Progressive Party Europe July/August 2018

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July/August 2018

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WELCOME The home of market leading trade magazines

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Welcome to the Party Newsflash: It’s hot. Its been hot for ages and it’s going to carry on being hot for ages. We may as well surrender ourselves to it fully and just rename lunchtime ‘ice-cream break’. Whether or not you are enjoying the relentless good weather on a personal level or are getting increasingly more hot and bothered with each passing day, there is one thing to say for it; the shops are busy. Anecdotally at least, the heatwave has drawn out the crowds and people are out there, having fun and spending Above: Progressive Party Europe’s Rob Willis and Jacqui Parr. money (especially on Calippos, those little handheld fans and water balloons). Shopping is a leisure activity as much as it is a necessity and if your store has air conditioning then people will be happy to wander in, browse, and hopefully walk out with something they never knew they wanted. We all know bad weather can make or break a season for any retailer and the party trade is no different in that respect. But what about good weather? We can expect to see bumper sales of all things classically summery in the next round of retail reporting, but where are fancy dress costumes and balloons likely to feature in that? In truth, it’s something of a balancing act. People are having more parties at home so there’s more demand for summer-themed decor and accessories – after all, what’s a birthday barbecue without a load of Hawaiian lei and some oversized sombreros to liven things up a little? On the other hand, festival season is key for the fancy dress market over the summer, so are sales being missed as consumers opt for something a little more forgiving while they spend days on end in the blazing sunshine? Balloons are not without their problems either and the heat has been causing chaos for many decorators who are battling expanding helium and deflating balloons while they continue to prepare elaborate displays for customers. And those displays are becoming increasingly elaborate, as PPE found out in our feature on balloon innovation (page 41). With suppliers coming up with ever more inventive new products, balloon artists are able to push the boundaries of design even further. The public have also been quick to embrace new trends, such as the organic half-arch or the oversized confetti-filled bubbles which can (probably) be seen at a wedding near you. It’s important to get out and about to see what’s happening outside of your own store – although that often can be easier said than done. PPE recently took the opportunity of a free diary day to jump on a plane and head over to Smiffys’ new Amsterdam showroom (which you can read all about on page 32). Incredibly, we left after the school run and made it there in time for lunch! It was a hugely valuable trip and it was great to see the efforts which Smiffys has gone to in making itself accessible to the European marketplace. After managing to travel all that way in one morning there’s no excuse not to make the considerably shorter journey to London for Brand Licensing Europe. Europe’s biggest licensing show is essential to the party trade, which relies heavily on many licensed characters and brands. Children’s brands and classic movie franchises are particularly key and it can be useful to see what’s going to be focused on by the licensors (the brand owners) over the next year (page 35). In other news, we have also taken a look at the Christmas products retailers will be stocking up on in the coming months (page 44) and have found out more about the retail buying group, the Party Club of America (page 25). All that in addition to PPE’s regular features should keep you busy in the run-up to Halloween. We’re just too good to you! Have a great summer and stay in touch.

@Prog_Party_Eu ISSN 2058 797X


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+44 (0) 28 9064 5655 @palmeragencies 06/08/2018 14:47


What’s inside: JULY/AUGUST 2018






The latest happenings from the world of party, costume, balloon and retail


This issue’s guest column sees Mark Brett embrace fear

BAPIA’S BUSINESS ROUND-UP John Bowler looks back at a busy few months


Looking at 2018: retailers report on the year so far


PPE finds out more about retail buying group Party Club America


New products don’t come much better than this

WHAT’S NEW FROM EUROPE? It’s time for an international shopping spree!

07 17 19 21 25 29 31

32 35 39 41 44 48 50

48 TAKING THE SMIFFYS TOUR PPE heads to Amsterdam for a showroom tour with a difference


Why Brand Licensing Europe is essential for party retailers


PPE rounds up the latest licensed releases in the party world

THE POWER OF INVENTION Innovations which have been reenergising the balloon industry


Taking a look at 2018’s yuletide trends and new lines


Fruity prints and themes have taken over the party!


The costumes, balloons and comedy masks the public have been asking for


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! W O N R E D R PRE-O mber available from Nove

Costumes at

Folat BV - Diakenhuisweg 15 - 2033AP Haarlem - Netherlands

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NEWS UPDATE Disney Recognises Rubie’s Commitment To The Brand Howard Beige, the executive vice president of Rubie’s Costume Company, was presented with a lifetime achievement award by Disney at the licensor’s recent annual retail showcase. Howard – or Howie, as he is better known – has been working closely with Disney for many years and was presented with the prestigious award by Simon Phillips, The Walt Disney Company’s executive vice president and general manager, consumer products. “Disney has been a tremendous partner for Rubie’s

throughout the world. It’s always a pleasure working with such a collaborative and professional team,” commented Howie, who is responsible for global sales and licensing across the entire business. “We look forward to building the Disney brands and working together in the years to come!” Along with his elder brother and sister, Howie is a joint owner of Rubie’s, which was originally founded by his parents over 60 years ago. His own sons, David and Michael, are now also in the business, ensuring the continuation of the Beige dynasty.

