B&LIS & SiLC unite to create two-day licensing conference in June

Two leading European licensing conferences are uniting this summer with the aim of providing business leaders and decision makers with action-oriented, thought-provoking content on the future of the licensing industry and create a critical moment in the diary to enable knowledge sharing and networking.

Brand & Licensing Innovation Summit Europe (B&LIS), organised by Informa Markets, the team behind Brand Licensing Europe, and the Sustainability in Licensing Conference (SiLC), presented by Products of Change, will make their in-person debuts on 21 and 22 June (respectively) at London’s Royal Geographical Society following successful virtual programmes in 2021 attended by hundreds of international delegates.

B&LIS will kick-off the two-day conference on 21 June and will spotlight retail and future trends through interactive panel discussions as it tackles next-gen topics such as NFTs, the Metaverse, the ever-changing content landscape, breakthrough licensing categories and how to maximise opportunities at retail.

The following day, SiLC will bring sustainability to the fore on 22 June, deep-diving into crucial issues such as sustainable supply chains, driving social change through entertainment, leading brands, retail treatment and best practice from licensees and suppliers, showcasing what is required of business to be ‘future fit’.

The resulting event is set to be a critical date in the diary for global leaders and decision-makers from the world of brands and consumer products to enjoy panel discussions, live Q&As and roundtables, as well as a lively networking reception on both evenings to build new connections in-person.

“B&LIS and SiLC share the same ethos: a desire to deliver genuinely thought-provoking, action-led content that has the power to challenge leaders and drive positive and profitable decision-making in relation to everything from product development and distribution to consumer engagement and commerce,” says Anna Knight, VP of licensing, Informa Markets. “Uniting the two events means we can create a key moment in the summer when European licensing leaders can connect, learn and share, while also saving on time and travel.”

Amplifying Anna’s belief, Helena Mansell-Stopher, Founder and CEO at Products of Change, adds: “Never before has our industry needed to transition at the scale that is required to achieve the 2030 and 2050 Global Goals. This transition provides both an opportunity to create the future of how the industry operates, as well as commercially benefiting business. SiLC will bring visibility of new solutions, discuss how to implement and showcase new future technologies to lead the industry to a profitable and sustainable future.”

B&LIS one-day tickets are priced at £275 and can be purchased from Brand &Licensing Innovation Summit Europe.  SiLC tickets one-day tickets are priced at £275 and can be purchased from Sustainability in Licensing Conference. POC and Licensing International members can enjoy a 20% discount on these rates (non-cumulative). Alternatively, two-day tickets can be purchased from either site for the discounted rate of £525.

Character World to continue sustainability drive in 2022 and beyond

Leading manufacturer and distributor of licensed home textiles and accessories Character World has reaffirmed its commitment to sustainability in 2022 and beyond. 

For the past two years the company has been working on and delivering against its sustainability plans, looking at all aspects from product to packaging, shipping to consumer care.

Adam Howarth, Character World’s Supply Chain Director, says: We believe that a good night’s sleep doesn’t have to cost the earth. Sustainability is not just something that we have approached from a single angle or for a single range, we are looking at it across the whole business… We know that this is an ongoing project and a journey that will continue to develop and evolve in collaboration with our partners.”

Some key changes that Character World has made start with the products themselves. The company now uses only responsibly sourced BCI cotton, plus it is offering retailers the option of recycled polyester for their polyester and polycotton bedding products.

Character World’s latest development, Coverless Carefree Bedding, uses recycled plastic bottles for the filling, helping to reduce plastic waste and the subsequent amount of plastic in our oceans.

The company has also collaborated with Lego and JYSK for sustainable packaging options. The packaging for the Lego City bedding was developed using recycled card, is fully recyclable and contains no single-use plastic.

Mark Champkins, Learning Lead, LEL Sustainability Transformation at Lego, says: “Character World has been proactive in supporting us to work toward our aim that by 2025 all LEGO packaging will be made from renewable or recycled materials and will be easy for consumers to recycle, to avoid it ending up in landfill. We look forward to continue working with Character World towards our 2025 goal.”

