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WELCOME The home of market leading trade magazines

The home of market leading trade magazines The home of market leading trade magazines The home of market leading trade magazines March/April 2013

The home of exhibitions The home of exhibitions The home of exhibitions The home of exhibitions

The home of market leading trade awards The home of market leading trade awards The home of market leading trade awards The home of market leading trade awards

Max Publishing Ltd, United House, North Road, London N7 9DP T: 020 7700 6740 F: 020 7607 6411

Welcome to the Party January is always a difficult time of year. It’s cold, everyone’s broke and half your customers are doing Dry January. So really, it’s the perfect time to sit back and reflect on the previous 12 months – in addition to making life-changing resolutions to be a better person in one way or another, the start of a new year is the perfect opportunity to take stock of things in business as well. Was there one big party craze to sweep the nation? What sold well or not so well? What difficulties did we face – both Above: Progressive Party Europe’s Rob Willis and Jacqui Parr. as an industry and individually – and how did we overcome them? And, crucially, what can be improved as we move into 2018? For the eighth year in a row, we’ve picked your brains and crunched the resulting numbers accordingly, answering all these questions and more, giving the most accurate snapshot possible of how the party industry fared in 2017. As ever, it’s been fascinating from start to finish, with retailers reporting fortunes and failures in equal measures. It should come as no real surprise to anyone on the front line of retail to hear that 2017 has been a tough year and this is reflected in the figures, with only 13% of independent party retailers reporting that their sales had grown over the last year. In fact, many retailers spoke openly and honestly about how close they have come to closing their doors for good – it seems that we have an unexpectedly strong Christmas and New Year to thank for keeping some of our most established bricks and mortar independents up and running. However, those same independent retailers are fighting back wherever possible. All respondents reported that they have increased their use of social media, engaging with potential customers wherever possible and taking advantage of the free marketing available to them with just a few taps of their keyboard. In product terms, balloons were widely hailed as the saviour of many businesses, sitting comfortably at the top spot in terms of retailers’ best-selling product areas. For more analysis and to see the information in greater detail, turn to page 21 of this issue – it makes for some very interesting reading! The next stage, after taking stock of last year’s results, is to consider the best way to make 2018 as successful as possible. Writing this on the journey home from the H&P Expo in New Orleans, we have renewed faith in the not-so-humble trade show. Often considered to be running a little flat by some, the Expo surpassed the expectations of the retailers and exhibitors we spoke to. Organisers Urban Expositions pulled out all the stops to ensure that this year’s show was both wellattended and relevant and their hard work was more than rewarded. Is it strange that we’re already looking forward to next year? (Although we could have done without the 26-hour delay to our journey home...) So the next few weeks have a lot to live up to in terms of expectations. Spielwarenmesse is the first up, with Hall 9 playing host to over 250 party and carnival companies. The European show has become increasingly important to the party trade over the last few years, with suppliers and distributors making the trip over with increasing regularity. Almost immediately afterwards we’ll be heading over to Spring Fair for the best part of a week. With a different exhibitor portfolio, it’s well worth heading over to Hall 5 – the new home of The Party Show – to see what’s on offer. But don’t forget, plenty of relevent companies can also be found remaining in Hall 3, so make sure you keep a note of the stand numbers mentioned in this issue. A number of exclusive launches have already been announced and we’re excited to see how they will be received in real life. PPE will be walking the halls at all these shows, so do stop us for a chat – there’s not much we like more than a good gossip! Jacqui Parr – Editor @Prog_Party_Eu

ISSN 2058 797X

Rob Willis – Publishing Director


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What’s inside: JAN/FEB 2018






Read all about it - it’s the latest news from the party world.


John Bowler shares his words of wisdom.


2017 year in review.


2017 reviewed in anecdotes, and some facts


Show preview 2018


Review live from New Orleans


Ready to roll in 2018

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Show preview, Nuremberg 2018

EUROPEAN NEW PRODUCTS European suppliers latest


There’s a gap before Halloween, you see


The latest licensed loveliness.

THE ROYAL WEDDING At least it’s not another birth.


Read this tome to make sure you’re ready


What’s been ringing the tills in recent months


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NEW FOR 2018

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see us at:

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Nuremburg, Germany 31st January - 4th February 2018

Birmingham, UK 4th-8th February 2018

Hall 9, Stand F50

Hall 5, Stand 5J104

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© 2018. All rights reserved. HATCHIMALS™ trademark of Spin Master Ltd., used under license.




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NEWS UPDATE Looking Back To Plan Forward Back again for the eighth consecutive year, Progressive Party Europe is delighted to be able to bring you the full results of the Party Retail Survey, our exclusive end-of-year report. Once again, we've picked your brains and crunched the resulting numbers accordingly, giving a snapshot of the party industry in 2017. It's been an eye-opening process, with retailers speaking openly and honestly about how the past year has been for them – and for many of them, how close they have come to closing their doors for good. It will come as no real surprise to anyone on the front line of retail to hear it confirmed that 2017 was a tough year. This has been

reflected in the figures, with only 13% of independent party retailers reporting that their sales had grown over the last year. However, independent retailers don't take these things laying down and are fighting back wherever possible. A full 100% of respondents reported that they have increased their use of social media, engaging with potential customers wherever possible and taking advantage of one of the only things you really can get for free in this day and age. Staying online, the area where retailers saw the most positive effect across their business this year was in developing websites to help drive traffic and sales to the shop. This was closely followed by

Creative Party Celebrates 65 Years

Thanks for Your Help! Congratulations to Chris Pallot from Express Yourself in Southampton and Kate Moore of Jolly Jesters in Derbyshire, who each won a £25 John Lewis voucher, delivered courtesy of Progressive Party Europe. The winners were drawn at random from the hundreds of retailers who took the time to complete our annual party industry survey. PPE would like to thank everyone who took part for your help – we (really!) couldn't do it without you.

The 2017 Christmas Retail Report Christmas 2017 was a challenging seasonal period for many UK retailers, with heavy snow and Black Friday sales getting the season off to a slow start while the continued reliance in online shopping saw many shoppers choosing to avoid the high street altogether. However, the last few days before big event season saw shoppers finding their feet and getting into the Christmas spirit. While a number of key high street retailers (including M&S and Debenhams) reported a disappointing drop in sales, others (such as Tesco, Sainsbury's and John Lewis) have posted far more positive results, indicating that shoppers were still out there and spending money.

Partyware and balloon company Creative Party is celebrating 65 years in business this year. The company was originally known as Anniversary House and has since split into two brands, Anniversary House Cake Decorations and Creative Party. From its admittedly humble beginnings, the family-owned, British-run company now employs over 40 people and exports its fun, fashionable product to an impressive 42 different countries. “We would like to thank each and every one of you for all your support and custom over the past 65 years,” says chairman Mike Forder. “Here’s to 65 more!” Creative Party will be at Spring Fair in February, on the Cardgains Village stand in Hall 3 (L10 – M11). Cardgains will be hosting a Village Casino, with roulette table and prizes such as money off vouchers for show orders.

Julie Palmer, a retail expert at Begbies Traynor, said retailers of all sizes had faced a particularly disappointing few weeks of trading in early December. “The increasingly frantic promotional and discounting activity we are seeing this week across the high street is simply not having the same effect on consumers as it once did,” she said. “UK shoppers are savvier than ever and prepared to search

online for the best deals, having grown wise to the gimmicks and discounts on offer in store, which many now realise may not be as good as they first appear.” Inset: Christmas shopping got off to a slow start thanks to snowy weather.

Above: Balloons – and rose gold decor – were key to the party retail business in 2017

Spring Fair Announces New Venue For The Party Show Spring Fair, the UK’s leading retail trade show, has announced a new venue for The Party Show, which will be making the move to Hall 5, joining the Children’s Gifts & Toys sector. Taking place at Birmingham’s NEC from Sunday 3 – Thursday 8 February, the new location of The Party Show has been designed to provide buyers with a smoother shopping experience. “In the face of a challenging economic and political climate, people simply want to find a way to have fun and celebrate the good times in their lives with loved ones,” says event director Alison Graham. “The party sector at Spring Fair will package that up in an easily shoppable format for retailers and party planners so they can source items from suppliers that do not exhibit at any other trade shows in the UK.” For more information please visit

New Harry Potter Dress-Up Record A new world record has been set by a school in Australia, for the largest number of people dressed up as Harry Potter. The record attempt took place at the West Byford Primary School in Western Australia, as part of the 20th anniversary of The Sorcerer’s stone. Parents, pupils and teachers were invited to come in wearing the Hogwarts school uniform, glasses, a wand and a fake scar in order to become official record holders. The successful attempt saw 997 people gathering together to set the new world record for the largest number of people dressed as Harry Potter in one place. Previous champions from the UK had held the record of 676 since June 2017.

For the latest news visit

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the boost given by licensed product and films (the Star Wars effect?). Balloons retained their position at the top spot in terms of retailers’ best-selling product areas, while Halloween and Book Week were the top key occasions for the costume industry. Despite this, Halloween was widely considered a disappointment with 67% of respondents reporting that their business had decreased. It's been a challenging year across UK retail and it's clear that this is reflected in the party sector, with retailers rightly concerned about the rise of internet retailing and ongoing Brexit uncertainty. Turn to page 21 for the full and complete results and analysis of Progressive Party's 2017 Retail Barometer.



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Party City Acquires MG Novelty US party and costume retailer Party City has acquired MG Novelty Corporation, which includes seven retail stores under the name ‘Party Galaxy’ in the Oklahoma City area. The leading retailer and party goods company bought the MG Novelty business – which reported total annual sales of approximately $9million in 2016 – for approximately $5.5million. MG Novelty was founded in 1937 as a decoration and carnival supply company and changed

Angels Open Day 2018 After making its successful debut last year, Angels Open Day will be returning for 2018. The series of open days will once again be held at Angels' iconic Hendon premises as the family devoted to fancy dress continues to meet the needs of an ever-developing industry. Taking place from 25 – 26 March, Angels will be opening its doors to specialist retail buyers, offering show-only deals alongside the fabulous opportunity to take a tour of the world-famous Angels Costumes which supplies costumes to the stars of film, TV and theatre. Visitors will be able to view new fancy dress lines from Rasta Imposta and InCharacter Costumes as well as special FX and make-up lines from Tinsley Transfers. Costume suppliers Leg Avenue, MorphCostumes, OppoSuits, Bristol Novelty, Palmer Agencies and Fun Shack will also be at the Open Days, taking advantage of the opportunity to showcase their new lines. "Last year's event was a great success, we met some lovely people and were able to showcase our Rasta Imposta, Tinsley Transfers and InCharacter ranges in an informal and friendly space,” says Emma Angel, director of Angels Fancy Dress, "We are really looking forward to hosting Angels Open Days again this year with even more suppliers, exciting developments and a tour of our famous costume warehouse. It is sure to be a great event which we would like to invite everyone to attend, we look forward to seeing you all there!" Attending the event is free. Simply register by emailing or calling +44 (0) 20 8732 8879.

its name to Party Galaxy in 2001 before eventually expanding to 11 locations. It also had a five-year supply agreement with Party City’s parent company Amscan that gave it favourable pricing and trade terms, although this expired in 2012. “This immediately accretive acquisition provides us the opportunity to enter the new market of Oklahoma City as we continue to grow our retail square footage and expand our customer base,” said James Harrison, Party City’s chief executive officer.

BAPIA Dresses GOSH Christmas Party Members of the Balloon and Party Industry Alliance came together to give their time to decorate the venue for the Great Ormond Street Hospital Christmas parties as it organised the decorations for the Great Ormond Street Hospital children’s Christmas parties for the fifth year running.

The 30-strong team battled against the snowy elements to get to the venue on Saturday 11 December in order to create the outstanding decorations which would set the scene for the celebrations. John Bowler, BAPIA chairman, thanked the team, saying: “#GOSH2017 what a great day again! I must say a special thank you to all of those who entered the draw this year and to those who were lucky enough to be picked. Your support and enthusiasm is inspiring and without you it would not happen. Thank you all very much!” The event was further supported by Qualatex, Amscan, BOC and Premium Balloon Accessories. Left: décor designs were created by BAPIA members Chris Horne, Tatiana Kempinski, Sheena Timmins, Samuel Stamp-Dod and Sue Bowler.

Above left: Party City stores operate under the names Party City and Halloween City.

Rasta Imposta Tree Goes Viral The popular Christmas tree costume from Rasta Imposta has gone viral after an American student tweeted herself wearing it to college as part of a self-imposed dare. Kelsey Hall, who goes to the University of Alabama, sent out a joke tweet on 2 December, with a picture of herself in the festive costume saying that she'd wear it for the res of the school year if she got 1,000 retweets. Kelsey's tweet was far more popular than she anticipated and ended up with 35,000 retweets and 58,000 likes. As promised, she then wore the costume until the end of the semester and become a reluctant celebrity on campus with people taking their picture with her and sharing it online. The self-imposed costume challenge made international news, with interviews and features from the UK to Australia.

The Nuremberg Party Focus As the largest toy fair in the world, over 70,000 visitors will be heading to the Nuremberg Exhibition Center in Germany to check out some 2,800 exhibitors across 13+ product halls. Taking place 31 January to 4 February, the party, carnival and festive articles section of the show (Hall 9) is becoming more important each year – with 250 party and costume companies showcasing their latest lines for the coming year. This year, for the first time, the show will be taking place across five days instead of six. According to ceo of Spielwarenmese, Ernst Kick; “We are sending out a clear signal that is fully in tune with the needs of our customers, as we are aware of the pressures on both time and budgets.” For more information, see

Weddings To Get Royal Boost Everyone loves a good oldfashioned wedding, and royal weddings are even more popular than most, giving the whole country a good reason to celebrate.