Spielwarenmesse Organisers Encourage Forward Planning Organisers of the 70th Spielwarenmesse Toy Fair are encouraging retailers and buyers to start making plans now in order to take advantage of any potential offers for rail and flight tickets, the Partner Hotel Programme and AirBnB accommodation. The Nuremberg Toy Fair – which is growing its party section significantly for next year –will be celebrating its 70th year in 2019 and show organisers are going out of their way to make the anniversary special for exhibitors and visitors alike. The Spielwarenmesse website has already been updated with information for the 2019 show, with a floor plan showing the new ‘activity area’ in Hall 8 which has been added to the party trade sector in Hall 9, officially named Festive Articles, Carnival, Fireworks. The information for party trade exhibitors has also been refreshed, with up-to-date figures showing that last year Hall 9 included 262 exhibitors from almost 35 different countries. More than 90% are expected to return for 2019. Next year’s show will run from Wednesday 30 January – Sunday 3 February, 2019.

Below: Rubie’s European relationship with Disney began with High School Musical in 2006 and has now extended to the entire Disney and Marvel portfolio, as well as Lucas Films.

Leading party names make Licensing Awards shortlist Rubie’s Masquerade, Unique Party, Christy’s By Design and R H Smiths & Sons (Smiffys) have all been shortlisted for The Best Licensed Dress-Up or Partyware finalists list for the The Licensing Awards 2018. The finalists are: ■ DC Superheroes Collection for Sainsbury’s from Rubie’s Masquerade ■ Disney Princess Belle Limited Edition from Rubie’s Masquerade ■ Harry Potter Partyware Range from Unique Party ■ Marvel Collection for George@Asda from Christy’s By Design

■ Peter Rabbit Animation Dress-Up Range for Asda from Smiffys ■ Roald Dahl Collection for F+F at Tesco from Smiffys Rubie’s Masquerade has also been shortlisted for The Innovation Award, for its hugely popular viral hit, the Jurassic World inflatable T-Rex. Over 1,400 retailers, licensees and industry suppliers are set to attend this year’s big event, which is taking place on Tuesday 11 September at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel. Tickets are available from Createvents on 01183 340085 or email

Insurance Boost For BAPIA Members Home-based members of Balloon and Party Industry Association (BAPIA) will now be able to benefit from increased business insurance cover which allows home-based balloon decorators to cover both stock and equipment at a special members-only rate. There are two tiers of insurance available to cater for businesses of all sizes.

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Responsible for signing one of the company’s first licensing deals with George Lucas himself over 30 years ago, Howie has since driven the growth of Rubie’s extensive licensed portfolio.

“Whether you are a shop-based retailer or a home-based decorator, it is important that you have adequate business insurance in place to protect you against any number of incidents such as theft, fire, accidental damage,” explained BAPIA chairman John Bowler. Visit www.bapia. for more details.

H&P Expo reveals build up to 2019 event The Halloween and Party Expo has revealed its development plans for the 2019 show, taking place in New Orleans from 25 – 27 January. Organiser Urban Expositions has been carefully tailoring next year’s event to respond to visitors’ feedback. Plans are in place to expand participation in the current ‘Buyers Club’ by more than 20% and to introduce a new guaranteed meetings programme, MATCH!, which helps retailers make appointments with relevant exhibitors. A dedicated New Product Showcase will highlight what’s new for the 2019 season while the show floor will also feature additional opportunities to source novelties, make-up, props and decor – helping buyers to drive year-round revenue and add-on sales. There will also be opportunities to connect with other industry professionals and hear a range of best practice approaches from industry leaders. The H&P Expo will once again benefit from being co-located with HAuNTcon, the Haunted Attraction National Tradeshow and Convention. Registration is free for all genuine retail buyers. See the revamped website for more information:

Amscan launches new balloon decorator newsletter Partyware, balloon and dress-up company Amscan has launched a newsletter designed specifically for balloon decorators. The new communication tool launched in July and will be covering a whole range of balloonrelated topics such as exciting range developments, the latest emerging trends and more. Sign up to receive the newsletter at



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Succulent New Ranges! If you’re a sucker for succulents you’ll love our trendy new cactus collections.

