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‘The cultural sector is a growing opportunity’

Penguin Ventures’ Jen Greenway reports back from the ACE annual conference in Edinburgh.

The Penguin Ventures team have just returned from the ACE annual conference in Edinburgh, where we took a trade show stand for the first time. The Association for Cultural Enterprises (ACE) consists of Members and Associate members who are passionate about their work in the cultural and heritage sector. The conference is an opportunity for delegates to come together and hear from colleagues across the sector on current topics common to all institutions.

We’ve always found the industry to be very welcoming and sharing in ideas, with a view to promoting and supporting the industry as a whole. As associate members, Penguin Ventures has attended the conference for a number of years and have previously hosted a seminar on licensing the Ladybird brand.

This year we decided to be part of the trade show in order to showcase our publishing, licensing and archive endeavours. As owners of original artwork by Beatrix Potter and Cicely Mary Barker, as well as an extensive collection of original Ladybird artwork, dating back over 100 years, our archives are managed to museum standards by Penguin Ventures commercial curator Sara Glenn.

It has always been important that our collections are accessible to all and we have an active exhibition programme enabling the public to view these national treasures at a variety of temporary exhibitions around the UK and abroad. However, we realised that perhaps the sector is less aware of the wide range of licensed product associated with these collections and the opportunities for bespoke duel branded merchandise available.


ACE reported to have experienced the busiest ever convention with over 300 delegates and 75 trade show exhibitors. We went with a hunch that we might find some new partners to work with and I’m pleased to report that we absolutely did. We had a fantastic couple of days at the Edinburgh Corn Exchange and a brilliant reaction to our stand which featured the new Enesco Flower Fairies range of homewares, as well as Ladybird mugs from Designed in Colour, games from The Lagoon Group and gifts from The Wooden Postcard Company.

Retail managers were particularly interested in the bespoke product offering we are able to deliver via King & Mcgaw, which has access to all the Ladybird artwork for print and paper products, but also duel branded and special editions of our books via the Penguin Partnerships team. There was an overriding ambition from museums and galleries to offer a point of difference when it comes to product, coupled with a desire to promote and use own branding where possible, but overall tailored ranges in-keeping with a museum core theme were popular.

Following a warm reception last week at ACE and the number of new contacts we’ve made, we intend to exhibit again next year at the show.

As the custodians of such important and influential heritage brands we very much see the cultural sector as a growing business opportunity for Penguin Ventures, and compatible with our aim to promote our authors and illustrators beyond the book.

Jen Greenway is category manager for softlines at Penguin Ventures. She can be contacted by clicking here. For Penguin Partnership enquires, you can contact Gemma Jennings by click here.

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