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BLE celebrates 20 years of licensing

Licensed product has been a cornerstone of the party, costume and Halloween industry for many years, bringing favourite characters to life for children and adults alike. As Brand Licensing Europe celebrates its 20th anniversary, PPE take a look at why Europe’s biggest licensing trade show is essential to the party trade.

Anyone who’s anyone in the licensing trade will be heading to London’s Olympia this autumn as Brand Licensing Europe (BLE) opens its doors for the 20th time. Taking place from 9 – 11 October, BLE is the holy grail for all things related to celebrating the product extension of popular brands and characters – and that, of course, includes costumes and other party products.

As the only pan-European event dedicated to the international business of licensing and brand extension, BLE is the definitive event for the licensing industry in Europe. Now a well-established date on the licensing industry calendar, the three-day show attracts key industry players from all over Europe.

Last year, over 7,500 retailers, licensees and marketers attended the show, taking in the latest news from more than 280 different 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 2017 Progressive Party retail barometer, licensed products continue to be a real boost throughout the party industry – it was named as the second-best boost to business over the last 12 months – so 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 more than a third of respondents, although they covered a much wider spread of properties than the spike of growth which has previously been seen with Frozen or Minions, for example.

So what’s in store for a party retailer or buyer at this year’s show? In addition to the usual big names (such as Warner Bros, Nickelodeon and eOne) there will be a host of smaller licensors who – while they not be so immediately recognisable – look after some of the most prevalent 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,” said Anna Knight, BLE brand director. “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.”

Considering what might be of particular interest to party retailers over the coming months, Anna also points out that the children’s category is particularly strong at the moment, saying; “There are lots of lovely characters celebrating anniversaries, which is always a nice way to refresh a product range. Elmer is 30 this year, The Beano is 80, Paddington is 60 and The Snowman turns 40. You can see them all at the show.”

So whether you are looking to learn more about the licensing industry, find out the latest trends or discover new brands to work with, Brand Licensing Europe is a must-attend event for everyone in the party product supply chain from brand creation to retailer shelf.

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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