Check out the latest Qualatex® balloons at

View the new “Fashion” party collection at

Or visit us at Autumn Fair Hall 4 Stand D40-F41.

PBC ©2018 SB-PP1808002

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EBPC Talks #balloonfacts The European Party and Balloon Council has published an official response and infographic following the European Commission’s proposed Single Use Plastics Directive. The press release can be found on the webpage which has been set up as a dedicated hub for the campaign. In it, the EBPC responds to the fact that balloons and balloon sticks have been included

in the top ten marine litter list for the proposed SUP directive. After crunching the data, EBPC has found no evidence in either OSPAR or the European Environment

Agency databases that balloons are found in the top ten products found in their monitoring surveys. “As a fun-loving product that brings endless joy and emotions to millions of people across the world, we feel it is unfair to the industry and wish to have our say and provide consumers with the real facts,” explained operations manager Suteesh Chumber. The official release states that; “Research from the OSPAR Commission – the organisation through which 15 Governments

BAPIA opens GOSH registration for 2018 event

Palmer Agencies takes on Stamco for Christmas

Balloon and party industry organisation BAPIA has just opened the registration for its hugely popular Great Ormond Street Hospital 2018 event, which is now in its sixth year. Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) celebrates Christmas with children from the hospital each year and BAPIA is delighted to be able to support this worldfamous charity every year by creating the décor for these hugely important Christmas parties. “This is a day where we get to create and be creative, while networking with other like-minded people for a fantastic cause,” said John Bowler, chief executive of BAPIA. “We then get to relax in the bar afterwards and chat to friends old and new!” In total, between 1,500 and 2,000 people attend the GOSH parties, which are only possible with the support of numerous companies from around the UK. BAPIA is very happy to count itself and its members as supporters of this fantastic event. GOSH 2018 is only open to full BAPIA members. For more details go to

Gemma gives indies a head start online

Halloween and party company Palmer Agencies will be taking on quality Christmas costumes from Greek manufacturer Stamco in time for the 2018 season. A small family business, Stamco was founded in 1957 by Stamatis Kontouzoglou and has a dynamic presence in the Greek costume industry. The company designs and manufactures a huge collection of unique and high-quality costumes

at very competitive prices. “The product Stamco brings to our portfolio is a step up in the Christmas range, with particular attention to quality, design and uniqueness – it will give the wow factor to any quality Christmas grotto or public Santa appearance,” said Sergio Battaner, sales and marketing director at Palmer Agencies. “We’re delighted to add this range to our catalogue.“

Party Club of America trade show dates revealed The Party Club of America (PCA) will once again be holding its Members’ Conference and

with each exhibitor. There is a financial incentive given to members who spend time with every single exhibitor. There is also a free lunch on both days and an exclusive industry party on the Wednesday night. Exhibitors who are interested in exhibiting at the PCA show should email Deanna. Larrick@PartyClubofAmerica. com for more details.

Trade Show in New Orleans in the two days prior to the Halloween & Party Expo, Wednesday 23 January and Thursday 24 January 2019. This year's PCA Show will follow the same 'speed-dating' format as last year; a tabletop show, where each visitor will have a scheduled appointment Left: PCA members are affectionately known as ‘Super Retailers’.

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Left: The EBPC infographic shows the top ten most common plastics found on European beaches, as recorded by OSPAR Commission data. Neither balloons nor balloon sticks feature.

Unique Party launches blog

New and existing independent customers, including those that previously ordered Gemma’s popular licensed character greeting cards and wrapping via Is It Art, are invited to sign up via Gemma’s newly-appointed independent sales team and dedicated head office-based customer service team are available to answer any queries.

Licensed partyware company and greetings card publisher Gemma International has launched a new online trade store designed specifically for independent retailers. The new trade store is part of an increased focus on independent retailers and will enable customers to place product orders online, to be processed within 48 hours of receipt.

and the EU cooperate to protect the marine environment – has recorded that of the total number of plastic items found on European beaches between 2010 and 2016, balloons represented just 1% and balloon sticks 0%.” The EBPC has also written to the European Commission asking that it ceases to mention balloons and balloon sticks in its campaign materials and has issued an online toolkit to help all members add their voices to the campaign against the EU’s single-use plastics strategy. To find out more or to download materials for your own use please visit

Partyware and balloon expert Unique Party has launched a new blog, designed to help retailers put together on-trend party looks for consumers. The blog will cover everything from licensing to seasonal to everyday party supplies. New posts will be added at least twice a month, making the blog an invaluable resource for retailers, who are encouraged to reblog the content on their own websites to help drive traffic and inspire consumers. “Our blog delivers up to the minute news about our company and our products,” explained vice president and general manger Jim Cairns. “It’s the perfect medium to keep absolutely up to date with everything going on in party!” Take a look at

Revamp To Close Its Doors The latest casualty of the UK’s changing retail landscape is Revamp, the much-loved fancy dress and hire shop based in Brighton’s North Laines, which closed its doors in June after 32 years in business. The most recent owners, husband and wife Lynette Norris and Tom Mugridge, said Revamp has been gradually driven out of business by recession, rail problems and the expansion of the internet.