For the latest news visit

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“With customers’ continued preference to shop this category instore, the acquisition of Party Galaxy is a very attractive use of

capital and allows us to leverage the Party City brand name, assortment, store experience as well as vertical model for the benefit of customers and shareholders,” he continued. Party City’s retail operations include over 900 specialty retail party supply stores (including approximately 150 franchise stores) throughout North America, as well as e-commerce websites such as

The retail-boosting effect is particularly welcome in the party industry, but what's even more interesting is the influence a significant wedding has on the popularity of marriage in general. Design-led tableware and décor company Neviti is predicting more weddings this year which

it believes should boost sales of wedding lines this year. “There was a dramatic increase in the number of weddings taking place between 2010 and 2012,” points out director Tracy Cooper, “thanks in part to William and Kate's wedding. We expect to see a similar boost later this year.”



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Premier Decorations’ MD Is Awarded OBE John Athwal, managing director of leading Christmas supplier Premier Decorations, was honoured as Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the Queen’s 2018 News Year’s Honours list for his services to business and charity. John was recognised for his outstanding contribution to the British economy thanks to his thriving business, which has twice appeared in the Sunday Times Profit track for the fastest growing profitable companies. Named Asian of the Year in 2010, John is also renowned for his philanthropy, committing

Balloon Legend Feels The Force Balloon legend Dr Bob has made national news headlines after he created a Darth Vader sculpture from balloons for a customer’s 40th birthday. Award-winning balloon modelling expert Bob Armstrong – who also presents on the Balloon Market YouTube channel – was commissioned by a woman who wanted to present her husband with a memorable gift in time for the much-anticipated release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. “She wanted me to be able to make a Darth Vader,” Bob explained. “I rose to the challenge as I think anything is possible. She was overwhelmed with it. He was gobsmacked!” The black and silver Darth Vader sculpture ended up standing 7ft 8” tall and was made of more than 580 balloons. Below: The sculpture took almost nine hours to complete and came complete with a light sabre.

time and money to a number of charitable organisations such as the Make a Wish Foundation, The Fence Club and the Children with Cancer charity. “Receiving an OBE in the Queen’s 2018 New Years Honours list is a fantastic tribute and I am overwhelmed to have been recognised and nominated by colleagues and

peers,” commented John. This year, Premier Decorations will celebrate its 30th anniversary, while John marks his own 65th birthday.

Smiffys Roadshow Dates Revealed Costume and party expert Smiffys has announced the dates for its annual roadshow, which will be visiting five key destinations around the UK. The Smiffys Roadshow Experience will see the company hitting the road with over 250 new lines which have been introduced exclusively for 2018. “Retailers who come along to the Smiffys Experience will be at the front of the queue to see our brand new cosmetics ranges and fabulous accessories,” says managing director Dominique Peckett. “Come to see us at a city near you to get an exclusive first look at our new costumes, wigs and accessories.” Retailers who place orders at the roadshows will be able to benefit from 10% off all Halloween orders as well as a whole range of other exclusive special show-only offers. Dates and locations are: South West (21 – 22 January), Dublin (18 – 19 February), Manchester (4 – 5 March), Gatwick (11 – 12 March), Scotland (18 – 19 March). Retailers are encouraged to book their places in advance. Call your Smiffys customer service advisor on 0800 590 599 or email to confirm your attendance.

Correction Karnival Costumes ( is a manufacturer and supplier of fancy dress costumes. The company is keen to emphasise that it is in no way associated with Rochford-based retailer, Karnival House Ltd, trading as Karnival Costumes and via website, following a news item in PPE’s November 2017 issue. Richard Mawer, director at Karnival Costumes comments; “As a company we have taken every legal step to ensure that our company name and brand does not infringe the rights of others. As we continue our worldwide growth, we feel confident that the market is very clear that we are a major global supplier and have no retail side to our business."

H&P Expo 2018 Is Runaway Success The party and Halloween industry’s biggest trade show H&P Expo 2018 has been a runaway success, with both buyers and exhibitors proclaiming it to be their best show in recent years. The show got off to a strong start on Friday 12 January with the doors opening to a packed hall at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans as exhibitors pulled out all the stops to ensure that buyers and retailers would have plenty to keep them engaged and entertained. Visitor numbers were up as the debut co-location of HAuNTcon drove cross-over traffic to both exhibitions, giving everyone an opportunity to benefit from the significant overlap in business. “This is the place to be if you’re in the party, the Halloween or the celebration world,” says Liz Irving, marketing director at Urban Expositions, show organiser. “This is the place for the best product launches, new trends and the best networking in the states.” Next year’s show will be taking place from 25 – 27 January 2019. Find out more at and see PPE's full preview on page 44.

For the latest news visit

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Below: John Athwal remains an ever-present figure in the company, supporting his staff and guiding the company strategy.

MoonGlow Rebrands As Moon Creations Face paint and make-up brand MoonGlow has rebranded itself as Moon Creations and will be launching the new-look company at both Nuremberg Toy Fair and Spring Fair. “Moon Glow has undergone a huge transformation to become what is now our parent brand Moon Creations,” said sales manager Cameron Martin. “We chose the new name to help company organisation and aid in customer understanding.” The new name was chosen as the company believed that Moon Creations best described it as it is, ‘creator of new inventive products’. Moon Creations has been segmented into a further four sectors to organise the products. Cosmic Moon (a metallic range), Moon Glitter (glitter products), Moon Glow (neon, UV and glow in the dark products) and Moon Terror (a newly-expanded Halloween range).

Jokers Corner To Close Landmark fancy dress retailer Jokers Corner in Great Yarmouth is set to close after almost 50 years in business. Owner George Czykieta will be selling off more than 5,000 outfits and props, offering everything from tinsel wigs and jokes to make-up and accessories. George says the shop had given him a good living and plenty of laughs over the last five decades, but that the time was right to call it a day. He attributed the drop in sales to changing holiday and shopping habits which had seen custom fall away along with more competition and less demand, dealing his business a double blow. George’s fashion graduate daughter Sharlene and son Darty will continue running the shop until the stock has been sold. Below: Jokers Corner has been a stand-out business for almost half a century.



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Qualatex Launches Breakthrough Chrome Balloons Right: The range launches in 11” and 260Q sizes and will be available from 1 February.

Pioneer Europe is launching an exciting new range of Qualatex balloons which will be on show at both Nuremberg Toy Fair and Spring Fair. The patent-pending Chrome balloons are latex balloons created using breakthrough technology, achieving ‘A New Kind of Shine'. The Chrome Balloons are available in a range of six different colours, mauve, green, blue, purple, silver and gold. “This is more than another series of balloon colours — the

HIA’s International Halloween Show Is Success Organiser of the International Halloween Show 2017, the Halloween Industry Association (HIA), has described the show as ‘another successful year’. The 13th International Halloween Show took place in New York from Monday 4 December to Thursday 7 December 2017, across two key locations – The Halloween Tower at 1115 Broadway in New York and 230 Fifth Avenue in New York. “It’s been 13 years since the International Halloween Show first began in the heart of New York City, and the show is still going strong,” the HIA reported in its January newsletter. “Buyers got their first look as to the 2018 product lines featuring new and innovative costumes, accessories, decor and more from over fifty exhibitors! Meetings were held, industry contacts were connected and millions of dollars in sales were made in just that week-long period.” See for more information on the 2018 International Halloween Show.

line is truly a breakthrough product and not just because of the visual impact,” said Dan Flynn, chief operating officer of Pioneer Balloon Company in Wichita, KS, USA. “We encourage all our customers to see and work with them to appreciate just how innovative and different they are.” In addition to their signature shine, Chrome balloons have a greater helium retention than other latex balloons and offer greater value to balloon decorators and their

Right: Rey costumes from Rubie’s.

Paradise Jam 2018 Dates Announced

The Last Jedi Fulfils Destiny

Star Wars: The Last Jedi has taken £76.7 million at the UK box office and $1.3 billion worldwide, making it 2017's biggest movie. The latest instalment of the Star Wars saga – which opened in the UK on Friday (December 14) – is the widest ever cinema release in the UK, according to Disney. Opening in over 700 sites, the film also enjoyed the biggest opening of the year and the third biggest opening weekend of all time. Party products are expected to be in high demand, with dress-up, balloons and partyware from Pioneer Europe, Qualatex and Rubie’s all predicted to be big sellers throughout 2018. As the official costume licensor, Rubie’s released a collection of outfits ahead of the film release, with a deluxe Rey costume available in both child and adult versions. Pioneer Europe also launched a number of new lines including a new Light Side and Dark Side Bubble balloon, along with latex balloon retail packs and a partyware range.

UK Pub Banned Festive Fancy Dress A UK pub landlord banned fancy dress and festive wear for the Christmas season as part of a drive to keep out groups of rowdy drinkers. People wearing Christmas jumpers, sexy Santa outfits, elf costumes, Harry Potter outfits and other fancy dress were not allowed into three Hull-based pubs Lion & Key, WM Hawkes and Walters after 8pm. Alan Murphy says his regulars prefer ‘a civilised pint’, saying: ‘There is something about dressing up which makes people act differently. These groups are usually on a pub crawl and aren’t really bothered which ones they go into.” Alan first banned Christmas jumpers and other festive clothing in 2016 and found that, despite a great deal of negative media attention, his decision was a success. “We actually had the best Christmas ever,” he said. “It was partly due to the publicity we had. We made it into the national newspapers and even on Sky. Many took a negative stance but it still seemed to help us.”

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clientele. The balloons are also remarkably pliable, opening up a whole new level of creative possibilities for balloon modellers and deco-twisters. “We’re very excited to be launching these balloons at the Nuremberg Toy Fair (31 Jan – 4 Feb) and Spring Fair (4 -8 Feb),” said Julie Dommett, head of marketing for Pioneer Europe. “The feedback from everyone who has been involved in their development and testing so far has been amazing, so we know our customers are in for a treat.”

The dates for popular face painting event Paradise Jam 2018 have been announced. Organised by the Facade Academy of Face Painting & Body Art, the jam will be taking place on Monday, 12 February at Paradise Wildlife Park, Broxbourne, Herts. The theme for 2018 is ‘Once upon a time…’ and novices and seasoned professionals alike are invited to come along to paint their own stories and fairytales as part of the UK’s biggest annual face and body painting gathering. The event includes: ■ Competitions for face painting at junior, novice and open levels, plus freehand glitter art and head-dresses (a new Generation Games competition will be brand new for this year), ■ Demos by top painters and artists, including airbrush make-up, face painting, body art, prosthetics, balloons, nail art, mehndi henna, pregnant ‘bump’ painting, festival faces and grown-up party eyes, ■ Merchandise stands, so painters can stock up on essential paints, glitter, balloons, tables and chairs, ■ FACE, the International Face Painting Association, ■ Children’s entertainment (family and friends are welcome), ■ Giant raffle with fantastic prizes, and ■ A photographer will be making prints on the spot throughout the day. The public will also be visiting from midday for painting. All proceeds will be going to the Zoological Society of Hertfordshire. Visit www.facadeacademy. for more information.



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Balloon Release Bans Continue The move to ban helium balloon releases is continuing to take hold, with bans being proposed across the UK, US and Australia. The bans are being put in place for environmental reasons, with councils and the public becoming increasingly concerned about littering and potential danger to wildlife. New Milford (New Jersey) is the latest US borough to ban the intentional release of helium balloons on public land, making the practice illegal. The legislation covers both foil and latex helium-filled balloons and can see people who flout the law being fined anywhere up to $500. Meanwhile, in the UK, Shepway District Council and Welsh district Neath Port Talbot have become the latest districts to ban the release of balloons on public land. The bans mean that people releasing balloons from council-owned land will now face a fine for littering. Almost 70 councils across the UK have similar bans in place. Victor Harbour Council – in South Australia – has also proposed to ban helium balloons in outdoor areas in order to protect marine life from 'latex pollution'. If the by-law is

Brixham Pirate Festival Is Cancelled One of Devon’s biggest and most popular family events – Brixham Pirate Festival, which saw hundreds of people attending in pirate-themed fancy dress – has been cancelled because of a lack of funding. The festival, which is free to enter, takes over the entire town for the long weekend, featuring fancy dress, live music, pirate ‘skirmishes’ and other events. The festival lost funding from the port’s Chamber of Commerce and the organisers have spent the last few months trying to raise funds via grants, sponsorship, crowdfunding and fundraising. However, they have been unable to find the £32,000 needed to run the event after warning for some time that their funds were running too low. “It is with a heavy heart and great regret that we announce that the 2018 Festival cannot go ahead because of a severe lack of funding” said chairman Peter Beresford. “It is extremely unlikely that we can [raise the funds] now unless somebody comes forward guaranteeing to fund this festival fully in the next two weeks.”

passed, it would become the first council in South Australia to ban the use of helium-filled balloons on public lands. Councillor Moira Jenkins proposed the ban, saying the council had to show ‘leadership’ following a series of complaints following a number of balloons coming loose from a pageant float. The Balloon Council, which lobbies for responsible handling

Below: The number of councils moving to ban balloon releases is on the rise.

Children with life-limiting conditions were given a festive treat of a Frozen-themed party-in-a-box, including Qualatex Bubble balloons. The initiative marks the start of a new partnership between Together for Short Lives (the UK charity that supports children’s hospices) and Disney. Children staying at the Rainbows Hospice were given a seasonal surprise with giftwrapped party boxes packed full of special activities, games and decorations as well as ‘Olaf’s Frozen Adventure’ goody bags and beautiful Qualatex bubble balloons. Spectacular decorations from Qualatex also helped bring an element of magic and fun to the occasion.