In addition, Character World is committed to driving post-consumer purchase developments via its partnership with WRAP, who make it easy for customers to easily find their local recycling banks.

The company is also proud to be a member of Products of Change and one of the sponsors of the Sustainability in Licensing Conference, and is working within the licensing community to drive sustainable change by championing ideas and best practices across the industry.

“Character World is committed to helping make the world better for future generations, and we look forward to working in partnership with suppliers, licensors, retailers and consumers on the journey,” concludes Adam Howarth.



Zuru Toys details plans to make all Five Surprise products from recycled plastics

Zuru Toys has revealed plans to make its two largest global brands under the Five Surprise banner – Mini Brands and Mini Toys – 100 per cent virgin plastic free.

Its latest stride in the company’s ongoing mission for better sustainability measures and a reduction of its own carbon footprint on the planet, the global toy maker has today confirmed that it will be introducing 100 per cent certified, traceable recycled plastic across the brands.

The announcement was made during last week’s Sustainability in Licensing Conference, an online event focusing on the sustainability developments and measures of some of the world’s leading brands names and retailers.

Speaking at the conference, Zuru’s co-founder and CEO, detailed the company’s move to implement new sustainability measures across its leading Five Surprise brands: Five Surprise Mini Brands, and Five Surprise Mini Toys, the number one and number five toy brands in the US markets, respectively.

The move will prevent an estimated 180 tonnes of virgin plastics from entering the environment and will match the recent environmental moves made across its wildly popular Bunch O Balloons brand. Combined, the latest measures will prevent around 3,000 tonnes of virgin plastics from entering the environment.

“Sustainability is a big passion of mine, and is crucial to the longevity and prosperity of all companies,” said Anna Mowbray, CEO and co-founder of Zuru Toys. “It’s not only important to me in business, but also as the parent of young children who are growing up to inherit all that lay down.

“Bunch O Balloons had been our biggest transition towards sustainability within our products to date, but I am super excited to announce our most recent initiative in this space, introducing measures to make every single unit across our Five Surprise brands entirely from certified, traceable recycled plastic.”

Zuru Toys has taken the sustainability message to the next level in recent months with the first roll out of its ‘summer just got greener’ campaign for its leading seasonal product, Bunch O Balloons, highlighting the company’s move to more sustainable production methods by using 100 per cent certified and traceable recycled plastics to make its stems and caps.

The company also switched its balloon pieces to be made from natural rubber (derived from plants).

The original goal was to remove 500 tonnes of virgin plastics from entering the environment, but Zuru subsequently doubled the number of its original target this summer season.

Mowbray added: “Our goals for the future are mapped out across manufacturing, packaging, product, and the supply chain, and include key components such as making our packaging across all ranges 100 per cent recyclable, transitioning three major brands to 100 per cent recycled plastic and packaging, and all of this we want to do by 2025.”

SILC21 | The Insights Family: “Kids are becoming leaders in sustainable consumption”

Children’s consumption habits are changing and a new generation of consumers are looking to become leaders in shopping sustainably, is the message to emerge from day one of two of this week’s Sustainability in Licensing Conference.

An opening presentation given by The Insights Family’s chief product officer, Jonathan Watson, highlighted that today’s children will be the next leaders in sustainability, and that it was the responsibility of the kids’ entertainment industry to “empower them to do so.”

The two day Sustainability in Licensing Conference (SILC21) kicked off on Thursday, June 24th with a line up of representatives and change makers from across industries, including those from The Eden Project, Tesco, and George at Asda among others, each showcasing the latest developments in the nationwide (and global) drive for better sustainability practices within the business of consumer products.

The session was opened with a presentation from the insights and family intelligence specialist, The Insight Family who offered a deep dive into the most recent data from across the global markets on the children’s and family sector’s relationship with the topic of environmentalism and sustainability.

