BLE 09: The Reaction

Licensors, licensees and retailers give their verdict on this year's show.
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“The show had an air of excitement and movement. It was busier than last year on both days, with positive meetings across all brands. Judging from my meetings and people I spoke to, there was a clear increase of international attendees, which is brilliant for our business and a sure sign that BLE is growing and maturing into one of the must-attend shows in our industry.”
Angeles Blanco, Head of International Licensing, RDF Rights

"Attendance was definitely up on last year, both our Screening Suite presentations were sell outs, indeed we had to turn people away and our stand was continually busy right through to close on Thursday. Jessica Blue and her team should be congratulated on delivering on their commitment to securing an increased number of retail and overseas visitors, their presence was notable, not just in terms of sheer numbers but also the seniority of the attendees and their ability to make business decisions. It was great to see. BLE has definitely cemented its position as the must-attend show in the licensing calendar. We look forward to next year."
Paul Bufton, General Manager, Warner Bros Consumer Products UK

"The best Brand Licensing show to date in my opinion. It was evident by walking the aisles and the continuous traffic on our stand that numbers were up and we were encouraged to see such a significant turnout of retailers and overseas visitors. Olympia works as a venue; it's large enough to accommodate the show, while still feeling intimate and the additional space like the TV Lounge is a bonus. We would welcome a move to three days, as with back to back meetings we found the two-day format just isn't enough to fit in everyone we'd like to see. We very much look forward to returning to the show in 2010."
Alan Fenwick, VP, Turner CN Enterprises

“BLE was spot on for us. As a first time exhibitor, it fulfilled both objectives of raising awareness and bringing quality visitors to our stand. The venue works well with its high roof, spacious feel and natural daylight, which makes a massive difference to such an intense two day run of uninterrupted meetings. Considering the high amount of meetings we had to hold over two days and the number of overseas contacts/partners on the stand, three days would probably be better - if that doesn't push the space hire cost up.”
Michael Gottlieb, Head of Licensing, DCD Publishing

“We felt we were busier than last year. I think the show worked well. Advanstar have worked hard at pulling the threads of licensing together so there is a good mix of retailers, new licensees, existing licensees and press contacts. We had some excellent dialogue with new contacts and retail buyers, which is always welcome. We will definitely be there in 2010; I think it is a must do event.”
Ian Downes, MD, Start Licensing

"The show had a really good atmosphere and I think that is very positive considering the downturn within the industry due to the recession. I attended all of the major screenings and it gives you a real good feel of what is happening in the next few years. Play.com's agenda will be supporting the properties that complement our business."
Anne-Marie Farrar, Category Manager, Toys, Gadgets & Film Memorabilia, Play.com

"This year we came as a Mothercare team which worked well, with both Clothing and Toys attending key meetings together. It is very difficult to fit everything into two days, I believe that three days or two and a half would be better. The show seemed very busy especially on the first day. The Retail Lounge proved very useful and provided somewhere for the team to catch up on information and prepare for meetings."
Emma Baker, Senior Buyer, Mothercare

"I attended mainly as a top up from the June show in Las Vegas. The benefit was also that it allows more of the team to attend the meetings together and plan on a cross category level. We really enjoyed the show and found it easy to navigate."
Claire Marsh, Buyer Kids Essentials, Sainsbury's

“There was a good positive atmosphere around the show and it was great to see so many people there. People seemed ready to do business. While the show was very busy, two days still works well for us. It makes for a more focused show, which ultimately provides us with more results.”
Ben Jackson, Brand Licensing Executive, NMSI Trading

“For Chorion, the show was as busy as last year and the mood was buoyant, with everyone willing to do business. I was also struck by the number of retailers attending the show who were all very keen to develop ongoing relationships across all product categories. Most certainly we will be back next year, the venue still works and the ambience was very positive.”
Mel Humberstone-Garley, UK Territory Manager, Chorion

“Traffic felt about the same, but there was a high quality of international visitors, more so than last year. We enjoyed the venue and will definitely be back again next year. There was a strong retail attendance and an improvement in Europe attendance.”
Val Fry, Director of Licensing, Chapman Entertainment

"The show was very positive for us. It's hit on a formula that works."
Lisa Shapiro, MD, TLC Entertainment

“There was an excellent buzz around the show and I was very impressed with how busy it was; it was very worthwhile attending. I feel that it should be extended for a further day. I would like to attend some of the seminars, but due to the number of showcases and appointments which I had, I found it hard to schedule them into my itinerary.”
Alison Pilgrim, Senior Licensing & Brand Development Manager, Golden Bear

