CENTRAL & EASTERN EUROPE SPECIAL: LF-CEE - Licensing.biz

CENTRAL & EASTERN EUROPE SPECIAL: LF-CEE

As the industry gets ready to head to Prague this weekend, Licensing.biz finds out more about the event from Christine Annechino of organisers Licensing Brands International...
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“It’s certainly a good time to have a show in an emerging market,” Christine Annechino from Licensing Brands International, the organiser of Licensing Forum – CEE, explains to Licensing.biz.

Annechino’s statement seems to be backed up by the numbers, too. In 2008, 20 companies exhibited at LF-CEE; this year, there will be 30 (click here for a full show preview). When it comes to attendee figures though, Annechino says that, while they are expecting more than last year, they have never gauged the visitors on quantity, but rather on quality.

The 2009 event – which is the fifth time the show has been held – runs on March 16th and 17th at the Marriott Hotel in Prague. A number of changes have taken place, the move to Prague being one of them, as Annechino explains.

“By bringing the show to Prague, we are reaching out to more potential attendees and, therefore, growing the show and helping licensors and agents educate the market about licensing and merchandising. LF-CEE has always been marketed as a CEE show, and that is why we made the decision to move to a different country each year. We have received an excellent response to this plan.”

Licensing Brands International has also hired a PR firm based in Prague to boost media coverage of the two-day show, while additions to the event itself include a Screening Theatre – where entertainment firms can show trailers of new movies, TV shows and animation - and an evening dinner cruise around Prague. Taking place after the first day of the show, it will include dinner, drinks and entertainment.

The CEE market has been one of the strongest growth areas for licensing over the past couple of years, but with the economic environment looking decidedly different in 2009, will people still be making the trip? Annechino says they should as it is more vital than ever to be seen at networking gatherings such as this.

“LF-CEE exhibitors are forward thinking companies who know the importance of promoting their properties and growing their businesses in emerging markets, even in these tough economic times,” she says. “The licensing companies who are making the investment now in CEE will be the ones who prosper. The ones who sit on the sidelines, waiting for the global economy to improve before they take any initiative will be years behind in the CEE market.

“Exhibiting at LF-CEE is the most cost effective way to promote your properties and products to licensees, retailers and promotional partners. Where else can you reach so many potential CEE business partners under one roof over two days?”

And, while the CEE market may not be growing at the same rate as it was enjoying recently, Annechino says there is still growth there. “With 400 million consumers, the CEE market is a natural for all US and European licensors. Western Europe, the US, Japan and other ‘mature’ markets do not offer the growth potential that CEE offers, nor the proximity to the world’s leading property owners.”

March 2010 will see LF-CEE move to Budapest, with Annechino’s aim being to continue attracting existing licensees, plus manufacturers, FMCG companies and retailers which could greatly enhance their business with licensed properties. And as the TV market continues to grow throughout the region, broadcasters are also on her hit list.

“People should be attending LF-CEE so they can make new contacts and do new business. Again, the companies who retrench during this tough time will be the companies that miss out on the opportunity to establish their leadership positions in the market,” Annechino concludes.

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FEATURE: Central Eastern promise

Now in its fourth year, Licensing Forum-CEE is growing year-on-year as more and more companies move into the territories. And with a potential audience of over 400 million consumers, you can see the attraction. Samantha Loveday speaks to Christine Annechino from organiser Licensing Brands International to find out more...

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