting up of the Licensing for Retail conference?

My role is centred on engaging with retailers so they have the best possible experience with our brands. That requires an element of education, but because licensing is such a relationship-centred business it was important for us to create a learning opportunity that also allowed for making quality connections. We want to present licensing as a discipline to our growing retail audience and this works much better when licensors and licensees are in the room, hence the makeup of this event: 60% retail and 40% licensing pros.

What will attendees get out of the event?

Retailers will get a tangible sense of the potential opportunities that exist for them with licensing. We will showcase the breadth of the opportunity with trend sessions and consumer insight from a panel chaired by Retail Week’s editor in chief Charlotte Hardie. They’ll also hear about individual IP through dynamic speed pitches – Caroline Mickler will showcase six of her brilliant clients: The Beatles, Toxic Waste Hazardously Sour Candy, Horrid Henry, Molang, The Masked Singer and several Stanley Kubrick movies. In addition, attendees will learn about licensing driving purpose from Kingston Myles at English Heritage.

I’m grateful to the Licensing Chose Me panel chaired by The Point 1888’s Will Stewart who will be joined by Harris McQueen from Outerstuff and Ruth Golightly from Blues Nightwear – they’ll be talking the audience through their careers to share the brilliant opportunities for those who specialise in licensing. It’s exciting to be able to share the human side of the business alongside commercial aspects. The panel will be available to answer questions in the networking break immediately after their session and I’m expecting them to be popular guests.

What makes Informa Markets the natural provider of an event like this?

As organisers of BLE we have great relationships within the industry and access to huge amounts of new data. We also work closely with Licensing International. If the demand is there for a new event, we’re perfectly geared up to deliver it. France Licensing Day, which just launched in Paris, is another good example of this. We understand asking people to leave their desks for a full day is no small thing, so we have spent a lot of time talking to the market and fine-tuning Licensing for Retail Day. It’s designed with retail at the forefront and the format of the day reflects that. I feel very fortunate that we can introduce the retail audience we’ve been building to so many leaders from the world of licensing, and Informa’s existing network has been key to that.

We also have resources dedicated to working with retail all year round thanks to initiatives like the Retail Mentoring Programme, which has been led by Keith Pashley for 13 years. This initiative ensures we’re building new retail contacts every year so we can be confident we deliver a qualified and engaged audience.

Laura and the team at Informa Markets have resources dedicated to working with retail all year round, with initiatives including the Retail Mentoring Programme.
Laura and the team at Informa Markets have resources dedicated to working with retail all year round, with initiatives including the Retail Mentoring Programme.

What are the major challenges facing retail, and how can licensing help mitigate them?

The challenges facing retail right now are many and complex, with everything from a cost-of-living crisis and increasing customer uncertainty to closures by several well-loved brands. However, there’s a lot to be optimistic about. We’re positioning licensing as a way to supercharge your product mix and really delight your customers by tapping into the emotional connections we all have. We’ll provide insight into the future of retail in a session hosted by Warren Parker-Mills (BetterStores) and Russell Singler (Metagallery) where they’ll explore ways retailers can capitalise on brand experiences in more personalised and interactive ways. The experts we have lined up to speak will have plenty more to say on this, I’m sure.

What has the interest/take-up for the conference been like so far? Is the retail industry getting behind it?

From a retail perspective we’ve been blown away. The free retail tickets are at capacity now with a great mix across categories and seniority. Many of the retailers attending will be completely new to licensing and we’re also delighted to welcome past BLE attendees and graduates of the Retail Mentoring Programme who are keen to develop their licensing networks.

I’m also pleased with the non-retail names on the delegate list. Top licensors will be rubbing shoulders with a brilliant range of licensees and some of the leading service providers in the industry. We’re seeing real enthusiasm which I think is a reflection of how important relationship-building is – and how it never stops.

After retailers have absorbed all the information on the day, what should they do next? Is there anyone they can reach out to for extra support?

The retailers who attend will have direct access to me and the BLE team for guidance whenever they need it. They’ll also receive Licensing International membership and priority access to events we run in the future. A select few will be invited to join the BLE team at the B&LLAs, too. This is a community we’re already nurturing and so, while the year for the UK peaks at BLE, we’re in touch all year round.

Is there anything else you’d like to say that we haven’t covered?

Yes, don’t wait to buy your tickets – bookings close on 12 April or when we reach capacity. I’d love to see as many parts of the industry represented as possible so that the retailers we’ve invited can get a proper taste of the licensing industry. This event is as much about creating connections as it is about learning, and everyone is welcome.

Licensing for Retail will take place on 19 April at Convene, 22 Bishopsgate, London. Click here for more information.

Retail tickets – free while stocks last.

Licensee, licensor, agent and service provider tickets – £175 for full day or £85 for networking only.

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