“There was a real buzz and a genuinely positive feel to the show. The people we spoke to this year were undoubtedly more interested in doing business and more open to ideas and discussion. There was a very high level of footfall traffic. European attendance was better than last year and there seemed to be more than in Vegas.”
Rob Wijeratna, Joint MD, Rocket Licensing

“The show was incredibly buoyant; there was a great buzz. People were there to sign deals and take licences, not just kick tyres. The quality of the visitors was fantastic and the venue was perfect. There was a strong mixture of licensors, licensees and retailers from right across Europe. The EU visitors I spoke to confirmed that they now view BLE as the key licensing show of the year because Las Vegas is so difficult for them to get to. I do think it should be a three-day show. In fact, I have felt that way for the last ten years.”
Janet Woodward, Head of Licensing, Coolabi

"I thought the show was excellent; the aisles were bustling and certainly my diary was full from when the doors opened to when they shut. The show is always about the people, the brands, networking, meeting with retailers, but this year there was a bigger buzz."
Kirsty Guthrie, MD, KJG

“I thought it was busier this year. The visitors were of a great quality and variation. But two days is just enough. If people stay organised and efficient it is ample time to do what needs doing.”
David Ball, MD, Performance Brands

“I thought Wednesday in particular was a great day; what all good exhibitions should be like, lots of activity and busy stands. Just a great buzz about the place. One of the best BLE days I can remember.”
David Scott, MD, Rainbow Productions

“The show seemed much busier than last year, especially on Wednesday morning – you couldn’t move near the entrance of Olympia. It was a great opportunity to catch up with the licensors since Vegas and I think it works well in its current two-day format. Perhaps a third day would be too much, however it would give you more time to attend the various seminars.”
Darrell Jones, Marketing Manager, Bandai

"Overall the show was very busy and had a real atmosphere. Licensee meetings for the sales team were primarily deal-focused rather than general catch ups. This was a real deal making show for Nickelodeon. It's a significant show that we hope to be part of in the future. It's important for us to support our industry and have an active presence. A full third day might be a bridge too far, however, as the show grows perhaps the screenings could be given a separate day."
Clare Piggott, VP Licensing, Nickelodeon UK

“We had a fantastic fair. The quality of visitors was great and we had a lot of very interesting walk-ons too. We will be back in 2010. I would like to see a three day show, but with the last day ending earlier to maintain the momentum to the end of the day.”
Katie Foster, Brand & Licensing Director Europe, LazyTown

"I thought that the show was brilliant. You could see by the huge increase in attendees (particularly retailers) that Advanstar had done a great marketing job since the last show. There was a real buzz in the hall with people writing deals on both days. As a licensee, it is definitely an essential event to attend. My only concern is that the show is too short."
Trevor Jones, Licensing Director, Danilo

"A fairly lively show this time and definitely worth attending. Now that the US show has moved to Vegas I think a lot of Europeans are giving that a miss and doing this show instead. The Interactive Zone was great, it was good to see the show pushing forward with this growing genre. Absolutely it should be three days. There were a few stands that I walked past, but did not have time to properly investigate and the Toy Store was also missed. We need this show to be longer as it genuinely seems bigger and busier than ever before."
Max Arguile, Licensing Manager, GB Eye

“I enjoyed the show very much and the event remains a useful forum to discuss current and future properties. It’s a great place to network and meet with licensors under one roof. As a licensee, I would prefer a three-day show as it would give us more quality time with major licensors and time to look around at some licences which may not have been on the radar. The proliferation of screenings in recent years has really eatn into time previously alloted for meetings.”
Phil Ratcliffe, Sales & Marketing Director, MV Sports

“The show was an enormous success. The most notable increase came from the number of retailers and international clients we met. There wasn't a single quiet moment on the stand and a third day would have given us an opportunity to meet with even more companies. One of the great things about BLE is that it’s an inclusive show from very small agencies right through to the very largest. My concern with making the show three days is that it might preclude some of the smaller companies from attending. The cost would be inevitably higher and some companies might struggle to justify both this and the amount of time out of the office where resources might be scarce.”
Rob Corney, MD, Bulldog Licensing

“The show was certainly busy and the whole team was rushed off their feet. BLE is a key show for 4Kids and the chance to meet with all our EMEA partners under one roof. We are certainly happy with the venue and will always have a presence at the show. Buyers are also beginning to realise that BLE is a must-attend event and a very worthwhile day out of the office. 4Kids has always championed for a three day show and I think the traffic levels prove that this would be well attended.”
Victoria Charles, Senior Marketing & Communications Manager, EMEA, 4Kids