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Beyond Balloons and Qualatex kit out Disney for London Pride

Below: An estimated 30,000 people took part in the annual parade, one of the world’s biggest LGBT+ celebrations.

Balloon décor company Beyond Balloons teamed up with Qualatex to create a fabulous balloon display for Disney UK to use in this year’s 46th London Pride Parade last month. Following a successful debut in 2017, Disney UK returned to the much-loved event for a second year, once again calling on the expert help of Stuart Davies from Beyond Balloons. This year’s entry featured a staggering 13,500 rainbowcoloured Qualatex balloons spelling out ‘Disney’ alongside the word LOVE in black and white. Spectacular rainbow Mickey Mouse heads also featured, each one containing over 800 balloons. A team of nine balloon artists and over 30 Disney cast members

Neviti straws help in fight against plastics Neviti’s paper straws have been highlighted as an alternative to single-use plastic straws on homeware retailer Lakeland’s consumer-facing website. The blog post links directly to Neviti’s biodegradable paper straws for children’s parties and other hosting occasions. “We have been seeing many more enquiries from our customers for paper straws as the media continues to report on the damage plastic does to the environment,” says Neviti’s director Tracey Cooper. “As well as being a trendy addition to your drink, consumers now see paper straws as a more environmentally-friendly choice and this is driving retailers to make the switch.”

joined Stuart for the build, working for three days to create over 85 balloon structures. “Being given the chance to work on such an important event for the second year running was truly an honour,” commented Stuart. “I’m so

Smiffys launches new range for EU market

Party City To Open 50 Pop-Up Toy Stores

Fancy dress and party company Smiffys has launched a new Carnival Collection – a range of costumes which has been designed exclusively for the European market. Based on the latest worldwide fancy dress trends, the exclusive range is perfect for groups, families and couples and features an exciting range of costumes. Designed for maximum impact retail display, the innovative collection is packaged on hangers rather than in packets, allowing customers to touch the quality materials and get up close to the design details. “We presented the range – which contains more than 60 unique SKUs – at Nuremberg Toy Fair earlier this year and had some really positive feedback,” said director Dominique Peckett.

North American party retail chain Party City has announced its plans to open 50 pop-up Toy City stores in the US, alongside its temporary Halloween City stores, capitalising on the gap left in the market following the recent liquidation of Toys R Us. The party goods retailer says that the stores will open in early September and stay open until the end of the traditional holiday shopping period. The Halloween City and Toy City stores will co-exist under one roof, with around two-thirds of the floor space devoted to Halloween City until the end of October. After Halloween, the rest of the space will gradually transition to Toy City for the remainder of the holiday trading. The list of locations has not yet been finalised, but the retailer plans to open about 250 to 270 Halloween City pop-ups this year. “The creation of a Toy City concept to complement our temporary seasonal retail strategy is a logical extension of our brand; one that will allow us to leverage our existing pop-up store capabilities and capitalise on the category whitespace that has recently been created,” said Party City ceo James Harrison.

Balloon Market to host Qualatex training Leading UK balloon and party wholesaler Balloon Market will be hosting a Qualatex training course for the first time later this autumn. Taking place on Wednesday 17 October in Southampton, the Qualatex Fundamentals course will be the first in a series of Balloon Market-hosted training sessions. The trainer leading

the course will be Mark Drury, a regular guest on Balloon Market’s YouTube channel BMTV. “We are really excited about working with Pioneer Europe and finally being able to offer what many have been asking us for for years!” said Greg Brown, owner of Balloon Market, who announced the news in a YouTube video.

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proud of our creation for this year’s Pride London and would like to thank the amazing teams at Disney, Qualatex and Beyond Balloons as well as all the other contributors for making this come together in such a joyous and memorable way.”

Spirit Halloween reveals Fortnite costumes American party and Halloween retailer Spirit Halloween has revealed the first look at its official Fortnite costumes, which will be launching in time for Halloween 2018. The official licensing deal was announced in late July and sees Spirit Halloween partnering with Epic Games to create a range of officiallylicensed Fortnite costumes, cosplay, accessories and gear, in a deal brokered by IMG. The collection will feature costume skins and accessories as well as gamereplica weapons and gear. “Fortnite fans will be able to don their favourite costume skins preparing for epic battles in official gear and accessories,” said Kym Sarkos, executive vice president of Spirit Halloween. “We will continue to add detailed replica products for Fortnite fanatics, so be sure to keep an eye out for additional supply drops.” Pre-orders can be placed online at, with product due to begin arriving instore in early September.