Key to the presentation were findings around children’s growing understanding of the sustainability conversation, highlighting that it was now a global concern for kids aged six to 12, and that this was filtering down to spending habits today.

Currently over 45 per cent of children aged six to 18 in the UK say they would spend more on something that is environmentally friendly or sustainable. At the same time, youngsters are engaging with the topic far more actively across social media platforms such as Twtich and Discord as they seek out like-minded individuals to talk about the topics.

“Far from being passive observers, kids are thinking about their purchases more than ever, and becoming leaders in sustainable consumption,” said Watson. “Many are now willing to pay an increased price, showing how building sustainability into your business can not only result in increased brand advocacy and financial growth, but can save the planet along the way.”

The discussion spanned the topics of food consumption – the environment is now a major consideration for 22 per cent of UK children’s food choices – to the removal of children’s magazines containing plastic throw-away toys from Waitrose.

“Data has shown that 32 per cent of parents who shop at Waitrose say the environment is their biggest concern. That’s twice as many as the average,” explained Watson. “They are more likely to be the parents teaching their kids about their actions and the environment.

“Likewise, we asked kids why they purchase a magazine. The number that say it’s for the free toy on the front has been reducing over the last few quarters. However, it is still the number one reason for their choice.”

This will be a conflict that many brands in the children’s magazine sector will have to negotiate over the next few years.

Watson concluded: “Making sustainability easier for kids, teens and parents to understand is imperative. It’s important to be empathetic, practical and inclusive of parents so that consumers feel like they are empowered.

“Kids want to make a change, and we need to make it easier for them to do this.”

The Sustainability in Licensing Conference will continue today with speakers from ZURU Toys and LEGO taking to the stage among others.

Sustainability in Licensing | Toy industry sustainability needs ‘relentless innovation’, says ZURU

Sustainability in the toy industry will not be achieved in one move, but through ‘consistent and incremental improvements’, as well as relentless innovation, is the message being promoted by the international toy maker, ZURU, ahead of the Sustainability in Licensing Conference this week.

Speaking with ToyNews before the online conference kicks off on June 24th, Amelia Jory, global marketing manager for seasonal, preschool, and celebrations at ZURU, has intoned that when it comes to sustainability within the toy industry, it’s an area ‘in which there is a lot to learn and implement.’

ZURU Toys has taken the sustainability message to the next level in recent months with the first roll out of its ‘summer just got greener’ campaign for its leading seasonal product, Bunch O Balloons, highlighting the company’s move to more sustainable production methods by using 100 per cent certified and traceable recycled plastics to make its stems and caps. The company also switched its balloon pieces to be made from natural rubber (derived from plants).

The company’s original goal was to remove 500 tonnes of virgin plastics from entering the environment. ZURU has subsequently doubled the number of its original target this summer season.

“We have begun on our path towards products and innovations that have a lesser impact on our environment by approaching our business with a vision of preparing for the future – the world in which children will one day live and play,” said Jory. “We view sustainability as a commitment, to leave this world better than when we were brought into it.

“Sustainability is an area in which there is a lot to learn and implement. There isn’t just one single thing that needs to change and it will have fixed or combated the climate crisis. We believe sustainability is about consistent and incremental improvements and being relentless about innovating to ensure we are moving towards a greener and more sustainable future.”

Jory suggests that the social conscience of the firm has grown in tandem with the social conscience of society and is a company fuelled by the passions of its team to adopt and implement new steps towards the sustainability movement.

“We are constantly looking at how we can incorporate sustainable practices into our business, products and future lines of toys and consumer goods,” said Jory. “Our key sustainability leaders in the business will be speaking at the SILC event; including myself and our CEO; Anna Mowbray, Global Marketing Director; Henry Gordon; Seasonal Marketing manager and Head of product; Aneisha Vieria.

“We believe that sustainability is a collective effort that starts internally and is fostered as a part of organisational culture which leads to greater external initiatives and impacts.”