Bits And Bobs To Move Online

Helium Demand To Increase By 9% Over Three Years Helium experts have predicted that the demand for the gas, which is used widely within the balloon industry, will increase by 9% over next three years. The price of helium has doubled over the past decade and experts at Bruin Point Helium Corp. predict demand for the gas will continue to grow. Healthcare applications make up the largest share of helium consumption today, and increased usage in technology is expected to raise market forecasts even higher. Balloon gas – or ‘dirty helium’ as it is sometimes known – is a by-product of the Grade-A helium used in technology and medicine. Its price is directly affected when there is a shortage of local supply.

Dorking-based UK party shop Bits and Bobs will be closing its retail operation permanently after nearly 30 years in the town, as it makes the change to become an online-only business. The shop, which sells fancy dress, decorations and other party supplies, has been in town since the 1980s and will close the doors in April of this year when the lease comes to an end. “Due to increasing rent and end of lease we have reluctantly decided to close our high street shop at the end of April,” said Pam Samuel, one half of the mother and daughter team behind the store. “We would like to thank our customers for all for their support over the years.” The pair are now in the process of selling off selling excess stock and setting up a website where customers will be able to order party gear for collection or delivery.

Harry To Topple Trump? As preparations begin for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's upcoming nuptials on Saturday 19 May, Maskarade expects its much-loved royal face masks to feature prominently in the celebrations. The company is already seeing increased demand for its royal range, which has recently been expanded to include an updated, beardy Prince Harry Mask and his bride-to-be, Meghan. “It never fails to amaze me how the British public gets into the spirit of a royal occasion,” says commercial director Ray Duffy. “Mask-arade face masks

For the latest news visit

News_PPE_November December 2017.indd 17

of balloons and deregulation by lawmakers, believes these laws and others like it advance misconceptions about the balloon industry. “We care about the environment and sea life,” said spokesperson Dale Florio. “That’s why we’ve been educating the public for 30 years.” Last year’s beach sweeps by Clean Water Action turned up 580 balloon fragments out of 219,000 total pieces of debris – a fraction of 1% – from 120 miles of shoreline, according to a flier published by The Balloon Council.

Qualatex Gives Seasonal Surprise

are a natural fit for this kind of event and are always a favourite on social media. Instagram and Facebook are full of pictures of people wearing our products.” With over 100k people signed up to the spoof Facebook event of Prince Harry’s stag do, it is clear that the public are already invested in this occasion. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are expected to topple Donald Trump – Mask-arade’s top-selling mask for the last 12 months – from his number one spot. Right: Caption for Harry and Megan to go here please. Caption to go here ta very much.



19/01/2018 20:17

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John Bowler has been part of the party industry for more years than he cares to remember! John currently runs the Balloon And Party Industry Alliance (or BAPIA) and can be contacted on

HOW MUCH IS THAT DOGGIE IN THE WINDOW? There are always new way to draw in customers and increase sales. In his latest column John Bowler extolls the virtues of the four-legged friend...


re you looking for ways to encourage customers into your shop, getting them to stay a little longer and spend a little more? Well if you are a dog owner the answer may be right in front of you, or more precisely in the dog basket! I consider myself very fortunate that I have a lovely pet dog and I love the fact that he is able to be with me when I am working. I also know that when I visit a local shop where they have a dog it somehow makes me feel a little more welcome and the shop a little more friendly. So, it really came as no great surprise when I read the following article by Fred Heritage on business website, regarding shop owners and their pet dogs. It’s worth remembering that even some large companies, such as White Stuff, actively encourage their head office staff to take their dog to work with them. So, it is worth remembering that if you have a friendly pooch, you don’t have leave them at home. Take them to the shop with you and let them work for you, whether it’s as a welcoming waggy tail or part of your Instagram campaign!”

“For the owners of Britain’s small shops, having a pet in-store to greet customers can provide a surprising boost to business, new research has revealed. Across the UK, independent retail owners who have pets in their shop receive a total annual income boost of around £59.7m on average, shows research from American Express. The draw of pets is so irresistible that over a third of British shoppers are more likely to visit a small store if it has a pet. Meanwhile, 30% claim that a shop that has a pet persuades them to linger in-store for an extra 13 minutes. The research found that 32% of shoppers are more inclined to take time to talk to staff at small shops that have pets, while the likelihood of shoppers mentioning a store on social media increases by 22% in the presence of a pet dog or cat. Most importantly for retailers, socalled ‘animal attraction’ encourages shopper spending. Over eight million

What Is BAPIA? The Balloon And Party Industry Alliance, or BAPIA as it’s more commonly known, is designed to work for the party industry to promote the benefits of using industry professionals and to bring significant benefits to our members. BAPIA is a member of the European Balloon and Party Council (EBPC) and keeps members updated on the latest news, including the most recent initiative – the Code Of Best Practice for balloon retailers and professionals. You can read more about this in BAPIA’s latest quarterly newsletter. Mailed directly to members, John is happy to send a copy of the latest edition to interested parties – simply email him at

Left: Customers are more inclined to linger if there’s a shop dog to draw their attention. Below: Man’s best friend can finally earn his keep.

consumers said they’d be more likely to spend an average of £6.86 when there’s a pet on the shop floor. “The presence of a dog can be a great ice breaker for tentative browsers and can even entice new customers through the front door,” said director at American Express, Nikki Edelman. “It might seem unconventional but it appears that business owners who bring their pets to work have the perfect company asset.” One shop owner who attested to the retail power of her pet dog is Aimee Madill, owner of Phlox Books, an independent book shop in Leyton, London. According to Madill, her French bulldog Huxley has become an essential part of her small business marketing strategy, and is well known to local customers thanks to regular social media appearances. “I opened the bookshop and bar about six months ago, and it has been a real joy to be able to bring Huxley to work with me,” explained Madill. “Having Huxley around gives the shop such a homely feel and people love to come in, sit with a book and a coffee whilst he gets on with his daily work of running a business. “He’s becoming a bit of a local celebrity in the area, as he often sits by the window and people can’t resist taking a photo, or popping in to say hello and have a browse – always a very good thing for a small business!”


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Retail Barometer: 2017 In Review

2017: The Year In Party Each year, Progressive Party Europe spends time surveying bricks and mortar party product retailers to understand and report the trends and patterns on our high street. The information in the following pages is based on the 2017 trading year, a year that will be remembered for not having too much in the way of feel good factor and for taking a cautious view for business in general. Here’s what we found...


he results and findings of this survey would not be possible without our fantastic network of retailers, who gave up some of their busy working day to share their feedback, experience and data from the past year. The collective results give us a global view as to the state of the nation. On behalf of the trade, we are hugely grateful to all those who contributed towards this. PPE would love to dress these results up, if you’ll pardon the pun, but the reality is that we’re facing a tricky time. Although 2015 and 2016 didn’t necessarily see indies taking five holidays a year, the feeling was at least more optimistic than 2017 has been - although anything was better than before, having sailed the tail-end of the lingering recession. The current climate is, well, making us all feel a bit hard done by. We feel a bit aggrieved that just as we’re re-building energy stores, more challenge is on the way. Avoidable? Yes, although your answer may depend on whether you voted Remain or Leave. But that’s not the only issue… there’s also an elephant in the room and he hails from the Amazon.

How has business been for you?

Internet shopping is not a bad thing in truth – we’re all doing it, when it suits us. But this is a specialist market, and we feel that we should be treated as such and there’s no hiding from the fact that online trading is making a sizeable difference to the trade. It’s not just Amazon of course (and PPE would like to point out that we respect everyone’s right to do business), but whether it’s the biggest online marketplaces or a ‘bedroom trader’, the reality is that they are operating with fewer overheads and selling product cheaper than indies can buy it in. Something’s got to give. On the positive side, independent retailing has changed for the better and the results of this survey support that. Shops are now utilising social media and doing it properly. They have websites and even trade from them, licensed product is more important than ever and customer service has stepped up a notch to highlight the benefit of buying in person. It’s a changing world where the high street is concerned, but we have to believe. Plenty of Disney characters believed, over the years, and look at the money that put in your till in the good old days… Onto the numbers…

How have you seen the average spend per customer change? 52%

How has business been for you, 2017 vs 2016? 2% 18%


32% 37%

■ Significant growth

There’s a saying that’s been banded about for the last few years, ‘doing the same is the new doing well’. The majority of respondents stated that 2017 held the line on 2016, though the following biggest response was a slight decline. There will always be growth though, whether through luck of judgement, so it’s not completely bad news out there.




Average spend remains fairly stagnant, which is no bad thing, but this doesn’t take into account customers who simply didn’t turn up in the first place, opting for that cheap online purchase. Not all product online should be tarred with the same brush though, and we must remember there are specialist online party product retailers that deserve success too.

■ Slight growth


■ Remained the same


■ Significant growth


■ Slight decline


■ Slight growth


■ Significant decline


■ Remained the same



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You’re invited to visit us between 25 - 27 March to see our new 2018 lines and full ranges. Email or call 020 8732 8879 for more information.

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Retail Barometer: 2017 In Review

What promotional activities have you used to generate custom?

PPE has been harping on about the benefits of social media for many years while reporting these results, and so it’s great to see a full 100% of respondents stating that they have been properly utilising one of the most positive aspects of the new age – free online marketing. Time is money for sure, but 10 years ago you couldn’t tell 10,000 potential customers that you were stocked up ready for the next movie launch. Increased social media


Seasonal promotions


40% Enhanced window 31% displays


Local advertising


Local events


Staff training


How did supermarkets, discount stores and mass digital retailing affect your trade this year?






It doesn’t seem that many years since the biggest scandal in the party trade was a major retailer flogging 100,000 paper plates to Asda – in fact PPE still remembers it being the talk of The International Party Show. Some light nostalgia there. Now the market reports that those supermarkets aren’t the biggest issue, it’s the sheer number and magnitude of online traders.

■ Significant effect


■ Slight effect 12% ■ No real effect


■ The internet is more of a threat


■ Supermarkets hurt more than the internet


Which main factors had a positive effect on your business this year?

It’s somewhere between curious and perverse that digital commerce is hurting the high street, yet the top positive effect for retailers this year was developing websites to drive traffic and sales to the shop. The power of licensed product continued to be a key driver, despite it being much wider spread as opposed to singular spiked growth as with Frozen or Minions, for example. Developing a website


Licensed product/films


Social media


Trialing new products


Reduction in local competition


Which of these main factors had a detrimental effect on your business in 2017?

Unsurprisingly, the challenges at retail came from the web and from the general state of the economy forcing costs up across the board. Making excel sheets line up used to be the preserve of the very big business, but now every single going concern must know their numbers to the penny. Mass e-commerce growth


Party products in supermarkets


Increase in overhead costs


The UK retail economy


Other factors


Category Focus Taking categories as a whole, what have been your best-selling product areas throughout 2017?

Balloons and new balloon innovation (helped very nicely by the Unicorn fad) have seen the category top spot for 2017, with a virtually equal placing for costumes – just behind. With face-paint and special effects continuing to grow, retailers report a slight change in trend with consumers putting together their desired look, not just taking a packaged costume from the rack. 1





Face-paint and special effects





All Seasons Which party seasons / events have generally increased or decreased over the past year?

Halloween’s weekday slot is going to affect trade for a few more years yet, but still represents a huge chunk of turnover even if it was between evens and down this year. Christmas and New Year’s Eve were late hits for a large number of respondents, with Book Week. Halloween Increased Remained the same Decreased

4% 29% 67%

Festivals Increased Remained the same Decreased

27% 62% 11%

Christmas Increased Remained the same Decreased

27% 40% 33%

Valentine’s Day Increased Remained the same Decreased

14% 57% 28%

New Year Increased Remained the same Decreased

36% 36% 28%

Book Week Increased Remained the same Decreased

52% 26% 22%

Hen & Stag Increased Remained the same Decreased

24% 48% 28%

Carnival Increased Remained the same Decreased

17% 50% 33%

Birthdays Increased Remained the same Decreased

50% 41% 9%

Saints Days Increased Remained the same Decreased

3% 41% 56%


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Retail Barometer: 2017 In Review

Product Selection

The Big Screen

How have the following categories performed for your retail business?

Falling in line with the overall product feedback above, balloon categories have held or grown well in 2016. Partyware has similarly shown no decrease, while on costumes and accessories there are a varied range of results, which testifies the level of uncertain trading we’ve been feeling for the last twelve months. Overall, there’s enough pocketed areas of growth to suggest width over depth of product offer might be the best way forward. Kids Costumes: Increased: Remained the same: Decreased:

24% 59% 17%

Partyware and Disposables Increased: 27% Remained the same: 73% Decreased: 0%

Adult Costumes: Increased: Remained the same: Decreased:

0% 47% 53%

Props and Décor Increased: Remained the same: Decreased:

Sexy Costumes: Increased: Remained the same: Decreased:

5% 22% 73%

Jokes and Novelties Increased: Remained the same: Decreased:

16% 76% 8%

Comedy Costumes: Increased: Remained the same: Decreased:

23% 53% 24%

Latex Balloons Increased: Remained the same: Decreased:

43% 40% 17%

Licensed Costumes: Increased: Remained the same: Decreased:

35% 49% 16%

Foil and Premium Balloons Increased: 52% Remained the same: 32% Decreased: 16%

Dress-Up Accessories Increased: Remained the same: Decreased:

17% 83% 0%

Face-Paint/Special Effects Increased: 57% Remained the same: 28% Decreased: 15%

27% 65% 8%

Licensed product is a vital component for any retailer, be they independent, major or online. Owners and buyers do need to keep themselves totally up-to-date on trends, film releases, book releases – just about anything character-driven that could culminate in licensed balloons, dress-up, and party-ware. Costumes remain relatively static in terms of their licensed versus generic buying patterns, while balloons and partyware show a slight nod towards generic lines bulking out sales in 2017 – a similar pattern to 2016. What have been the key celebratory occasions for your BALLOON business in 2017: Balloons 36% Generic Dress-Up 59% Generic Partyware and Décor

Licensed Licensed




64% 41% 68%

Information supply levels about licensed product and trends remain strong, with 7 out of 10 respondents saying they were satisfied with the level of information share.