New Catalogue Season ■ A mscan has launched its new 180-page winter catalogue for 2018, containing a wide variety of ranges, from Christmas and Hanukkah to the big New Year’s Eve countdown. ■ D utch costume and accessory party company Folat has released its 2018 Halloween catalogue, featuring 60 pages of exciting new products perfect for the scary season. ■ R ubie’s Masquerade has released its 2018 additions catalogue, with a wide range of new licensed and generic costumes and accessories, including great Halloween products. ■ I talian fancy dress company Widmann has launched three new catalogues which span the two-year period between 2018 and 2020, including over 14,000 high-quality lines.



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Party Delights founders to step down

Hen and stag party costs soar

Right: Following their Halloween departure, Allison and Steve will enjoy an extended holiday before resuming chairman roles from January 2019.

Party Delights founders Allison and Steve Graham have announced that they will be stepping down from the business on Wednesday 31 October 2018, five years after Party City officially acquired the company in March 2013. The business has continued to operate independently since then, while still enjoying the backing of the American parent company. The couple have remained actively involved the business, which was originally founded by Allison, until this year.

They now feel the time is right to stand back and let the emerging management team take the business to the next level. Claire Grasby, formerly marketing director will be promoted to managing director, while commercial accountant Jamie Lee is being promoted to commercial director. “Coming to the decision has been difficult for us, but we feel that now is absolutely the right time to take a step back and enjoy some of what life has to offer,” commented Steve. “Allison and I

Pioneer Europe launches fashion range Pioneer Europe has launched its ‘fashion’ range of partyware, forming part of the wider Pioneer Party collection. The new fashion range is inspired by up-and coming trends, themes and colours to offer retailers a fresh partyware selection, as well as popular licences from Disney, Marvel, Universal, Me to You, Forever Friends, Rachel Ellen, Studio Pets and more. “We’re very excited to be launching our fashion range and extending our Pioneer Party offering,” said Julie Dommett, head of marketing. “I’m certain that the clean, fresh look of this range will be very attractive to consumers.” Left: The new cactus collection from Pioneer Party.

Seasonal show puts party in the spotlight

Balloon seller asked to leave UK festival

Held in Hong Kong each October, the Asian Festive, Christmas and Seasonal Show is a key showcase and sourcing hub for festive, party and balloon suppliers across Asia. The 2018 show – taking place from 20 – 23 October – will bring together over 250 exhibitors to present their best new ranges in these categories. Presented and managed by Comasia, the annual Asian sourcing bonanza, which features over 1,700 exhibitors in total – is a popular destination for global buyers looking for on-trend and novel gifts and premiums. Pre-register online now at www.asianchristmas. com and apply for a special buyer sponsorship to receive up to HKD2,800 towards expenses incurred during your visit to the show.

A balloon seller was asked to leave Cornwall’s Mazey Day festivities after organisers chose to back a local plastic-free initiative by not inviting balloon sellers to trade on the site. Golowan festival organisers issued the following statement: “Golowan is proud to be working with Plastic Free Penzance/ Surfers Against Sewage to take on board the plastic free initiative for this year’s festival.” It continued: “Golowan will not be inviting helium balloon sellers to attend the festival and any that do attempt to trade within the festival boundaries will be politely asked to leave. We ask members of the public to show their support for the Plastic Free Penzance initiative by not buying helium balloons.” Penzance was the first town in the UK to be awarded Plastic Free Coastlines status as part of a massive campaign by Surfers Against Sewage.

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have remained with the business longer than was strictly needed since Party City acquired us in 2013, as we simply enjoy what we do and the people we work with.”

NABAS Event Confirmed To Return For 2019 It has been confirmed that the NABAS Event – a threeday training opportunity, extravaganza and celebration of all things balloon – will be returning for 2019. Taking place from Saturday 5 to Monday 7 October 2019, the event will be held at Warwick University, which was also the venue for NABAS’ 30th birthday celebrations last year. The session will include a hands-on big build day, gala dinner and two full days of training with some of the most respected instructors in Europe. The balloon and party association NABAS has recently benefited from the hard work and dedication of an entirely new committee, led by chairman, George Oustayiannis, founder of GO International. Visit www.nabas. to find out more.

