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the giftware association




Introduction, please introduce yourselves and your roles at Brand Licensing Europe 

Ella Haynes – event director, and Ben Roberts – content director.  

For someone who is new to the world of branding and licensing, what can you tell us?  

Ella: Brand licensing is when well-known brands – in giftware, this could be English Heritage or the V&A, for example – partner with manufacturers and retailers to create and sell products that consumers will love and buy.  

Brands shape who we are, what we do, and how we feel. From the clothes we wear and the food we eat, to the mugs we drink our tea from and the blankets we curl under to watch TV, leveraging a beloved brand is one of the most valuable ways for brands, manufacturers and retailers to connect with consumers and drive sustainable business growth.  

There are lots of benefits to brand licensing – it can extend a brand into new categories, areas of a store, or even new retailers and territories entirely. It lets brands expand their fan bases and enter new business categories without significant investment in new manufacturing processes. It allows retailers and manufacturers to stand out from the competition and offer consumers the hottest brands. Connecting a powerful brand to an in-demand product can boost sales and drive additional revenue for everyone involved.  


What’s more, we know that brand licensing works because industry trade association Licensing International has just valued the global licensing industry at more than $350 billion, a yearly uplift of 4.5 per cent.  


And what is Brand Licensing Europe? 


Ella: Brand Licensing Europe (BLE) is Europe’s only event for licensing and brand extension. It takes place at ExCeL in London from 24-26 September 2024 and is the number one opportunity for retailers and manufacturers to discover and meet the world’s biggest, most creative and most disruptive brands and have conversations that may kickstart the creation of the next slate of consumer products that fans will adore.   

 Why should giftware manufacturers and retailers visit BLE?  

Ella: Retailers and manufacturers come to BLE to meet the people behind brands they want to work with. The show lets them discover new innovations and IP from all over the world – IP that can help them grow their consumer base and business in their domestic markets as well as expand globally.   

Over 200 exhibiting companies will be at BLE in September, representing thousands of brands, many of which are of interest to giftware manufacturers and retailers, including Peter Rabbit, The Gruffalo, Natural History Museum, Kellogg’s, The Royal Pavilion at Brighton and many, many more.  

BLE is packed with inspiration – from products on the show floor to insights in the conference theatre. And, of course, there are many networking opportunities, too, which can be so powerful in kick-starting new ideas and partnerships.  

And why should a brand exhibit at BLE? 
Ella: The main attraction for exhibitors is the quality of retailers and manufacturers we bring to the show for them to hold meetings with. My one message is, ‘don’t underestimate the value of using our Event Planner for the meetings, matchmaking and concierge services’. It will help you find visitors with shared business interests and goals to maximise your return on time and investment.  

 What areas of the show are new to this year? 

Ella: Watch out for lots of inspiring brand-led areas and experiences that will be announcing shortly.  

What trends have you seen in the licensing world over the last few years? 

Ben: Today, brand licensing brings the emotional connection between buyer and brand to life through authentic, innovative, and creative consumer products or experiences. This is a far cry from the logo-slapping of bygone eras, and it’s no longer a case of linear licensing (so, movie to toy or book to movie). The brand licensing landscape is now a complex tapestry of opportunities that allows for brands to engage with audiences (new and old) wherever they are, be it gaming, fashion, sports and beyond. That’s a sea change that has been hugely important for the industry and we see it now with every fan-driven launch that hits shelves.  

What news or celebration do you have that we can share with our audiences, any big licenses celebrating big anniversary / special deals 

Ben: There are lots of big licenses celebrating anniversaries. Our sister title License Global keeps a running tally so be sure to check it out. We’re especially excited about SpongeBob SquarePants, Powerpuff Girls, Neopets, Beyblade and The Gruffalo because they are all celebrating their 25th anniversaries – and so are we.  

BLE 2024 will be a celebration of the European licensing community and not just the show; a retrospective on how the industry has evolved, and a celebration of the individuals, companies and brands all over Europe that have evolved with the show. We will be hosting a birthday party on the first night so add that to your calendar now!  


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Keywords: Trade, Licensing, Awards

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