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“We can’t wait to be back at ExCeL”

With just over two months to go until Brand Licensing Europe, LicensingSource catches up with Anna Knight, vp licensing at Informa Markets, to find out how the show is shaping up.

It’s just over two months till we’re back at ExCeL for BLE – how are you feeling about it?

I know, can you believe it? Time really does fly. But it’s going really well. We can’t wait to be back at ExCeL seeing actual real-life faces, and watching people meet, network, share a drink and a laugh again. For many people, BLE will be the first time in over two years that they’ve met other industry execs in-person. It’s a huge deal.

Of course, we have The Licensing Awards next week, too. I have a feeling we’re all going to get a little overexcited next Tuesday – you should be sending us home with free paracetamol and a bacon roll.

So, what’s new with BLE since we last spoke?

So much. The exhibitor list is looking really healthy and, since we last spoke, we’ve had another tranche of companies sign up including Manchester City, Fashion UK, Global Trademark Licensing, Kate Mawdsley, Withit Studios, Olympique de Marseille, Tactic Games, Start Licensing, Imperial War Museum, Sinigaglia, Princess Sam, Tesa Scribos, Asmodee, ZSL (London Zoo), FOO Entertainment and Toncar.

It’s great to know that we’ll have loads of European content on the floor. Registrations have been steady, too, even though we’ve only really soft-launched and we’re not expecting the majority of attendees to sign up until two to four weeks out.

There’s a nice split between UK and Europe and we have some really strong names including Asda, Bandai UK, Bioworld,, CIJEP, Claire’s Accessories, Clementoni SPA, Egmont, Funko, Hallmark, Hornby Hobbies, Kinnerton Confectionery, Marks & Spencer, Nutmeg Morrisons, Panini France & Italy, PEZ, Royal Mail, Rubies, Sainsbury’s, Stradivarius, The Entertainer and Vue International.

We know the theme is What’s next… what else can you share at this stage?

So, all of that content is really starting to come together. Sustainability is a huge element of our What’s Next theme and there’s no way you’ll miss our Innovation in Sustainability Activation that we’re building in collaboration with Helena Mansell-Stopher and Products of Change. It’s 220m2 and will include product showcases, spotlights on fashion, material and retail innovation, Products of Change clinics and a couple of other surprises we’ll reveal shortly.

I can confirm the Retail Trends Lounge will return as part of What’s Next for Retail with loads of content exclusively for our retail visitors including spotlights on D&I, sustainability and product innovation. Our Retail Mentoring Programme has broken records this year with 84 participants, and we opened it up to European retailers for the first time, too. Under Who’s Next, attendees will be able to ‘meet’ our Agents of Change in our show entrances – more to come on that in early October.

You already know what’s new with License This!, which will have three award categories including a new category focused on product innovation in partnership with Mojo Nation. Licensing U from Licensing International is also brand new, and all of that content will go live for three months the week after BLE in-person. We will have two amazing (it pains me that I can’t tell you who they are just yet) keynotes also too. Honestly, they are going to be awesome.

And, in the coming weeks, we’ll be able to tell you more about networking drinks and events, the character parade, retail sessions, sustainability content, some very special Light Fund charity initiatives and, of course, those keynotes.

Brand Licensing Europe 2021 runs from 17-19 November at London’s ExCeL. You can find out more details – and register to attend – by clicking on this link.

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