You’re In My Top Five Non-costume product has a number, if not a great number more opportunities to sell through during an average retailing year. While Halloween and Book Week remain the royal family of trading events, the balloon and partyware business enjoys an ongoing demand from birthdays, anniversaries, saints days and more. What have been the key celebratory occasions for your BALLOON business in 2017? Birthdays


Commission Balloon Décor Increased: 27% Remained the same: 58% Decreased: 15%

Valentine’s Day




Anniversaries & Milestones


Mother’s Day


Gas Hire Increased: Remained the same: Decreased:

What have been the key celebratory occasions for your COSTUMES business in 2017?

24% 74% 2%



Book Week


What have been your hero products in 2017?



Balloons:  Unicorn super shape from Amscan, Confetti Balloons (various suppliers), Qualatex deco bubbles.

Birthday/Kids parties


New Year


Costumes:  Comedy costumes from Smiffys, Superhero costumes

(various) from Rubie’s, inflatable costumes from Morph Costumes.

Partyware:  Creative Party’s block party, rose gold solid colour

from Unique, Little Owls from Neviti. Décor:  Halloween props from Palmer Agencies, scene

setters from Amscan. Various products from Folat. Accessories:  Special FX from various suppliers, glitter make-up

from Paintglow and Moonglow, wigs from Smiffys.

Which of these celebratory occasions have been key for your PARTYWARE AND DÉCOR business? Birthdays


Anniversaries & Milestones




Family Parties





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Retail Barometer: 2017 In Review

What do you see as the major threats to the party industry in the next year? 1st

Online traders


Expansion of multiples and discount stores


Price increasest


UK Economy/Brexit


Counterfeit product

What do you see as being the major opportunities for growth and expansion over the next 12 months? 1st

Personalised service


Innovation in latex balloons


Sticking to only high quality costumes


Retailers delivering different product than the internet

5th  Building and utilizing relationships with suppliers for the best opportunities

Follow Me No slacking in the web and social media department with 96% of respondents stating they have their own website – quite the change from the retail barometer what seems like just a few years ago. If you’re on the list of those who haven’t bitten the bullet yet – you should be. It’s now very, very cheap to get online, and with 100% of retailers stating that it drives traffic into the shop – it’s a no brainer.

In the last year, how would you say that service levels from suppliers have been?

As an independent retailer, do you have your own website?



Remained the same


96% No



Team Players


Decreased If you haven’t, are you considering developing one? 100% No



As a retailer with a website, does the site help bring customers to your shop? Yes 100% No 0%

Imports and Exports While the reach of this magazine is now across 27 countries, this survey is based on the UK market. We would expect to see predominance towards buying from UK suppliers, but it’s also encouraging to note that retailers are also making use of product from Europe and the States too. In terms of the product you stock, what percentage comes from domestic suppliers, versus International suppliers? UK suppliers


European suppliers


American suppliers


How do you maintain your links with the trade and make purchasing decisions? Reps and agents


Spring Fair


Progressive Party Europe


Supplier advice




Other trade shows


Nuremberg Toy Fair


Trade associations


Association events


Have you attended any training course in the last 12 months? Yes




Looking Forward With a whole year ahead, PPE was keen to understand what retailers were focusing on, looking to build upon, and indeed what concerns they had. Balloons once again are being viewed as an area of growth, while online traders and counterfeit product make up some of the cause for concern. What has been your most notable success – either product or season – over the past year? 1st

Growth special effects and make-up


Niche items as add-on sales



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Retail Barometer: 2017 In Review

Leaving The European Union The vote was officially cast and seemingly both an awful lot and absolutely nothing have happened since. There’s a huge air of uncertainty around what Brexit will really look like, but the one thing we can count on is that prices are going up. Up for suppliers, for retailers, and ultimately for consumers. How do you feel Brexit uncertainty has or could affect retail trade for you? It’s already shown an impact


I’ve not seen any effect so far


I do think it will have an effect


Open comment question: In terms of Amazon, eBay, and other significant online marketplaces, how would you suggest that the industry as a whole - both suppliers and retailers - should be addressing, dealing or managing with this new way of consumer shopping?

I don’t think it will have an effect

Here are a selection of answers which reflect the general feeling.

Yes, I will and I think it will work


Yes, but I think it will affect sales



In terms of Brexit, are you prepared to increase prices to consumers?

■“ Offer something the internet doesn’t. Only buy stock from wholesalers who don’t sell to bedroom shops, though most do!” ■“ Amazon should ban sellers who display inflated RRPs which trick customers into thinking they’re getting a huge discount, and ban sellers who use a false picture of the item (often a licensed product) but post out an inferior quality item.” ■“We need to totally overhaul our business approach and look at new and innovative ways of getting our products seen and into the customers homes. Sadly I think that the high street shop has almost had it’s day as we know it today.”

No, I will have to absorb increases I haven’t decided what to do yet

0% 50%

And Finally What one word would you use to describe the party industry over the last year?

Tough but fun, progressive (thanks!), a race to the bottom of quality, Chinese imports, Saint Roald Dahl, an unlevel playing field. If you had one wish for the party trade in 2017, what would it be?

Knock Off Nigel Counterfeit product has been a source of disruption for as long as most of us have been in business. But in recent years, with a more masked manner of retailing via the internet, opportunity is rife for individuals or organisations to offer dangerous and/or also totally counterfeit product. A number of major suppliers have instilled formal teams of investigators, monitors and legal counsel to deal with the growing threat. PPE wanted to hear what retailers thought and was pleased that despite varying levels of concern – and no-one wanting to state they had ever been offered such product – they do want to know more about how this can be tackled, for the betterment of the industry united.

■“That customers realised that the internet isn’t always cheaper and that supporting the small independents is the way forward to keep our towns alive and vibrant.” ■“That wholesalers continue to reduce quality to the point where people stop buying rubbish on line.” ■“I would wish that more people would value service and quality over price.”

Do you feel there has been a rise in counterfeit product in the last year? Yes, significantly


Maybe, but no worse than usual


No, I’ve not noticed


Has your store been offered product that you deemed to be counterfeit or unsafe? Yes




Would you be keen to work closer and to receive information from suppliers about the dangers of counterfeit and dangerous product? If so, how would you like to receive that? Yes, I’d like to hear more with regular emails giving news and advice


Yes, I’d like to have access to a dedicated person within key suppliers


No, I don’t feel affected by this


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Below: Goodbye 2017! Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!

Whatever you might think of 2017, there is no doubt that it was an challenging year and the last 12 months have certainly kept the retail industry on its toes. With Brexit still proving controversial and consumers continuing to tighten the purse strings, it looks like 2018 is going to be equally interesting... KATE MOORE, owner, JollyJesters “An alarming number of longestablished party shops closed down in 2017, mainly due to competition from poundshops, chainstores, and cheap online Chinese imports, so still being here on 31 December was our business highlight of 2017! When we started this business in 1990 it was fun, but for a few years recently the fun was starting to get sapped out of it, due to the unrealistic expectations of customers and the competition from cheap imports. At first we tried to compete with that online market, but it made no sense to chop prices and work at a loss – so these days our customer base is people who appreciate the advice, knowledge and service we can offer after 28 years. We noticed over Christmas and New Year how grateful people seemed and I can truly say that this was the first Christmas for quite a while which actually seemed fun again. We hope that 2018 will see Amazon sellers stop displaying ridiculously inflated RRPs which trick customers into thinking they’re getting a bargain. It would also be nice if all Chinese imports (not just party items) became subject to a huge supertax to break consumers out of the mindset of buying imported rubbish. We expect more bricks ‘n’ mortar shops will close though. Every day is someone’s birthday or wedding anniversary or school history project day... so, our plan for 2018 is just to carry on being here when people need us. ” The party industry in three words: Cheap Chinese imports.

MARK BRETT, UK agent, Boland Party “The last year has been tough both for retailers and online retailers for different reasons. Apart from cost increases, margin decreases, and cautious consumers (quite a combination) there are the unknowns and I don’t mean Brexit or whether to buy your balloon bouquet in Bitcoins. The market dynamic combining the consumer, technology, pricing and societal changes are a perfect storm and nobody quite seems to know what direction to take. I still believe the party market is growing in the UK and the rest of Europe. The issue lies with the fact that there are so many strands and influences so that the growth is not being felt by any one

player. Of course that is a generalisation, as there are the odd players doing well and achieving growth but they tend to be the exception rather than the rule. Within the UK we have a Royal Wedding, while the World Cup will give the whole of Europe a boost. Our highlights over the past year have been the continuing increase in customer base and huge influx of new product and our hero product has been the humble latex balloon. Whatever the climate latex balloons consistently perform! ” The party industry in three words: Just gets better!

SUSIE PATTEN, owner, Fancy Dress Hut “The last year has been interesting, as a retail shop we have seen a 10% growth overall. May and September were our worst months, with September especially considerably down on last year. I think due mainly to political uncertainty and the elections. We had a good Halloween and surprisingly bumper Xmas and New Year with the whole range of Santa costumes selling very well. For New Year’s Eve our strong sellers were mainly 20s, 70s Above: Jollyjesters, Derbyshire and 80s costumes and accessories. In 2017 we definitely saw a significant increase in sales of Oktoberfest costumes and Accessories and for us Mexican Day of the Dead Lines were our bestsellers for Halloween. For World Book Day I sold out of Harry Potter kits very early on and we were unable to replenish, otherwise we could have sold ten times what we did. Lesson learned for this year! Another positive for us was the new contract with Rubie’s which has prevented some less desirable retailers from being able to stock and sell Rubie’s products. Their anti-counterfeit team appear to be doing a great job in stopping the market being saturated with fakes. For 2018 I believe that Halloween will continue to grow and that Amazon continues to be our biggest threat. Household finances are tight but people do still want to party, shop in real life and receive great customer service. As long as we continue to offer great value and a good a wide range of products I think we will be ok for 2018. ”


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YURI MARGOSSIAN, owner, Stage Door “Overall there is much too much competition in the party industry. Not only do we have to contend with the normal competition from other shops, but we also have to compete against the big chains and the internet. If suppliers want the small to medium businesses to continue then they should stop selling to non-party shops, the big chains and to people who are only selling on the internet as they have virtually no overheads and can sell at cheaper prices. For example, costumes are being sold direct to the customer on Amazon for around £10 while we can only buy them for about £13. Furthermore, helium prices are being increased and we can’t pass that on to the consumer because of fierce competition. Halloween and New Year were our highlights for obvious reasons. ” The party industry in three words: Exploited, commercialised, ruthless.

MIKE FORDER, chairman, Creative Party “I am not sure the total size of the party cake has increased (no pun intended!) but it is clear that online has continued to grow at the expense of traditional bricks and mortar retailers. Our business highlight of 2017 was the successful launch of our black and gold milestone birthday range, the sales of which considerably exceeded our internal forecasts. In product terms, OppoSuits did really well this year. Not one design specifically but their product was everywhere at events, parties and on social media. Our hope for the coming year – though not necessarily our expectation – is for the market to grow overall in size. We would also hope that the race to the bottom in terms of both product quality and pricing stops! We will be exhibiting at Spring Fair and will be showcasing some of our really exciting new product launches for 2018, such as a new pink milestone birthday range and a great new collection of latex balloons. ” The party industry in three words: On-trend designs.

LOUISE PORTNALL, marketing and range planning manager, Gemma International “The party industry has been relatively buoyant in the past year. There is more choice than ever for retailers and consumers alike. With limited space in store cautious retailers tend to stock best sellers or licences that they know will do well. Our party highlight for 2017 was the launch of new preschool powerhouse, PJ Masks partyware. We have seen phenomenal success and high demand for PJ Masks party products, enjoying repeat orders for one of our newest launches. The majority of consumers are trenddriven in all aspect of their lives and retailers should continue to support licensed party. Gemma’s licensing team work hard to bring the latest but more sustainable licenses to the party market and we hope our customers continue to see there are great opportunities with SERGIO BATTANER, marketing director, Palmer Agencies “We are describing 2017 as a ‘detox’ year. Retailers have been able to clear the large amount of stock they were holding in their back rooms. A new page is open, and it’s almost blank for retailers to write a great sales book with excellent products the market has come up with.

licensed partyware. Product-wise, there appears to have been an influx of metallic and unicorn-themed products this year but we have been very excited by the inflatable fancy dress items. Noticeably the Christmas turkey and the brilliant T-Rex costumes. ” The party industry in three words: Cautious but exciting.

Above: Rubie’s T-Rex was a hit throughout 2017.

Last year was the year of Trump and unicorns for us! We were impressed with OppoSuits as well, they have a great Christmas range. I hope the market next year will be slightly more upbeat, with a royal wedding, and a world cup to open other “markets” that have been off-piste for the past few years. ” The party industry in three words: Bright future ahead.

DAN PARSONS, director, Fun n’ Frolic “We had a tough time in general last year, with some flashes of excitement and positivity, mainly in the balloon and party sector. We are aiming for a much better 2018 with exciting new ideas and a whole heap of optimism. We have found that corporate clients for balloon décor Above: Fun ‘n’ Frolic are on the up and see the balloon and party business going from strength-to-strength thanks to new ideas, designs and ranges from suppliers. Our foil balloon sales alone are at an all-time Below: Unicorns - like this Qualatex high, with our huge Qualatex balloon wall serving its balloon - were a hot theme last year. purpose. Unicorns are easily the best new party product of 2017. Shame they don’t do rose gold ones too! Décor is also going extremely well, with more and more people wanting to celebrate with parties. I just hope with new ranges and a whole new approach we are going to take to fancy dress, we can turn the gloom that we have experienced at the dress-up end around. At this time of year we are busy looking at ways to diversify and improve. We have yet to decide on strategies, but we will certainly be making changes to try and enhance the shopping experience and think of ways of increasing footfall to the store. New ranges are a big part of keeping things fresh and trade shows are a great way of seeing those ranges, so I’d like to think we will get to some shows as well. ” The party industry in three words: Up and down.