New targets have now been set by the firm in the continued journey towards better sustainability, but these won’t be revealed until the Sustainability in Licensing Conference this week.

SILC21 has been recognised as a platform for leading players in the toy and licensing industry to share key insights into what has worked for them on their own sustainability journeys.

“For such an important and time sensitive topic, it’s important we all share insights and collaborate to achieve the common goal of better our planet. Sustainability is no longer a ‘nice to have’ initiative rather, one that is absolutely crucial to the future of our environment and business,” concluded Jory.

Sustainability in Licensing Conference confirms its return for 2021

The Sustainability in Licensing Conference has confirmed its return for 2021 with plans to take place at The British Library in London while dual-cast digitally across the SILC21 digital platform.

Breaking new ground in the licensing industry when it launched last year, the 2021 edition of the conference is scheduled to take place on June 24 this year. The event is once again aimed at everyone in the licensing arena, from retailers to licensors, licensees to trade suppliers.

Launched by Max Publishing along with Products of Change (the online membership platform for sustainable advancement within the industry) and curated by Helena Mansell-Stopher – an experienced licensing executive and founder of Products of Change, SILC 2021 will aim to inspire and inform as to how the sector can continue to innovate and grow commercially while not costing the planet.

The agenda will see leading lights and visionaries from outside and within the industry as well as retail experts, all sharing their inspiring achievements and demonstrating the gains, both environmentally and financially, that can be made.

“It has been amazing to learn of the businesses that were inspired by the speakers last year and have since implemented those learnings into actionable sustainable change, and it’s because of this I am extremely proud to curate the 2021 line up,” said Mansell-Stopher.

“To drive sustainable growth within the licensing industry over the next few decades will require a radical approach to business practices, be it through embracing new materials and production techniques, re-engineering packaging or adopting new marketing methods, all without sacrificing financial growth. Our aim with SILC 2021 is to help both future-proof our industry and our world.”

Already, a number of leading companies have pledged their official support to SILC 2021, underlining their commitment to change within the industry, including BBC Studios, Warner Bros. Consumer Products, Natural History Museum, ViacomCBS, Hasbro, Character World, TDP Textiles, Dreamtex, Amscan and GB Eye with more due to be announced in the coming weeks.

Products of Change is the headline supporter of SILC 2021.

SILC 2020: LEGO’s dream to be “a playground of prototyping sustainable alternatives” for licensing partners

The LEGO Group has outlined its plans to bring its sustainable efforts into the firm’s wider LEGO licensing business through an overhaul of its product development and packaging, and to be a “playground of prototyping sustainable alternatives for its portfolio of licensing partners.”

Speaking at the first Sustainability in Licensing Conference this week, LEGO’s licensing sustainability transformation lead, Sine Klitgaard Moller, said that while its core toy offering is developed to be ‘hand-me-down’ or heirloom toy range, the company is aware that the ethos doesn’t necessarily apply to its extended licensed product portfolio.

The mission statement that the LEGO licensing division has now issued is to eliminate single use plastic completely and make all of its licensed products and extended lines sustainable by targeting packaging and other elements of production over the coming years.

Over the next year – from 2021 to 2022 – the LEGO Group will begin to transform all of its plastic packaging into paper packaging, starting with the five types of packaging that make the biggest difference to the environment.

“Our focus, for now, is first of all educating ourselves,” said Klitgaard Moller during a conference slot dedicated to sustainability in the toy industry. “We are also going to transform and help our licensing partners with the packaging challenge.

“I am personally very excited to learn about new materials and the journey that will challenge me to think about licensed products in new ways. It is important that designers and manufacturers join us on this journey, too.”

While the global coronavirus pandemic has thrown its many hardships at industries across the board and across the globe, it’s also expedited a number of social trends, not least the mass move towards online shopping. This move has been earmarked by LEGO as a potential avenue through which to re-think its product packaging.