“It was definitely worthwhile exhibiting and, with the market as it is, absolutely essential. The retail attendance was particularly good and European attendance was also very high. I think a three-day event could work better, it would give us more time to spend with people and make everything a bit less intense. Given that it's such a big investment, three days may also make it more cost effective.”
Mark Hurry, Legal & Commercial Director, PPC Enterprises

"We were overwhelmed at how well our products were received and how busy the show was for both days. We have exhibited at fashion trade shows before where the majority of clients visit on the first day and then the rest of the show is quiet, so it was great to see a good attendance for both days. As a new studio, it was really worthwhile us exhibiting. Nowhere else within Europe would we have been able to launch our artwork on a large scale in front of such a high profile audience."
Edward Weale, Business Director, Lemon Ribbon

"We went to the show to raise awareness of the Royal Opera House brands - the Royal Ballet in particular - and to communicate they were available for licensing. We weren't sure what type of response we would get, but were very pleasantly surprised and had some very high quality interest which we are eagerly following up on. I'm pretty sure we will be returning next year."
Gwyneth Campling, Licensing Manager, Royal Opera House Enterprises

"BLE is a window to the world of this exciting and driving industry. As first time exhibitors with a new and unique product, we attracted a great deal of interest across the full spectrum of branding and licensing opportunities. We have already signed up for next year."
Tristan-Sean McGee, MD, Hari Books

"The experience was good. Most of our agents were attending, in addiiton to potential European licensees. I think three days would be more comfortable for our schedule."
Damian Quennery, Business & Legal Affairs Manager/Merchandising, The Smurfs

"For us it was considerably busier than last year, especially on day two. The quality of visitors was better. The Grand Hall works really well for us and, based on our experience this year, it does seem to have been a very worthwhile event and we have already committed to a stand for 2010."
Lauren Sizeland, Head of Business Development & Licensing, V&A

"A great vehicle for networking, catching up with friends and colleagues and seeing what else is going on. For Hallmark, we have some great existing relationships and a desire to broaden our licensed offer so a really good venue and show."
David Wootliff, Licensing Director, Hallmark

"Overall I had an extremely positive show; I thought there was a great buzz this year. I think the format is working very well. Yes, when you have back to back meetings it seems like you could do with more time and it might be tempting for the organisers to extend the show, but I would say it is working as it is, so why change."
Patrick Bailey, Commercial Director, Blues Clothing

"There was a real pick up of European clients, possibly a hangover from the Vegas show which saw a number of European partners stay away. I think London will see another uplift next year."
Darren Garnham, Kidz Entertainment

"I was impressed by the amount of visitors who were outside the norm of retail and licensees. This presented new avenues for marketing and building brand presence. I think a three-day event would be better; so much is going on there and it's just before Mipcom so it's a very busy time for everyone."
Vicki Willden-Lebrech, Director, The Bright Group

"Not only did there appear to be a larger number of retailers attending, but also the number of individuals from the respective companies seemed to be higher than in previous years. The European contingent also seemed on the up - anything to do with the switch of Licensing International to Vegas perhaps?"
Richard Radford, Roy Lowe & Sons

"Our stand was so busy we had to order two additional tables and eight more chairs. We felt the visitors were almost entirely of good quality. It was undoubtedly worthwhile exhibiting and we will exhibit next year. BLE has become an essential market for us."
Lisa Hryniewicz, Rainbow Spa

"I can't complain about the quality of people I met or the amount of appropriate business discussions we had. In the sense of a no-frills, business-focused experience the show had a lot to recommend it. Unfortunately, the lack of frills extended to comfort and catering, both of which were very disappointing."
Caroline Mickler, MD, Caroline Mickler Ltd

"Three days is an option but could dilute the attendance per day. Moving the show to a mid-year slot would enhance its reputation as Europe's all encompassing one stop licensing show and also fill the void left by moving the US show 2,000 or 3,000 miles further away from Europe."
Martin Lowe, MD, Roy Lowe & Sons

"I think retailers are finally realising it is a show which is worth their while. The venue works very well and the organisation was great again. The two days is intense and I think the show now has the momentum to support three days. My only bugbear is the regular screenings - this sucks visitors out of the show. Exhibitors pay the same amount per square metre, so I think the organisers should rethink this service."
Maggy Harris, Licensing Director, Ignition Licensing

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