The cost of attending hen and stag parties has soared in recent years, with guests attending an overseas celebration spending approximately £67 each on fancy dress and £64 on party decorations. A poll of 2,000 UK adults, conducted by, found that the average pre-wedding party in the UK costs £464, while that more than doubles if the celebrations are being held abroad, when it costs a total of £998 on average. Decorations destined for overseas events cost £64.13, while the average spend for a UK event was £28.12. Fancy dress was similarly more expensive away from home – the average cost for costumes for a trip abroad is £69.99 and just £28.40 for the UK.

Façade Academy holds open day Award-winning face painter and owner of Façade Face Painting Academy, Juliet Eve is inviting all face-painters to join her for free at Façade Academy's open day. Taking place from 10am to 4pm on Friday 7 September 2018, the open day will involve a free day of demos, talks and discussions, Question Time with an expert panel, and a mini jam. Whether you’re new to face painting or an experienced painter looking to develop your professional skills, Juliet would like as many people as possible to come along and see what’s on offer. Although entry is free, please reserve your ticket online at

HIA supports San Diego ComicCon 2019

Grabo signs Robot Trains balloon deal Italian balloon designer and manufacturer Grabo has signed a two-year licensing deal with Mondo TV to produce a wide range of Robot Trains balloons. The new range has already launched across both Italian and Russian party retailers, toy stores and mass-market outlets.

The Halloween Industry Association (HIA) has announced it will be supporting next year’s Comic-Con International, held in San Diego from 17 – 21 July, 2019. The HIA will be sponsoring a number of events in conjunction with the Costume Designers Guild (Stand 734) at ComicCon, in order to further its relationship with the television and motion picture industry.



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BAPIA Announces Chris Adamo UK Tour The latest balloon décor training announcement from industry organisation BAPIA is the oncein-a-lifetime opportunity to train with the world-famous Australian balloon artist Chris Adamo (CBA). Final dates are yet to be confirmed, but an exclusive UK tour will be taking place in June 2019. Chris has been part of the balloon industry for the last 20

years ago, founding Sydney’s ‘The Balloon Crew’ and the online balloon gift and balloon order relay business Balloons Online. A dedicated YouTube channel – with almost 9,000 subscribers – also sees Chris sharing tips and tricks. “BAPIA is so excited to be bringing Chris Adamo to the UK for this tour,” said chairman John Bowler. “It is an incredible one-off opportunity to learn from this

rock ‘n’ roll star of the balloon industry who is also the nicest of gentlemen.” He continued; “We are looking at locations close to airports so that delegates can fly in from mainland Europe and Scandinavia as we know that this tour will be of interest to people from different countries. We are working to make this a truly unforgettable opportunity for everybody!'”

Chuckles to close after 25 years

OppoSuits Appoints Manc Frank

Karnival Time

Costume and fancy dress hire store Chuckles Fancy Dress Hire, based in Felixstowe, UK, has closed down after more than 25 years in business. Owner Sarah Fitch made the announcement on the shop’s Facebook page. “It is time to accept that the high street is no longer what it used to be,” she said in the post. “For Chuckles’ last few weeks on earth I’ll be open as usual but selling, instead of hiring. Come in and have a look, make an offer.” Sarah bought the business four years ago and the changing retail market has led to a lack of footfall, with sales naturally taking a hit. She will continue to hire out 40s and military costumes from home via her website revivalwardrobe. com as well as buying and selling vintage clothing.

IG Design Celebrates Profit Growth

media relations and influencer campaigns. OppoSuits was originally founded by Jasper Castelein, Jelle van der Zwet and Guus Bakker, in 2012. The last six years have seen the collection expand to more than 30 designs, with the suits currently being sold in more than 1,100 stores across Europe, the United States and Canada.

Party retailers can expect to see requests for OppoSuits continue to rise in the coming months as Manc Frank has been bought on board as the UK PR agency for the Dutch costume company. The Manchester-based agency will be driving brand visibility and engagement for the eccentric suits and will manage all brand activation, proactive

million in the year ending 31 March 2018, an impressive jump from the £13 million it recorded in 2017. Sales rose from £311 million to £327.5 million, a rise of 5%. The group has been increasing the sales made on events outside Christmas, with these seasonal events now accounting for almost half of the company’s total revenues.

Cards and gifts specialist IG Design group delivered record profits last year as it increased its focus on Easter and Valentine’s Day. Party product, including social stationery and partyware collections, accounted for 5.5% of the company’s total sales and is growing across the group. The business grew its pre-tax profit by 51%, making £19.7

Rubie’s rogue trader prosecution success

Above: Mike was recently nominated for an IP Champion Award as recognition of his outstanding work in promoting and protecting intellectual property.