Klitgaard Moller, said: “With Covid-19 pushing consumers hard into online shopping, suddenly packaging facings aren’t so important. This means we are now given the space to explore new ways of introducing sustainability to the packaging we use.

“By 2030 we want to see a clear path to a planet that is more in balance with consumption. The tools we are creating to educate ourselves, we are sharing with our licensing partners and are trying to make them as simple as possible.

“We are really good at making building instructions for complicated LEGO sets for children to understand, so we are trying to break sustainability and demands down for that single person sitting in their packaging and manufacturing office to help them make better design choices, too.

“We in LEGO Licensing would really like to function as that playground for sustainability, where we can prototype with big and small partners, big and small ideas and show children that we want to do something now, that we are truly listening and are taking action,” she concluded.

Sustainability in Licensing Conference to be an all virtual event taking place this November

The inaugural Sustainability in Licensing Conference is to be staged as a virtual two-day event taking place this November 24th to 25th, with a line up featuring never-seen-before research and findings from across the manufacturing and retailing landscape.

SILC 2020 will be the first event of its kind and promises to deliver a full agenda of inspiring and insightful keynote speeches, panel discussions, and research findings from a vast array of experts, retailers, and visionaries all focused on helping everyone in the licensing community to drive sustainable growth.

In a line-up curated by the conference director, Helena Mansell-Stopher, SILC speakers will include leaders from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Tesco, Asda, Marks and Spencer, Teemil Tech/Rapanui Clothing, Retail Economics, Central Saint Martins, Breakdown Plastics, Wastebusters, Kids Insights and the R&A Sustainable Sporting Events.

Mansell-Stopher said: “While all our personal and business lives continue to be disrupted by Covid-19, by taking SILC onto a digital platform means that we can all continue on our sustainable journey. The commitment we have engendered in SILC, as evidenced by the fabulous line-up of speakers and official supporters, highlights the collective drive for change on the sustainable front while also being aware of the commercial realities.”

James George, network development lead at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation will explain why the circular economy is integral to sustainable growth within the licensing sector, while Martin Drake-Knight, the Co-founder of Rapanui Clothing and Teemil Tech will share how this British entrepreneurial business forged a sustainable fashion revolution with its ‘give back’ scheme.

Meanwhile, on the retail front, Jessica Palalagi, Head of Resource Management at Marks and Spencer will reveal details of its ‘Plan A’; Joe Little, Head of Technical, Fabric, Colour, Sustainability and Technology at F&F, Tesco will share the progress of F&F’s sustainable journey, and Jade Snart, Senior Sustainability Manager George at Asda will reveal the great strides the grocer has made on the environmental front.

Providing some real punch on the commercial side, Richard Lim, Chief Executive Officer of Retail Economics will be demystifying how to unlock sustainable finance.

Click here for the full agenda and speaker information.

The digital format of the conference replaces the physical event that was due to take place at the British Library in London on November 25.

Using the respected Hubilo digital platform, not only will attendees be able to watch the presentations in real time on the 24-25 November, but they can also request video meetings with speakers and other attendees in the afternoons on those days, as well as use a chat function to network with other delegates.

The Conference programme of talks will also be run in its entirety on Thursday 26 November for attendees to view and all presentations will be fully accessible by them until Sunday 29 November.

The cost of attending SILC 2020 is £95 (+VAT) per delegate. Bookings can be made by clicking here.

A great number of leading companies have already pledged their official support to SILC 2020, underlining their commitment to change within the industry.

The Products of Change group is the headline supporter of SILC 2020 while the official supporters include Amscan, BBC Studios, Brandgenuity, Change Plastic for Good, Character World, Discovery, Dreamtex, GB eye, Global Brands Group, Hasbro, MDR Brand Management, Natural History Museum, Smiffys, TDP Textiles, Those Licensing People, University of Oxford, ViacomCBS, and Warner Bros. Consumer Products.

For any more details on booking SILC 2020 contact Clare Hollick of Createvents on clare@createvents.co.uk or 01183 340085.