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spring fair progressive party 2page MKII.pdf




Be inspired by New Collection










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family of companies

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Book Week new styles for 2018

Come and see us at: 5, Stand J110 - K119 4-8 FEBRUARY 2018


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+44 (0) 1908 288 500 ©Amscan 2018, All rights reserved

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Experience the


Talk to Pioneer Europe about growing your business with balloons and partyware at the key European trade shows this Spring.

• See the latest “on-trend” balloon ranges • Extensive range of Licensed Balloons and Partyware • Learn from World Class Balloon Artists • Proven Retail Solutions • the first to experience our AMAZING new Chrome Balloons™

Hall 9, Stand D76

Hall 5, Stands G/H110 SB-PP1801014 ©2018 PBC

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Spring Fair 2018

Taking place at the start of the year, Spring Fair is one of the most important retail buying events in the UK. Buyers, distributors and agents flock to the show, which takes place at Birmingham’s NEC from 3 – 8 February, to ensure they have the pick of the newest party product. PPE finds out what’s in store...

Party Picks W

ith almost 60,000 visitors making their way through the doors of the NEC over the course of six days, there’s no doubt that Spring Fair is an essential visit for anyone in the retail trade. The perfect opportunity to kickstart the buying season, it is ideal for researching trends, discovering new product and catching up with industry contacts. Home to The Party Show (which this year has relocated to Hall 5, sitting alongside toys and gifts but further away from greetings, which remains in Hall 3), Spring Fair allows party retailers and buyers to see exactly what will be on offer over the coming year. And there’s a lot to see!

The diversity of the party trade means there is an impressively wide selection of products to explore, from exciting balloon-based innovations (we’re looking at you, Qualatex!) to the newest costume trends which are set to be all over Instagram and Facebook this summer. Although most of the party exhibitors will be based in Hall 5, there are a few breakaway stands, so it’s worth making the effort to visit other areas of the show. In particular, Hall 3 (Greetings & Gift) will be playing host to a number of party favourites such as Neviti, Unique Party, Ginger Ray and Talking Tables, while it’s also worth popping along to Premier Decorations in Hall 2 (Christmas Gifts,

Floral & Seasonal Decorations) and Davies Products in Hall 10 – 12 (Volume Gift & Home). So whether you’re looking to add to your current stock or just want to find out what everyone will be wearing at this year’s festivals, Spring Fair is the place to be. We’ll see you there!

The Stage Regular fancy dress catwalk shows will be taking place three times a day at The Stage, in Hall 5, showcasing the latest in costume and dress-up trends. Balloon seminars and workshops from Amscan and Qualatex will also educate and inspire.

■B  ristol

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■ Amscan Amscan will be showcasing an exciting variety of its 2018 ranges across all categories. The fancy dress offering has been extended to include licensed Disney Baby character outfits as well as official The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Elmer the Patchwork Elephant costumes. A new kids Halloween collection will also be popular. Unicorns also feature strongly in the 2018 ranges, with an impressive 116cm high Unicorn AirWalker and a unicornthemed partyware ensemble. Partyware is also key for 2018, with new Disney, Marvel and Star Wars party ranges being showcased alongside an exciting new range of licensed character piñatas.

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■ Boland Party Boland can’t wait for the summer to begin and will be having a pre-summer beach party at Spring Fair! Go and check out the Boland beach club where it will be unveiling the brand new 2018 catalogue, which contains over 800 new items. Within this extensive and wide-ranging launch there will be a number of new lines and new party themes, including Football, USA, St Patrick’s Day, Racing and ‘Love. “Spring Fair is perfect for looking at future trends – there is such a wide range of product it is possible to get a complete overview of the retail market place,” says UK agent Mark Brett.


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Bristol Novelty never disappoints, especially +4 brist when it comes to providing a huge array of new and exciting product lines for the 2018 season and will be showcasing some of the latest exciting Forum Novelties products from the US. Unicorns remain a strong theme, while plenty of new Halloween props and costume accessories have also been added. “Spring Fair 2018 is a must-attend for retailers this year, to hopefully reenergise the UK’s main party event and give the industry a muchneeded confidence boost and support for 2018,” according to business development manager Gary Vincent.

■ Premier Halloween The Premier Halloween Collection at Spring Fair will ensure that retailers are ahead of the game in 2018 with products to appeal to consumers across the board. Featuring a fresh, updated brand image with eye-catching retail packaging, the collection includes fun, family-friendly products as well as those to add a little shock and horror. With over 500 quality new products covering everything from Halloween lighting to make-up, the 2018 catalogue introduces eight themed collections, taking the hard work out of putting together an eye-catching in-store display.


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Spring Fair 2018

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■ Creative Party Creative Party is excited to be highlighting key trends and in-demand themes through its new collections, especially the newly developed milestone birthday range, Pink Chic. The insatiable appetite for unicorn, mermaid and rose rold trends is still strong and all three feature in Creative Party’s new ranges. Other new lines include extra tall candles which offer a trendy alternative to traditional candles and are available in rose gold, gold, silver and blue. Finally, self-inflating balloon cake toppers and photo props are an exciting new innovation to the party market which Creative Party believes will see balloons taking on a whole new identity!

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■ Gemma International For 2018 Gemma International is excited to be launching two new partyware ranges at Spring Fair; Stormtrooper and Miraculous Ladybug. Gemma’s Stormtrooper party line is based on the iconic Stormtrooper design by Andrew Ainsworth. “The Original Stormtrooper brand has remained consistently popular,” says licensing manager Thalia Clare. “Based on the success of our card and wrap sales, we believe [the range] has massive appeal for Stormtrooper fans of all ages.” Each range includes plates, cups, napkins and invitations and will be on display alongside Gemma’s other success stories PJ Masks, Care Bears and the bestselling Peppa Pig.

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■ Henbrandt An importer specialising in children’s toys and novelties, Henbrandt also offers a wide range of party, dress-up, Halloween and hen night products. For the 2018 season, Henbrandt will be bringing hundreds of new lines to Hall 12, including a fresh new range of affordable Book Week costumes. The team will be concentrating on showcasing new designs for existing collections as well as brand new product lines which are being introduced for this year. New products include a strong focus on the ever-popular unicorn trend, with everything from dress-up accessories to party bag fillers such as bubbles and stickers.

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■ Mask-arade In addition to its popular licensed lines and celebrity favourites (including a certain pair of soon-to-be-married young Royals) Mask-arade is launching two brand new products at Spring Fair.Goggle Eyes and Bugalugs! These hilarious face-changing wearable novelties are like a real-life Snapchat filter and are expected to be particularly popular across Instagram and on social media profiles. Mask-arade is launching the range with five packs of themed Goggle Eyes – hilarious cardboard glasses, and two packs of Bugalugs – slip on oversized ears.

■ I.T.I (UK) I.T.I. (UK) is the UK distributor for the world’s largest balloon manufacturer, supplying national multiples, wholesalers and independent chains the Fantasia, Globos and Globos Payaso brands. A number of ‘star’ lines are being launched at Spring Fair, in particular a new range of pre-filled 36” Confetti Balloons which are available in either gold or silver. Each balloon comes complete with one metre of tassels, helping customers make a real Hollywood statement. There will also be the unique opportunity to see a wide range of Latex Occidental products, items which are not widely available in the marketplace.

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■ Neviti Neviti will be launching a number of exciting new collections at this year’s Spring Fair. New launches for this year include two sparkling Glitz & Glamour ranges – available in pink with rose gold foil and black with gold foil. The design features a funky balloonstyle lettering with foil stars in a range of party themes to include Hen Party and Happy New Year, along with the more creative Pop Fizz Clink!, Party, Yum, Lets Dance and Yay plates, ideal for customers looking to inject a bit of fun. Both ranges also include milestone ages for 18th, 21st, 30th, 40th and 50th.


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Sh Av Of ow f ai er la s bl e

Hall 9F89

Stand 5G104

 +44 (0) 28 9064 7119

+44 (0) 28 9064 5655 @palmeragencies

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Spring Fair 2018

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■ PaintGlow PaintGlow will be showcasing its new Unicorn range which is set to be the biggest trend of 2018. A set of colour-themed glitters and fixing gel, the make-up is suitable for face, body and nails Visit the stand to see the new range of make-up giftsets – from Halloween to festival, PaintGlow has all of your customer’s make-up needs covered.

At Spring Fair 2018, Pioneer will have two stands – one predominantly featuring Qualatex balloons and the other focusing on the Pioneer partyware collection. Once again, Pioneer will have world class instructors attending the show and demonstrating how retailers and decorators can use Qualatex balloons. Attendees can learn from the skilled hands of Sue Bowler, Dominic Cassidy – and for the first time at Spring Fair, Alberto Falcone – with demonstrations taking place on both the Qualatex stand and on the Party Show stage. More than 90 new balloon designs will be available to see on the Spring Fair stand, with the breakthrough new Chrome balloons taking centre stage for 2018.

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■ Rubie’s Rubie’s continues to bring excitement and innovation to the world of licenced fancy dress. The company will be showcasing new costumes inspired by upcoming movies such as Marvel’s Black Panther, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Deadpool 2. Hasbro’s My Little Pony and Warner Brothers Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindalwald. In addition to the My Little Pony Movie DVD release in February, Rubie’s has continued to refresh its core range of Rainbow Dash, Twilight Sparkle, Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy, giving all the My Little Pony fans a chance to really sparkle! It also has a great range of accessories to accompany these costumes, including colourful hair switches and fun wigs.

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■ Palmer Agencies Palmer Agencies is the byword for quality customer service and Halloween and party merchandise; having brought to market many exciting new trends, innovative products and unique designs over the years. Palmer Agencies will aim to wow all attendees at Spring Fair from its new more central location. With a new range of superb Halloween decorations and masks that will be the talk of the show. Hint: look out for the reaper biker and our new electrowire masks.

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■P  remium

Balloon Accessories

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Premium will be launching the new Twin Gas Sizer at Spring Fair on the Pioneer Europe stand. The new sizer digitally and accurately inflates and sizes all latex balloons with either helium, nitrogen or compressed air. It can be operated using either one or both nozzles, while inflating balloons to the same or different sizes. It also includes snap-on connections for a range of additional inflators.

■ Unique Party 13

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Unique Party has been busy developing a whole range of new and exciting products that the team cannot wait to showcase. For Unique Party, 2018 is all about party accessories, decorations, iridescent, confetti balloons, giant balloons, new licenses and the ever-growing trends that are unicorns and rose gold - the list is endless. The new-look 2018 catalogue will also be making its debut at the show, as will new mid-year launches of a new latex balloon and favours range.

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■ Snazaroo Water-based face paint Snazaroo offers the best in face painting products and inspirational, simple and easy to follow step-by-step guides. Alongside its popular gift sets, party packs and FX Sets, Snazaroo will be showcasing its two newest products, Mini Theme Packs and Brush Pens. The revolutionary face paint Brush Pens are a clever combination of brush and pen with a precision nib, making face painting easy and mess-free, while the Mini Theme Packs combine favourite face paint colours into handy palettes to help turn little monsters into little fairies – or vice versa.


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H&P Expo 2018 review



Next year’s show will be taking place from 25 – 27 January 2019. Find out more at

Halloween & Party Expo 2018 took place earlier this month at its current home in New Orleans, Louisiana. PPE took advantage of the (conveniently) new direct flight over to survey the state of the US nation.


he party and Halloween industry’s biggest trade show H&P Expo 2018 has been a runaway success, with both buyers and exhibitors proclaiming it to be their best show in recent years. The show got off to a strong start on Friday 12 January with the doors opening to a packed hall at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans as exhibitors pulled out all the stops to ensure that buyers and retailers would have plenty to keep them engaged and entertained.

Pumpkin Pulp Win Pumpkin Pulp won first place for the Featured Product Showcase competition. “The show has been amazing and we love New Orleans!” Brian Blair, owner of Pumpkin Pulp


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The show hosts some 350 exhibitors, and while Halloween is the glue that holds the show together, there are plenty of suppliers from across partyware, balloons and countless other product areas – as US firms are traditionally a bit more lively when it comes to the number of SKUs. As the country’s largest dedicated show, attendance is made up of just about every type of retailer, from Mom and Pop stores (roughly translated as indies), major buyers and e-commerce giants. Feedback from exhibitors suggests that the show hit the sweet spot this year in its efforts to drive top buyers to the show. Echoing that feedback was Maxine Andrews – vice president of sales USA for Smiffys; “The show has been absolutely fantastic, the people here are here to buy and they’ve been placing orders at the show so its going really well for us.”

Above and Left: Jeff West, creative director at Cinema Secrets PRO Cosmetics and Woochie, with his incredible take on the theme ‘Creatures’ was crowned winner of the debut Artist Battleground facepaint and makeup competition. Left: Arthur Goldiner, owner of Scarecrow Vampire Fangs, shows off his wares.

Howie Beige, executive vice president at Rubie’s agreed, telling PPE; “This show is showing a definite improvement, there are many more attendees and also some very serious buyers who are all sitting down to place orders here at the show.” Visitor numbers were up as the debut co-location of HAuNTcon drove cross-over traffic to both exhibitions, giving everyone an opportunity to benefit from the significant overlap in business. Many of the HAuNTcon


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H&P Expo 2018 review

exhibitors have already signed deals with retail partners they would have otherwise never met. The Haunted Trends Runway was another hit, playing host to a number of catwalk shows and special events during the three-day show. The firstever Artist Battleground was a great success, attracting plenty of attention during the four-hour contest, which saw artists from Cinema Secrets, Moon Creations and Kryolan create the best ‘creature’, working to the theme which was announced just moments before the competition began. The eventual winner was Jeff West, creative director at Cinema Secrets PRO Cosmetics and Woochie, with his incredible take on the theme ‘Creatures’. Jeff was named the Battleground Master after his efforts were judged by celebrity artists Kyle Vest of Blast Effects, Nick Wolfe of Evil Twin FX

Morph Momentum “In the context of a declining independent retail trade, the footfall was better than expected and people had budget to spend having cleared inventory after the poor 2016 Halloween. For Morph Costumes specifically, the sell-through for our urban legends range inflatables and Piggybacks had been good and this translated into strong orders and much repeat business repeated at the show.” Gregor Lawson, sales representative, Morph Costumes.

