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BLE 2019: Party’s branding boost

Anyone who’s anyone in the licensing trade will be heading to London’s ExCel next week (1 – 3 October) as Brand Licensing Europe (BLE) opens its doors for the 21st time. PPE takes a look at why Europe’s biggest licensing trade show is essential to the party trade.

Licensed product has been a cornerstone of the party, costume and Halloween industry for many years, helping to bring favourite characters and brands to life. As the only pan-European event dedicated to the international business of licensing and brand extension, BLE is the holy grail for all things licensed – from costumes and balloons to party favours and paper plates.

Now a well-established date on the licensing industry calendar (although this year’s show is a week or so earlier than usual), the three-day show attracts key industry players from all over Europe and beyond.

Last year, over 7,500 retailers, licensees and marketers spent time at the show, taking in the latest news from more than 260 different brand owners, licensors and licensing agents. This year, exhibitors are expected to display more than 2,500 new and evergreen properties available for licensing opportunities, including characters, brands, images, artwork and designs.

According to the 2018 Progressive Party retail barometer, licensed products continue to be a real boost throughout the party industry – they account for almost half of all balloon business (48%) an impressive 72% of dress-up and 42% of partyware and décor. There’s no doubt that it’s worth keeping on top of the upcoming film, television, book and online entertainment releases – just about anything character-driven that could culminate in licensed balloons, dress-up, and partyware.

Last year saw the power of licensed product continue to be a key driver for the industry, with sales of licensed costumes holding steady and even growing for a small proportion of respondents (11%).

In addition to the usual big names (such as Warner Bros, Disney and Nickelodeon) the show will also be host to a number of smaller licensors who look after some of the most important brands for the party industry.

“At BLE, we represent the entire licensing industry with brand owners showcasing character and entertainment, brands and lifestyle, and art, design and image licensing properties, so it’s the perfect place for party licensees and retailers to find the next big thing; the next product that will differentiate their offering to consumers,” said Anna Knight, vp, Global Licensing Group.

Considering what might be of particular interest to party retailers over the coming months, Anna also points out that the animation industry in Britain and Europe is particularly exciting right now. “It’s a real cluster of creativity and vibrancy with studios of all sizes producing inspired, innovative – and commercially viable – content,” she explains.

For more information about what you can see at this year’s show and to register for free entry, please visit

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