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‘There’s a consistent buzz across the show now’

This year has seen a sea-change for BLE, says Anna Knight, but there’s even more to come in 2019.

Brand Licensing Europe opened the doors on its 20th show yesterday (October 9), with brand director Anna Knight telling The Source that it has been the best she’s seen it in the three years she has been working on the show.

“It’s incredibly busy; we haven’t lost the buzz since 9am,” Anna (pictured) enthused. “It’s great to see it all on one floor for the first time; that has definitely been a sea-change. Seeing people walk through with ease and find everything; everywhere is busy from the get-go.

“With a show like this, the zoning and the matching of the right type of visitor to the right exhibitor, is what’s really important. When you take it to one floor, you want to make sure people still know who is in which hall, so they have the appropriate meetings and they meet the appropriate people.

“We put a lot of work into the Brands & Lifestyle and Art & Design zones in particular to make sure there’s enough happening within it to drive the footfall.”

Anna explained that the zones are reflective of what’s going on in the industry at the moment. She said: “Character & Entertainment is still thriving and there’s lots of things happening there and lots of success stories.

“There is also consolidation, but at the same time there are a lot of new players coming in, so you’re seeing a lot more of the smaller, up and coming companies that you can see all around the show, lot of the video games companies, and Brands & Lifestyle in particular is where we’ve seen the exponential growth this year in the show, and you can see it when you walk around. There are so many more exhibitors in the zone, loads of big brands, people have really invested in the stands.

“It’s just buzzing – I don’t know if I’ve ever seen these two zones this busy.

A new product showcase is also acting as a “really beautiful transition” from one world into the other, says Anna, with a lot of people from the Character side coming through to gain inspiration.

“I haven’t felt a buzz like this in the three years [I’ve been working on the show]. There’s a consistent buzz across the show floor and that was the aim. Every stand being busy and seemingly doing business, which you want from a show like this.”

And to anyone who is concerned that the buzz will be lost following next year’s move to ExCeL, Anna had this to say: “Some people were concerned with the show going onto one floor, and I think we’ve successfully shown that this was a good move. For me, there are a multitude of reasons why we’ve decided to move the show, but the one I’ve talked about the most is the experience – it’s about a transformational experience and about really making people want to come to the show, do business at the show. Through visitor attractions, through schemes to bring more retailers in, bringing it to life, we’ve got the space and flexibility to do that.

“I really want people to just trust us – we love this brand, we know this brand really well now and we’ve improved it every single year, and I don’t think that is disputable. It’s about a serious sea-change now and that’s what we’ll be doing.”

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