Above: H&P’s infamous Brewing, Boos and Booze party was a vibrant display of the creativity in the industry – with the show organizing team (pictured) not afraid to get colourful. Above right: Howie Beige aka Mr Rubie’s rewards PPE’s editor Jacqui much sought-after Rubie’s pin badge to commend her decades of party trade journalism. Above centre: Pendra Maisuria of Escapade enjoys finding new product not seen anywhere else. Right: PPE’s publishing director Rob Willis was furious at yet another business trip away from home.

and Bethany Lemanski of Gwen Entertainment. It was fascinating to see the finished designs being created in real time and allowed the audience to truly appreciate the level of skill involved in creating the live entries. International attendance was also a strong talking point amongst exhibitors. PPE caught up with several buyers who had travelled long-haul to attend the show. “The show has been great,” said Emma Angel, director of Angels Fancy Dress. “It was great to catch up with old friends and meet with suppliers and it’s always nice to see what’s in store for the new season. The show is always good but this year it certainly felt busier, which is a very positive sign for the year ahead.” Also in attendance was Pendra Maisuria, director at Escapade Fancy Dress, who agreed, telling PPE; “It’s been another hugely effective trip for our team. We’ve been able to have productive purchasing meetings with current suppliers, but also the ability to source brand new product lines that

we just won’t see unless we’re here. The organisers really work with us to ensure we are looked after – whether it’s help with our hotel or the voucher scheme where we get show credits, they make it very easy to come here and do business.” The H&P organising team do put a huge focus on enticing buyers to the show, something that shines through. “This is the place to be if you’re in the party, the Halloween or the celebration world,” says Liz Irving, marketing director at Urban Expositions, show organiser. “This is the place for the best product launches, new trends and the best networking in the states.” With direct flights from London Heathrow the show has become much more accessible to the UK and European market, while international visitors are quick to point out that the cost of traveling to a US show is very much offset with the opportunity to bring in brand new product, often lines that cannot be sourced from within Europe. From a supplier perspective, the opportunity to exhibit also presents a great chance to increase sales, but also distribution to the United States. Cameron Martin, sales manager at Moon Creations commented; “H&P 2018 has been a great show for Moon Creations. It has served brilliantly as a chance to showcase our new branding, and our extensive sponsorship has been well noted by the visitors who have come to our booth. We have once again not only picked up sizeable retail orders, but also enjoyed the opportunity to have key meetings about strengthening our distribution network in North America.” JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 PROGRESSIVE PARTY EUROPE

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Visit us at the Toy Fair Nuremberg 2018 Hall 9 Stand D-09

Spielwarenmesse International Toy Fair Nßrnberg 31 jan – 04 feb 2018

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Folat BV - Diakenhuisweg 15 - 2033AP Haarlem - Netherlands

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What’s New? uts


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T  emporary Trump

Love them or loathe them, there’s no denying that the POTUS and FLOTUS have been the subject of much media attention since coming to office well over a year ago. Star Cutouts has the perfect cutouts and masks for anyone looking to celebrate Trumps’ eventual state visit to the UK, rumoured to be taking place this February.

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Child’s Play

Children’s costumes play a very important part in the party industry and the Fun Shack range is now even bigger than ever, with the launch of some great new items. These new toddler costumes – including dinosaur, chick and fairy, among others – offer great quality at an affordable price and are ideal for all sorts of occasions as well as everyday play.

New products don’t come much better than this...

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What’s New?

 New Kind A Of Shine

Pioneer Europe has launched a range of fabulous new Qualatex Chrome balloons. These latex balloons have been created using breakthrough technology, achieving ‘A New Kind of Shine’ that is rich, reflective and radiant. Chrome balloons are available in a range of six different colours: mauve, green, blue, purple, silver and gold.

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Brush Up

Leading facepaint brand Snazaroo has launched a new Brush Pen range which features an easy-to-use twist base, making face-painting clean and easy. The industry first has been designed to bring first-time buyers into the category, giving both beginners and experts increased control and accuracy. Snazaroo Brush Pens are available in five different packs.

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Blow Me Down

This year Creative Party is introducing a whole range of innovative self-inflating balloons products, from photo props and frames to balloon cake toppers. Available in numbers from 0 – 9, simply break the capsule inside and watch it inflate! A completely novel way to decorate cakes and a first on the UK market.

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Go Glam

This sparkling Glitz & Glamour range from Neviti comes in two colourways; in pink with rose gold foiling and in black with gold foiling. Funky balloonstyle lettering comes in a range of party themes such as Hen Party and Happy New Year as well as Pop Fizz Clink!, Party, Yum, etc. Both ranges also include the major milestone age birthday numbers.


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17/01/2018 19:39

Spielwarenmesse 2018



31 January – 4 February, 2018 Nuremberg Exhibition Center, Germany


uremburg toy fair – or Spielwarenmesse as it is more officially known – is billed as the place where ‘international toy markets come together’. The six-day show is ideal for retailers looking to be ahead of the game in 2018. Over 270 exhibitors will be showcasing their latest lines in Hall 9 – which is dedicated to the wide-ranging festival,

carnival and fireworks market. The show is a truly international event, with Hall 9 exhibitors alone making the journey from over 32 different countries this year. Many of them don’t attend any other fairs, either locally or internationally, so it really is the place to be for buyers looking to find something a bit different. So with no further ado, here’s a snapshot of what’s in store.

■ Fun Shack This is Fun Shack’s third year at Nuremburg and the costume company recognises its importance in the fancy dress calendar, both to Fun Shack and the fancy dress industry as a showcase to the whole of Europe and beyond. As well as its ever-popular costumes, Fun Shack is also showing its new ranges of toddlers, comic, ll 9,-33 a H stag night, children’s historic dresses, Lift Me d B 050 Ups and many more. There will also be special tan 113 20.0co1m S deals available for any orders placed at the show. (0) ack +44 fun-sh The Fun Shack team look forward to seeing

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■ Constri Each exclusive Partybomb from Constri is carefully assembled by hand and is generously filled with quality-tested party items and toys. It is guaranteed to be a lot of fun for both kids and adults. Whether for a birthday party or other celebrations throughout the year, your customer’s parties will have a ‘special bang’. They are great for a New Year’s party.

both regular and new customers.

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■B  oland Party “Nuremberg offers retailers a completely different perspective on the market in terms of product and distribution,” says UK agent Mark Brett. “ Yet some may be surprised to see how the product ranges are coming closer together in terms of design and ideas.” Within Boland Party’s extensive and wide-ranging 2018 launch there will be a over 800 new lines and party themes, including Football, USA, St Patrick’s Day, Racing, ‘Love’ and many other new surprises!

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■ Delights Direct The Spielwarenmesse will be a great opportunity for Delights Direct’s loyal European customers to meet the team and an exciting chance for new customers to discover the vast range of party, balloon and fancy dress on offer There are over 20,000 products available at trade prices (including this fabulous new Unicorn partyware range), covering all seasons and all occasions, with delivery to Europe from just two days. Meet the team there and discover what Delights Direct can do for your business.

■ Bristol Novelty “The Nuremberg Toy fair is the place to be if you want to be on the cutting edge of what’s happening in the international party area,” says Gary Vincent of Bristol Novelty. “The toy fair is now seen as the European and international hub of the industry and is now considered to be the tradeshow of choice for UK retailers.” The Steam Punk theme will feature as a strong favourite again on Bristol Novelty’s stand while the Unicorn theme will also be continuing as a popular trend.


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Spielwarenmesse 2018

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■ Leg Avenue At the Spielwarenmesse Leg Avenue will be displaying its complete new 2018-2019 costume collection. This year’s theme will be ‘accessorise your outfit’, which will definitely be a trend at this year’s exhibition, as it is an easy way to dress-up any kind of party outfit. And of course, as we all know and expect from Leg Avenue, this year’s new collection will be very feminine! The ‘Glamazon Warrior’ costume is one of the most popular Leg Avenue costumes at this moment, while Mermaids are also very trendy and so the ‘Seashell Mermaid’ costume is doing particularly well.

Popular illooms are the world’s first LED light up latex balloons and since launching in 2008, they have become a must-have item for any party or celebration. Simple but effective, illooms are fitted with an integrated LED that illuminates the balloon and glows for up to 15 hours. Available in an array of colours, designs and seasonal ranges , illooms are amazing light up balloons that will add an extra special touch to any event. With a choice of over 200 varieties worldwide, there’s an illoom balloon for every occasion.

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■ Givi Italia Following the latest fashion trends, Givi Italia is launching Party Glamour, the new fashionable party line for 2018. Glittered and hot-stamped items include extraordinary tableware, pet bowls, mylar balloons, party cannons and a full range of amazing accessories. Givi Italia Tableware is eco-friendly and offered in four decorated or solid-coloured collections: the Hexagon Line and the New Round Line, the new original shapes created by Givi Italia; the New Wave Line, the chic and elegant shape, with exclusive designs and 17 colours; the Basic Line, the simple and minimal shape in 24 brilliant colours.

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■ Moon Creations ■ Mask-arade In addition to its popular licensed lines and celebrity favourites, Mask-arade is launching two brand new products at Spring Fair. Goggle Eyes and Bugalugs! These hilarious face-changing wearable novelties are like a real-life Snapchat filter and are expected to be particularly popular across Instagram and on social media profiles. Mask-arade is launching the range with five packs of themed Goggle Eyes – hilarious cardboard glasses, and two packs of Bugalugs – slip on oversized ears.

Moon Creations will be exhibiting all of its product range at Spielwarenmesse, including the brand-new lines such as the Holographic Glitter Lipstick. This introduces an inventive way to use glitter, and the lipstick-shaped applicator makes it long-lasting. Moon Creations is also introducing a new sub-brand Cosmic Moon, a new range of metallic products including metallic face paint, metallic body crayons and many more. The new Cosmic Moon brand is the first metallic make-up brand focused on the fancy market, and will help create a confident and inventive look that differs from the norm.

■ Henbrandt An importer specialising in children’s toys and novelties, Henbrandt also offers a wide range of party, dress-up, Halloween and hen night products. The 2018 season will be the third year in a row that Henbrandt has exhibited at Spielwarenmesse and the company has found that it is a great market for the products its sells and provides a good insight into what customers want all over the globe. Henbrandt will be bringing hundreds of new lines to Hall 4 and will be concentrating on showcasing new designs for existing collections as well as brand new product lines which are being introduced for this year. New products include a strong focus on the ever-popular unicorn trend, with everything from dress-up accessories to party bag fillers such as bubbles and stickers.


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Spielwarenmesse 2018

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■ OppoSuits The Nuremberg Toy Fair is a great opportunity for big and small retailers to browse through the latest trends on fancy dress. Celebrity fabourite OppoSuits is proud to be part of this event and to have the opportunity to showcase its proven successful concept. For the upcoming year and 2019 the company expects to see OppoSuits growing in popularity to become one of the most popular party outfits on the market, across a number of different occasions, although Christmas and carnival are by far the biggest seasons. The concept is predicted to be one of the most popular trends encountered within fancy dress over the coming 12 months following collaborations with brand companies such as Marvel and Warner Bros.

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■ Neviti 2018 will be the third year Neviti has exhibited at Nuremberg Toy Fair and with good reason. “Nuremberg Toy Fair serves as a great platform for us to launch our new ranges early in the year along with a new catalogue,” said director Tracey Cooper. “Toy Fair really kicks the year off to a flying start and brings in early leads.” This year new launches include a sparkling Glitz & Glamour range in pink with rose gold foil and in black with gold foil. The design features a funky balloon-style lettering with foil stars in a range of party themes to include Hen Party and Happy New Year.

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■ Palmer Agencies The Halloween and carnival market is key for European business and so Palmer Agencies will be focusing its attentions carefully at the Nuremberg show. Spielwarenmesse is the biggest trade show in the business, and Palmer Agencies will rise to the occasion by exhibiting some of its most sought-after animatronics and decorations for Halloween. This date is increasing its importance in the European party calendar and Palmer Agencies will once again show some of the best Halloween merchandise available.

■ Nines d’Onil The Spielwarenmesse Toy Fair, depite being usually held close to Carnival dates, has become an important event for Nines d’Onil, and is where the company shows its collection of costumes, all made in Spain every year. With more than 13 years experience in its national market, it is undoubtedly the participation in this event during the recent years that has allowed the company to take a quantitative leap in its sales. Offering a wide range of costumes and masks, Nines d’Onil is a must-see for all party buyers and specialists.

Making its debut appearance at Spilewarenmesse, 2018 sees Oaktree showing at the , ll 9 8A Toy Fair for the a H first time. On D-5716655 d 8 n show will be the 6 Sta44 (0) ever-popular foil + oa balloon range along with 34 new vibrant foil balloon designs. Also on display will be the latest addition to the 30” Number range, which is now available in the on-trend rose gold colour. This year the main Oaktree catalogue has been extended to 243 pages of creative products. The Oaktree team look forward to welcoming you to their stand!