The IP protection team at Rubie’s UK – led by global head of anti-piracy Mike O’Connell – have contributed to the successful prosecution of another rogue trader, working alongside Flintshire County

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result for the team at Rubie’s in our fight against counterfeit products and those who sell them,” said Mike. “This is a very good result,” added Flintshire councillor Chris Bithell. “These crimes are not the victimless crimes as many perceive. This is theft of trade marks that companies spend large amounts of money to develop and it also has an adverse effect on those companies that sell the genuine products.” If a party retailer suspects they may have inadvertently purchased counterfeit goods or knows of anyone selling them they should report it to Trading Standards on 03454 040506.

Council Trading Standards team. Early last year the Rubie’s team contacted Flintshire County Council Trading Standards Service to report a local eBay supplier of counterfeit superhero costumes. Following an indepth investigation, raid and subsequent seizure of 250 counterfeit items with a street value of £7,236.22 owner Ashley Turner pleaded guilty to seven charges of supplying and possessing counterfeit goods under the Trade Marks Act 1994. Mr Turner was fined £1,125 and ordered to pay investigation costs and compensation to Rubie’s, totalling £10,772.22. “This is another fantastic

Above: Mike was also recently nominated for an IP Champion Award as recognition of his outstanding work in promoting and protecting intellectual property.

Party industry stalwart Stuart Goodman has been appointed new head of sales for Karnival Costumes “Many of you will know me for my work in the costume industry over the past 20 years and may possibly be wondering why I would make a change after so many successful years?” said Stuart, in an open letter to the industry. “Karnival Costumes gives a new fresh exciting offer to the costume market and has a young talented team which I am excited to be working alongside. I have seen many changes over the years in this industry and this opportunity allows me to offer original, exciting and innovative costumes and more importantly the opportunity to be competitive without having to reduce margins.” He continued; “I am working with key partners across the UK and Europe who also share our vision and together we are all very excited to be able to offer the Karnival Costume brand.”

New faces at Creative Party Kata Bukta has joined Creative Party as a sales and office administrator. “Kata brings a bubbly personality and a wealth of experience in customer service, logistics and sales strategy,” said creative and marketing director Holly Forder. “We believe that Customer service is not a department but an attitude. Each employee at Creative Party follows this simple mindset and we are proud to achieve fantastic levels of customer satisfaction as a result.”



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07/08/2018 11:24

Guest Columnist

Mark Brett is the UK agent for both Boland Party and ITI (UK).

The Word Otn ee r t s e th

The latest in PPE’s series of guest columnists, Mark Brett is the UK agent for both Boland Party and ITI (UK) and has years of party industry experience under his belt. Here’s his take on remaining positive in the face of retail’s many challenges in 2018.

Feel the fear... and do it anyway

There is much to fear. Good start to a novel, maybe, but for an article in a trade magazine read by members of the party industry where we are all deliriously happy, perhaps not such a judicious opener. Traditionally, trade magazines do not print articles full of negativity, so hats off to ‘Prog Party’ for breaking the mould (assuming they do, but if they don’t you won’t know as this

That’s the depressing bit sorted. There are many opportunities still open to those willing to seek them out. As an industry, we are, by nature, creative and innovative. You only have to look back at the UK (and I think this is also true of much of Europe) over a long period of forty plus years to see what was happening then and how it is now. These days, many meetings

“It is very easy to sit back and write platitudes. ‘Go for it!’, ‘Just do it!’, ‘It’s there for the taking!’ It’s easy, but not very helpful.” won’t have been printed!). Having started with that sentence I must qualify what I mean. During my working life (and that goes back a fair few years, including major economic downturns, three day week, 20% inflation, everybody going on strike and the plummeting value of sterling) there have never been so many challenges facing our, and everyone else’s industries. The rapidly changing face of retail, an influx of new online operators, the constantly increasing cost to sale, Brexit, future uncertainties and the effects of dramatic changes in technology and its influences on how we act, purchase and generally organise our lives. On top of this comes the news that for the first time in the UK the average household has spent more than it earns, since the last time that household incomes were less than their outgoings.

