Interview with Anna Knight, BLE Brand Director


How are registration numbers shaping up for this year’s event compared to previous iterations?

Really well, thank you. Last year was our biggest show to date with over 7,500 visitors (including 37% from outside the UK) and indications show that this year may well be even bigger.


What is there for toy and game industry attendees to look forward to this year?

There has always been a fantastic relationship between toys and licensing and BLE offers lots of content for toy retailers and licensees. Loads of brands on our exhibitors’ stands have toy category potential, particularly in the Character & Entertainment Zone, which is home to TV and movie studios like Viacom Nickelodeon, Warner Bros, Turner Cartoon Network and Universal and their incredible roster of children’s brands. We also have three massive toy companies at the show – Mattel, Hasbro and MGA – which is testament to the strong relationship between the two sectors.

Also, Hearts by Tiana will have its own dedicated stand, the first time an influencer brand has appeared as a standalone exhibitor; Women In Toys will be hosting drinks in the Brands & Lifestyle Bar at 4pm on Wednesday 10 October; and there’s a Playing with Brands panel and a fireside chat with Tech Will Save Us in our seminar programme.


How can visitors to the show best plan their days and make the most efficient use of their time?

I would say please, please make the most of the Matchmaking Service and the exhibitor list online, which will help you pinpoint exactly the right exhibitors for you. Check out the floorplan and plan your visit – find the best route for you and work that into your meeting schedule. Look at the seminar programme early doors and work your meetings around it so you don’t miss out. And use the website – there is lots and lots of guidance on there - - where visitors can download how to guides, case studies and a great handbook called ‘what is brand licensing?’.

Also – always wear flat shoes (men and women), you’ll be doing a lot of walking. Do bring water. Don’t bring a coat or suitcase if you possibly can avoid this – saves a trip to the cloakroom, or even worse, lugging them around between meetings.


BLE celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. How much has the show evolved since those early years, and can attendees and exhibitors look forward to any special celebrations?

My goodness, where to start? BLE has changed so much since we launched 20 years ago. We originally launched as Brand Licensing in 1999 - a small hotel-based event in London. We moved to the Business Design Centre, then to Earls Court and then to Olympia, which has been home ever since. In that time, we have become a well-established date on the licensing industry calendar attracting key industry players from all over Europe and the show was re-branded as Brand Licensing Europe in 2007 to reflect the international nature of its exhibitors, properties and visitors.

In the last 20 years, we have launched the License! This competition, the Licensing Academy and Brands & Lifestyle Seminar Theatre, Matchmaking Service, Product Showcase, Sports Pavilion, Gaming Activation … the list can go on.

We love the licensing industry and very much hope to be a part of it for another 20 years. And we are beyond grateful to the exhibitors, visitors, partners and sponsors who’ve made that possible for us. We will be celebrating by honouring those people who have been with BLE from the very start. We are also running a brilliant 20-day giveaway with amazing prizes provided by our exhibitors. Keep your eyes peeled on social media.


If there is anyone out there who has never been to BLE, but should have, how would you sum up the show and its importance to the licensing industry?

BLE is unique because it’s the one place every year where the European industry can come together to sound out new licenses, get a heads up on the brands that are going to be huge over the next 12 months, network with over 7,500 retailers, manufacturers and brand owners, and get up to speed with the key industry trends that will affect their business. There will be over 260 exhibitors, more than 2,500 brands and 7,500+ visitors in the halls this year. 


Anything else you’d like to add.

When it comes to networking within the European licensing industry, it’s safe to say BLE simply can’t be beaten either on or off the show floor. It’s certainly not all work and no play at the show. LIMA will be running their BLE After Party at KidZania at Westfield on the Wednesday evening; tickets are available from the LIMA website with members also getting a discount. Also, network on the show floor, and you sure to pick up insider knowledge on the many peripheral parties that happen throughout the week across London!

Secure your free ticket now for Brand Licensing Europe