■ PaintGlow PaintGlow is an innovative and creative manufacturer of B-26376 , 9 l 9 colour cosmetics, Hal 0) specialising and ( o l leading the field +44 paintg in Neon and UV make-up lines. A larger PaintGlow stand this year will see the company showcasing its exciting new face paint and unicorn make-up ranges. Also on display will be a world exclusive first showing of the UV Face paint with builtin brush applicator – an industry first. Visit the stand for all the latest FDA- and EU-approved Halloween, carnival, festival and party cosmetic products and many other exciting never-seen releases.


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Spielwarenmesse 2018

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■ Premium Balloon Accessories Premium will be launching its new Twin Gas Sizer, an automatic, digital, helium balloon sizer that will ensure perfectly inflated and sized balloons every time. Alongside this will be the complete range of air inflators available from Premium including the Twin Air Sizer and the Foil Pro. Also on display will be the Western helium inflator range that is now available through Premium Balloon Accessories. Alongside this, Premium will be displaying and demonstrating its range of balloon accessories including balloon weights, cups and sticks, heat sealers and much more.

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■ Pioneer Europe At Nuremberg, the focus on the Pioneer stand is mainly on Qualatex balloons, and this will be the very first opportunity for customers to see the brand new Chrome Balloons range on display. This range is manufactured using breakthrough technology and has to be seen to be fully appreciated. The show will also see Pioneer launch their new balloons range for Quarter 1, including a Microfoil vintage airplane range, perfect for younger boys. A mermaid theme will be seen across the stand as well, with the team showing more than 90 new balloon lines, including a new mermaid shape Microfoil balloon.

One of the most highly-anticipated upcoming Marvel superhero movies, The Avengers’ third outing Infinity Wars is scheduled for release in the UK on April 27. This has given Rubie’s the chance to bring together over 60 different beloved superhero characters, offering a fresh new look! 2017 has also been a phenomenal year for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Rubie’s range of costumes continue to increase in popularity. With Fantastic Beasts 2: The Crimes of Grindalwald hitting cinemas in November 2018 Rubie’s expects the Potter fans loyalty to continue through 2018 and beyond.

■ Splashes and Spills Splashes and Spills is a special effects and UV make-up brand based in the UK. All of its products are designed in the UK and tested to the highest standard. The company has extensive experience in the Halloween and fancy dress industry and has grown to become a reliable and trustworthy supplier. At Toy Fair it will be showcasing its collection of UV and special effects makeup including the 2017 best sellers: 2 in 1 UV eyeliner and mascara, 10ml professional UV Face and Body Paint and the ‘ultra-smooth’ Face and Body Paint Sticks. Also on show will be a selection of new products for 2018 such as Holographic, Chunky and Unicorn Glitter shakers.

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■ Smiffys Smiffys will once again be showcasing over 250 new and innovative designs for all your costume and accessory needs at the Spielwarenmesse, Nuremberg. As well as providing a chance for you to speak directly to the highly trained and friendly local territory managers, Smiffys will be displaying all of its brand new designs new for Halloween and carnival, from LEDenhanced clown designs for all the family to magical unicorn and mermaid creations. Come and be the first to view the future trends for dress-up, from the company that is synonymous with party fashion, along with value for money, quality and safety. Customers who place a forward Halloween order at the show are eligible for a 10% show discount in addition to a host of other exclusive show offers that aren’t to be missed!

■ Widmann As always, Widmann Milano Party Fashion will be using the annual Nuremberg Toy Fair to present its fancy dress and party items to the market, reflecting trends and showing what is necessary to remain competitve and profitable in the industry. This year, Widmann will be focusing on the following trends, reflected in its new product assortment for 2018/2019. Higher quality and good value, increased demand for interesing accessories, complete fancy dress sets across a range of themes and comedy items such as funny costumes/accessories. Widmann has also made significant moves towards securing sufficient sales support through high quality graphics, comprehensive product data and back office systems and logistics support.


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What’s New?

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Horns Of Plenty

The product motif of the moment, unicorns are being featured across everything from ballons to partyware – so it’s no surprise that the dress-up market has also embraced the mythical creature. This new line of unicorn-styled jumpsuits from Boland Party is suitable for both children and adults and is expected to do particularly well for Book Week.

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Looking for something a bit different? Then it’s time for an international shopping spree!

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Be Unicorn

Embracing the magical and mythical world of the unicorn is Givi Italia, with this stunning ‘Be Unicorn’ collection. Ideally suited for a chic and stylish party, this colourful rainbow-themed unicorn tableware range – which includes everything from essential plates and cups to fun photo props – has been completed with iridescent decorations and accessories.

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Clowning Around

Each year, costume and dress-up Leg Avenue brings some of the most widelyanticipated new costumes to to the party and dress-up market. The 2018/2019 collection will be officially released at Nuremberg Toy Fair and will be featuring costumes such as this unusual ‘Carousel Clown’, a unique new design for a circus-inspired outfit.

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Hang It High

A fantastic range of fun new themed piñatas and garlands from Godan will help set the scene for parties for all ages. The garlands, which feature on-trend pineapple and cactus designs, are ideal for summer events, while the colourful pinatas are perfect for children’s parties, with a number of designs to choose from, including owl, unicorn, flamingo and watermelon among others.

D  riving Them Dotty

This fab costume from Nines D’Onil is one of the new range of innovative new designs from the quirky fancy dress company. Featuring a larger-than-life take on the classic 50s dress-up style, the clever costume follows the optical illusion theme and is perfect for photo shoots and selfies. Bright pink and unashamedly attention-grabbing, this one is bound to drive them dotty.

C  lassic Characters

With a vast range of costumes for children and adults alike, Widmann offers something for everyone. The high-quality outfits are perfect for all manner of occasions, with fresh takes on the classic traditional costumes and well-known characters sitting comfortably alongside designs for new and current characters.


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Q1: Spring Events

GETTING INTO THE Starting a new year is never easy – it’s cold, everyone’s broke and half your customers are doing Dry January. Until we start to look forward a few weeks – because really, there’s plenty to keep the party industry ticking over. PPE takes a look at the mini-seasons which keep party retailers busy for the first few months of the year.


t might be because consumers are increasingly looking for reasons (excuses) to have a good time, or it might be because expensive, big-ticket purchases are being replaced by smaller, more frequent celebrations – but the Q1 micro seasons are becoming increasingly important to the party sector. St. Patrick’s Day has always been an excuse for a good knees-up, but suppliers are continuing to add to their ranges wherever possible. Similarly, Mother’s Day and Easter are seeing plenty of fresh product and modern, clean design. By investing in these smaller occasions, keeping up with high street fashions and driving the sector forward, the party industry is ensuring customers come back year-after-year, increasing both consumer loyalty and total spend. According to Mark Brett, UK agent for Boland Party, these events are becoming increasingly important to the supplier. “You can see it in our new product launches,” he says. “This

Right: Photorealistic shirts from Boland Party for St. Patrick’s Day.

Pick And Choose “This time of year provides a challenge as well as an great opportunity. The micro seasons come thick and fast in the first few months of the year and some smaller retailers may pick and choose which to focus on. As a wholesaler, we can’t do that, we must stock for them all.” Stuart Wheeler, accounts manager, Delights Direct

Embracing the new year to the full is Creative Party, as creative and marketing manager Holly Forder explains. “The new year brings a wealth of new product opportunities. Our ranges continue to go from strengthto-strength as we continue to provide fresh, new and inviting designs.” She continues; “We have seen an increase in popularity for St Patrick’s Day and Valentine’s Day is always a great business boom opportunity for us.” Creative Party has also developed a fantastic selection of spring items for 2018. Featuring flourishing florals and beautiful blossoms, the floral artworks celebrate spring without being tied to any one particular event or celebration. Above: Chinese New Year is a fun micro season for Widmann.

Display Detail

Above: Floral lines from Creative Party are great for the spring season in general.

year that include new ranges for both St. Patrick’s and the ‘Love’ theme which is ideal for Valentine’s Day.” “In 2017, after years in the doldrums, St. Patrick’s Day suddenly reared its head again, and I think a lot of people were very surprised. It falls on a Saturday this year, so that bodes well for us all,” he continues. “The amazing feature with this event is that it has worldwide appeal. There are few major cities in the world that do not have an Irish bar! The team at Widmann is also looking forward to St. Patrick’s Day, says Sancto’s Anna Solly. “It’s the time of the year to dig out the shamrocks! As it is a big event that is celebrated worldwide, we experience a significant increase in orders during the lead-up the event. Sales for head boppers, green sequin hats and sequin St. Patrick’s day dresses are a few of our best sellers, so retailers are encouraged to order early!”

“In general, our best advice is simply to make sure that the costumes you want to push for these mini-events are on display so customers can be inspired. Even if events are close to each other, make sure that there is an area dedicated to each. World Book Day is the biggest event, but retailers should still make some space for an eye-catching St. Patrick’s Day display. It always sees a spike in sales, as customers like to buy comedy products for their night out to really get into the party spirit.” Emma Angel, director, Angels Fancy Dress Balloons are key to many of these micro seasons, particularly those which focus on gifting. Pioneer has a range of Qualatex products for each season, with Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day especially popular. “With more and more ways of gifting balloons we are expecting further growth in these categories,” says Julie Dommett, head of marketing for Pioneer Europe. “We’ve added new designs to both ranges, in line with latest trends and with a wide variety of designs and messages which allow retailers to choose the messages that best suit their clientele.” It looks like there’s no such thing as a quiet period in the wonderful world of party!


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Q1: Spring Events


Boland Party has got big hopes for St. Patrick’s Day 2018 and these photorealistic shirts are expected to sell well.

Add a pop of colour to any Easter celebration with this cute Anagram Chick with Bunny Ears Junior Shape foil balloon, available from Amscan.

Get in the Irish spirit with these fun sparkly St. Patrick’s Day themed glasses and Pot’ O’ Gold MDF sign from Amscan, perfect for creating a party atmosphere.

Step up St. Patrick’s Day party decorations with this new Shamrock Plaid assortment from Creative Party. This fun, festive design is great for all ages with its bold emerald green and fresh lime colourway.

These attention-grabbing matching his-and-hers Dreamgirl costumes from New Temptations are ideal for couples celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.

Pioneer Europe has added new designs to its Mother’s Day range, including this Pink & Gold Dots foil and a number of new Deco Bubbles designs.

Delights Direct will stock a wide range of products for all of the early seasonal activity, including this fantastic range of Hippety-Hop Easter partyware.

A complete range of Easter products from Unique Party covers all possibilities, from full Easter ensembles to complimentary accessories – customers will be spoilt for choice!

Trendy mums will love these Mother’s Day balloons from Amscan, from the vibrant flamingo-themed heart to the impressive multi balloon flower, measuring 1.6m.

This Irish-themed fancy dress from Henbrandt is just one of the company’s many different St. Patrick’s Day lines, such as a wide range of photo props and other accessories.

Happy bunnies and Easter eggs bring smiles to the table with Creative Party’s Bunny Business collection, which features a wonderful springtime colourway.

Joyful, colourful, biodegradable and food-safe party boxes from Colpac, perfect for Easter egg hunts or to be filled with favours and delights.

Children’s Easter products are always popular and this bunny costume and balloon head novelties from Henbrandt are perfect for helping little ones celebrate.

Every year on St. Patrick’s Day, cities turn green, beer flows like wine, and the whole world becomes a little bit more Irish. This OppoSuit can help the Irish magic happen!

A full range of Chinese New Year products from Widmann include everything from costumes and accessories to lanterns and hanging décor.

A complete St. Patrick’s Day collection from Widmann includes everything from oversized glittery shamrock glasses to fun Irish-themed accessories and novelties.


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■M  ini Beast A hot property for 2018, Miraculous Ladybug is a French CGI action/ adventure animated series which is building momentum across Europe and the UK and has a live action movie in the pipeline. Gemma has launched a vibrant range of partyware featuring the toprated show (on Pop and Disney channels) as well as a complete line of licensed cards and wrap.

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■C  ollectible Crazy Playground collectibles are having a real ‘moment’ and Unique Party is bringing Hatchimals and Animal Jam to the party market – two of the biggest collectible brands in the toy sector. The two new officially licensed partyware ranges will include everything fans need to fully embrace their favourite collectible brand.

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Licensed to Party Spring Fair

Progressive Party rounds up the latest licensed releases.

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■F  amily Fun

■S  uper Hero Suits

Amscan is excited to welcome The Incredibles 2 to its licensed portfolio for 2018. The upcoming 3D computeranimated superhero film is the direct sequel to the 2004 film The Incredibles and is scheduled to be released on June 15, 2018. The range includes a super mix of partyware and foil balloons including a 1.7m high AirWalker.

Customers looking to combine their desire to channel the superhero vibe while still looking sharp will be hardpressed to find a better solution than this new range of official Marvel OppoSuits. The collaboration features three stunning new suits; Captain America, Spider-Man and Marvel Comics. The suits will be released in Q1 of 2018.

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■D  oggie Delight Adding to its ever-growing licensed offering, Pioneer has introduced a range of new hugely-popular Paw Patrol products to its partyware category. The new Paw Patrol range features all the pups in a bright, gender-neutral red design. Plates, cups, napkins, table covers and loot-bags will be available to order from February 2018.

■P  arty Pack Rubie’s range of officially licensed party packs are perfect for celebrations throughout the year and ideal for timepressured parents who are busy planning a party. The 36-piece party packs contain easy-to-wear t-shirts and either masks or tiaras and come in a whole range of different designs, including Disney Princess, DC Comic Girls, DC Comic Boys, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, Marvel and Paw Patrol.


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The Wedding Party Inset: Love’s young dream offers retailers the opportunity to capitilise on their big day.

Royal Wedding


t’s been a good few years for the British Royal family. First came Kate and William’s big day which was closely followed by the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and now we are told that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will be tying the proverbial knot in just a matter of months. The popular, fun-loving prince and the American actor have already made a number of public appearances since the announcement, charming the media and the public alike and building anticipation for the main event. So what does this mean for the party industry? “The success of recent Royal celebrations does suggest that the wedding will give retailers an added boost this spring with sales of British-themed bunting, balloons and party ranges,” says Tracey Cooper, Neviti’s director. “With the wedding just a few short months away, there is little time for new products to be sourced from China,” she explains, “especially with Chinese New Year taking place in February, where factories can close for anywhere up to one month.” This may mean that suppliers will be forced to reply on existing stock, potentially resulting in shortages of the most popular items such as partyware, novelties, bunting and flags. “Fortunately we have good stock levels on items in our Celebrate Britain range,” adds Cathy, “although we do not expect it to last long! A good number of high street Below: Mask-arade masks are perfect for creating an eye-catching window display, driving footfall and inviting impulse purchases.

Above: Neviti’s Celebrate Britain range. Be careful of stocking too many Royal Wedding-themed items – generic British themed items are a safer bet. Right: Creative Party’s very own Union Jack cake toppers are ideal for accenting solid colour red, white and blue product.

stores have already been in touch with us to secure their orders. My advice to retailers would be to secure your stock now. Don’t wait until April or May or you may find there is nothing left!” Also looking forward to the impending nuptials is Mask-arade, which is hoping that its much-loved Royal Face Masks will feature as prominently in the celebrations as they have with other recent major royal events. According to commercial director Ray Duffy, the company is already seeing and increased demand for its royal range, which has already been expanded to include new Prince Harry and Meghan masks. “It never fails to amaze me how the British public gets into the spirit of a royal occasion,” says Ray. “Mask-arade face masks are a natural fit for this kind of event as they are a favourite on social media, with both Instagram and Facebook full of pictures of people wearing our products.” Royal weddings have a special place in Mask-arade’s heart, as it was Kate and

There’s nothing the British like more than a good, old-fashioned Royal Wedding and the recently-announced nuptials of Prince Harry and ex-Suits actor Meghan Markle are already creating quite a stir. As the nation looks forward to Saturday 19 May, so too do retailers who are looking to capitalise on the ‘Royal Wedding Effect’. PPE put on its best hat to find out more. William’s wedding back in 2011 that really put the company on the map. “We genuinely believe that this royal wedding could be the biggest sales opportunity for any business offering our face masks since we founded the company some nine years ago,” Ray continues. “Harry and Meghan are a very popular, young and exciting couple whose marriage is bound to attract attention right around the globe.” A significant number of Meghan and Harry masks have already been produced in anticipation of trade customer orders. “All Maskarade masks are manufactured in the UK and so our ability to keep up with demand is very fast,” Ray adds. Not everyone expects Harry’s wedding to follow in the footsteps of his older brother. “Everyone loves a Royal Wedding, but we get the feeling this one will be more of a subdued affair than Wills and Kate,” muses Holly Forder, product and marketing manager at Creative Party. “Just like the couple, we expect it will have more of a casual, modern feel.” Holly goes on to point out that many retailers had leftover stock following the last Royal Wedding, so are likely to be a little more cautious on ordering this time around. “I still expect to see Union Jacks galore though!” So as the industry begins to prepare for the celebrations, forward-thinking independent retailers can take advantage of their flexibility and really clean up. Get creating those window displays – we’ve got a wedding to prepare for! JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 PROGRESSIVE PARTY EUROPE

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Book Week

Turning The Page

Inset: Rubie’s has plenty to offer, with both generic and licensed lines doing well.

World Book Day is taking place on Thursday 1 March in 2018 and there’s no better time to make sure your children’s costume range is up to scratch. PPE turns the page on this key dress-up season.


child-focused dress-up season, Book Week has really taken hold over the last few years, growing in popularity as it is widely embraced and eagerly anticipated by both teachers and children. How much the parents look forward to it is another matter entirely, but this is where the friendly local costume shop can swoop in to save the day! Find out early which books are popular at the moment and plan costumes accordingly, ensuring that parents know what you have to offer.

Right: This cute Elmer ride-on costume from Amscan is ideal for little ones who aren’t keen on a complete costume.

Classic Characters

“Current characters are always very popular with children, who like to stay on top of the latest trends. Harry Potter costumes were even more popular than usual last year, possibly due to the release of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Classic book characters always sell well in our North London store and fairy tale characters are constantly well-liked, year on year. Alice in Wonderland costumes were a big hit with children and their teachers, with the Mad Hatter an especially popular choice.” Emma Angel, director, Angels Fancy Dress

Amscan has an inspiring collection of costumes and wearable accessories, offering everything from classic fairytale and historical costumes, to careers, adventure and animal themes. “We’re excited to add licensed options to our Book Week offering,” says marketing manager Charlotte Cox, referring to the company’s new The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Elmer the Patchwork Elephant costumes, both of which are expected to do well this year. “Fairytale remains a favourite choice for the occasion,” she continues, “and we have extended our collection to include some enchanting new additions including new Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks and Alice styles.” Book Week has also become a very important event in the party calendar for Bristol Novelty, reports business development manger Gary Vincent. “Book Week is now the second busiest peak in the calendar for the party industry and presents a golden opportunity to kickstart 2018!” Historical children’s costumes are a common theme for Book Day and Gary reports that the popular classics such as Grecians and Roman costumes remain strong sellers. “We are seeing postwar 1940s styles also becoming a popular alternative theme,” he adds. Also offering a wide range of generic options for the season is Widmanns, whose vast range offers something for everyone. “Year-on-year the classic traditional costumes and characters always do well for us,” says Sancto’s Anna Solly, “be it Peter Pan, cowboys or princesses. But each year also brings

fresh new demands for current characters which happily keeps us on our toes!” Last year saw a resurgence in interest in Harry Potter costumes, driven by the two new books released in October 2017 and 2018 is expected to see a similar boost thanks to the upcoming film releases. “On World Book Day 2017, a national survey suggested that more children aged 4-11 went to school dressed as Happy Potter than any other character,” offers Unique Party’s Holly Burgin. “Our new Harry Potter accessories reflect the latest in this licensed trend that only continues to grow over time!” Smiffys has also seen a huge increase in demand for both children’s and adults’ character costumes at this time of year, especially in the licensed category. The costume company has developed a range that includes something for everyone, from the classic fairytale characters and pirates to officially licensed Where’s Wally, Dr Seuss, Horrible Histories and Roald Dahl character costumes. “Roald Dahl is one of the world’s most-loved children’s authors, so there is no surprise that costumes inspired by his books are consistently popular for World Book Day,” says marketing manager Sharon Poulter. “We have extended the range for 2018, adding Veruca Salt and Augustus Gloop from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” Also putting its faith in licensed lines is Rubie’s, with everything from Disney classics to modern favourites. “Avengers is one of the official World Book Day £1 books, so we are sure the range of officially licensed costumes will be in high demand,” says marketing assistant Danielle Costello. “We also think Horrid Henry is set to be a popular choice this year, as is Dennis The Menace, who shows no sign of slowing down on popularity following the recent launch of the new CBBC TV show.” With schools and nurseries across the UK actively encouraging children and teachers to dress up as one of their favourite characters and so many new lines to choose from, World Book Day should prove an early highlight for costume retailers. Below: Classic historical costumes always do well for Bristol Novelty. Right: Roald Dahl’s Veruca Salt is expected to be a popular line for Smiffys.


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Halloween & Party Expo is making it wickedly easy to stay in-the-know about 2019 show details. Take advantage of Halloween & Party Expo’s year-round resources, like The Celebration newsletter, to keep up with the industry and receive exclusive show news.



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Book Week

Once Upon A Time

For children that have been inspired by their favourite book Amscan has a great variety of generic dress-up options, including this wizard costume.

These new brush pen face paints from Snazaroo are perfect for parents looking to transform children quickly and easily. The historical Fun Shack range is bigger than ever this year, with plenty of popular Egyptians, Vikings and Victorians.

This classic Alice line from Henbrandt is one of a number of new lines which have been bought in to appeal to this growing market.

New lines introduced by Bristol Novelty to refresh the Book Week range include this Liberty Girl and Egyptian Girl. A number of generic classic costume lines from Fun Shack are influenced by classic stories and fairytales.

Fairytale remains a popular Book Day choice and so Amscan has extended their collection to include new additions such as this Goldilocks costume.

New Harry Potter lines such as glasses and photo props from Unique Party reflect the latest in a licensed trend that continues to grow year-on-year.

This high-quality fur fox mask from Bristol Novelty was a huge seller for Book Day 2017 and the company expects sales to be strong again for 2018.

Children’s OppoSuits are the perfect base for any number of DIY Book Week children’s costumes.

Widmanns’ vast range offers something for everyone both young and old, with the classic traditional costumes and characters doing particularly well.

Smiffys’ Roald Dahl costumes include this new Augustus Gloop costume, from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Star Cutouts can help give Book Week shop displays the wow factor with the perfect book-themed cutouts covering everything from Alice in Wonderland and Winnie the Pooh to Harry Potter.

These Body Crayons from Moon Creations are ideal for Book Week, with a pointed tip and round shape offering safe precision for children’s face painting.


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Best sellers Carol Richardson CAT E G O R Y

As the year comes to a close and we look forward to Christmas, PPE asks a selection of retailers about their best selling lines.

Magic Box Newcastle



Adult Costumes

Teletubbies and Disney from Rubie’s

People were choosing anything silly and fun for New Year. It was mainly adults, kids didn’t seem to be dressing up as well.

Children’s Costumes

Victorian costumes, angels and wise men from Smiffys and Wicked

Lots of school children in this area visit the local museum in Victorian costume so we sold a lot of those at the end of last year. Plus the usual nativity items, both full costumes and accessories.


Glasses from Smiffys and Bristol Novelty and make-up from Snazaroo

Starshaped glasses, beer glasses, glasses with eyebrows and nose… there have been lots of people buying novelty glasses in the last month. Again, anything that was a bit silly! Masks have sold less since Halloween but facepaints have sold well throughout.

Anything Else

Charleston flapper costumes from Wicked and Smiffys

Lots of flapper costumes are being sold by all manufacturers - they are all popular!

Jaz Singh CAT E G O R Y

Swinnertons Balloon and Party Emporium Walsall M A N UFACTURE RS / RANGES

Gangsters and pirates from Smiffys

Hiring and selling are both still popular, and there is still a big range of what’s popular. Lots of people are buying full costumes but also accessories are popular too.

Kids Parties

Themed party packs from Amscan

Themed parties have been very popular, especially Micky and Minnie Mouse, Star Wars, Unicorns and Princesses.

Personalised Product

Photo Balloons, sashes and favour boxes

Personalised balloons, especially photo balloons, have been best sellers for all sorts of occasions from kids and adult birthdays to in memory of. Personalised sashes for hen dos are popular.


Wigs, funny glasses from Smiffys

Wigs have been popular all month, almost every decade but especially 20s, 40s, 70s and 80s. Elvis wigs have been big and funny specs like clown glasses have also sold well.

Anything else?

Unicorns, photo props and NYE balloons from Amscan

Sashes and rosettes for hen dos are big, and a few unicorn-themed things have also sold well for hens. Photo booths are still popular. Lots of people are buying all the accessories and then making their own photobooth. Lots of last minute balloon sales for New Year, mainly black, gold and silver.

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Party store based just outside the town centre, also selling online.


Adult Fancy Dress


Three stores, including one in the Gateshead Metrocentre.




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Best sellers


Vicky Howard CAT E G O R Y

Town centre balloon shop.

The Wow Shop Northwich, Cheshire



General Balloon Trends

Clear Deco Bubbles from Qualatex

Clear Deco Bubbles have been flying off the shelves, especially when filled with paper confetti, feathers or balloons.


16” number towers

These have become really popular, they stand on the table and last for ages. We’ve been doing them for all ages. Things haven’t slowed down for January, we expected things to quieten down a bit but people are going big for January birthdays.


Balloons with gifts inside, Balloons for Elf on the Shelf

We had a rush of parents in late November all wanting their Elves in balloons so they could arrive on Dec 1st travelling by balloon. Also did a lot of gifts into balloons, like stuffed toys, superheroes, my little pony etc.

New Year

Giant number balloons in gold, black and silver, party poppers, party cannons

We completely sold out of the black, gold and silver number balloons. Also popular were the usual party poppers and cannons and all the party extras like that. We also sold a lot of balloon clusters.

Anything else?

Giant number balloons

We are starting to see more people ordering these for all sorts of birthdays not just the big ones, as well as anniversaries and also corporate events, to celebrate things like sales figures. Even selling % and # balloons.

Angela Wakely CAT E G O R Y


Fancy dress specialist away from the town centre.

Carnival Costumes Bristol


Elf on the Shelf


Adult Costumes

Steampunk, 70s from Widmann, Bristol Novelty

Steampunk has been selling steadily and we had a few Steampunk-themed parties over the Christmas period. 70s parties have been as huge as ever.

Bespoke Costumes

Creative and quirky oneoff items, made in-house

We sell a lot of made-to-measure costumes. We work closely with schools and drama groups to provide what they need but also with individuals who want something a bit quirky. And this year anything goes; we’ve made a Lynx Deodrant and a Jar of Mayonaise! People are being pretty creative with their ideas.

Christmas Costumes

Santa Claus costumes from Widmann, Bristol Novelty

This year people were looking for high quality. We got a few customers who had bought online and weren’t happy with the quality but regardless people were wanting the top quality lines and not the cheap and cheerful Santas. We usually sell all our Santas in November but this year we were selling right up until the week before Christmas.

Anything Else?

Murder Mystery costumes

We also get a lot of murder mysteries parties at this time of year, so we work with customers to put the right costume together. People are still interested in hiring costumes as well as costume sales.

Bristol Novelty



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Profile for Max Media Group

Progressive Party Europe January/February 2018  

Progressive Party Europe January/February 2018