within our sector involve talking about designs and trends – words that would have been a complete anathema, even ten years ago, to any self-respecting buyer or supplier. This keeps the supply base on its toes and ensures a constant influx of new product. To think that, way back in our commercial history, a holographic hat was going to be the next big thing! It is very easy to sit back and write platitudes. ‘Go for it!’, ‘Just do it!’, ‘It’s there for the taking!’ It’s easy, but not very helpful. Retailing is not easy, and it never has been. In modern retailing history (let’s call that since 1945), there have been various periods of massive change. The evolution of supermarkets destroyed tens of thousands of independents. Then came out of town shopping, killing off even more. A whole raft of social, economic and technological changes have and will

continue to effect how people buy and sell stuff. Yet that is what they continue to do... buy and sell stuff. Yes, it is a bit trite, but that is what happens. Retailers (of all types) and the supply chain, eventually adapt. Many retailers have disappeared since the financial crash, while others have appeared and flourished. Amazon, the Beelzebub of retail, opened its metaphorical doors in 1995. Founder Jeff Bezos didn’t make a profit for the first five years. The irony here lies in that on his way to becoming one of the wealthiest men in the world and having a devastating effect on many retailers, he has also created the opportunities for many to flourish and become millionaires in their own right using his platform. And if

Waterstones can reinvent itself after books were the first product area to be slaughtered by the Amazon behemoth, surely other product areas can do the same? The title of this article ‘Feel the fear.. and do it anyway’ comes from a book published in 1987 by Susan Jeffers. It is about how to overturn your fears and indecision and turning them into confidence and action. Therein lies the moral to this article. The author had a major problem getting the book published, primarily because she was a woman. She persisted and it eventually sold over 15 million copies in over 100 countries. Finally, as Bertrand Russell once said; ‘To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom’ ...and the rebirth of retail (he didn’t say this bit).”

Inset: Feeling the fear and doing it anyway.


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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


It's been a busy few months, and so in his latest column John Bowler has taken the opportunity to address a number of important issues, covering everything from BAPIA benefits to balloon releases.


am sure that like most (if not all) of you, I use social media and I know how frequently we all check our phones, tablets or laptops to see who has updated their status or posted new photos recently. Because of this it is easy to be under the impression that once you post something on Facebook it is automatically read by everybody in the group. However, the truth is that not everybody reads every post, and if they miss it they may really miss out on what is happening. So here are a few updates on what BAPIA has been doing recently and what we have coming up in the future. HOME-BASED BUSINESS INSURANCE I know that there are a lot of home-based businesses out there, especially in the décor and face-painting industry. We had a lot of enquiries asking if it was possible to secure insurance cover for equipment and stock, especially as in some cases the value was really quite significant. With scheme already in place for business premises, we have put together a package for home-based members. Simply select the package that suits your business and will you peace of mind should any mishaps occur. The end result is a two-tiered scheme offering business insurance at a discounted rate, that gives excellent cover. Full details can be found at

BALLOON RELEASE STATEMENT BAPIA has publicly stated that it no longer supports balloon releases in an effort to protect both the environment and our industry. We have had a fantastic response to this and a large number of balloon professionals agreed with this and supported it. If you would like more information please get in touch. CHRIS ADAMO TOUR 2019 This was the big news of the year so far for us as Chris Adamo is the Mr Rock 'n' Roll of the balloon industry! As well as being one of the nicest guys you will ever meet Chris is also an incredible balloon artist and entrepreneur. He will be touring the UK in June/July 2019 and visiting six key locations around the country to share his skills with attendees. BAPIA members will receive a discount on their booking but the classes will be open Above: The Chris Adamo UK tour 2019 is to everybody expected to be a sell-out event. to attend. Keep watching bapiaonline. com, Facebook, PartyWorldwide. net and of course Progressive Party Europe for more details.

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

GOSH 2018 This is now our sixth year of GOSH and it doesn’t lose any of its excitement for me and apparently not for anybody else either! Once again we were inundated with applications as soon as we released the registrations for this event, with one member disappointed that it took him 11 minutes before he saw the announcement! For those of you who don’t know, BAPIA members have decorated the venue for Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) Christmas parties for the past five years, creating some magical décor that really does bring the party to life. We spend the day before the parties creating the décor and installing it so that it is ready for the first party the next day. This is our opportunity to give something to some very special, brave and deserving children and it is wonderful to see the impact it has on them. The whole team have a great day and we finish off with a relaxing social drink in the bar where contact information is exchanged and friendships are cemented. Due to the popularity of this day it is only open to BAPIA members to take part but if you would like more information please get in touch DISCOUNTS WITH UK WHOLESALERS We are constantly striving to bring more benefits and resources to our members and will continue to do so. One such benefit is discounts with some wholesalers who are offering BAPIA members a discount code, for more information please get in touch. Well, I think I have squeezed as much as I can into this page, but please keep watching Progressive Party Europe, and our Facebook page for more information as it happens. Or you can always contact us at” JULY/AUGUST 2018 PROGRESSIVE PARTY EUROPE

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FEEDBACK 2018 SO FAR THE PARTY REPORT A few things are customary at this time of year; complaining that it’s too hot, complaining that it’s not hot enough, restocking the inflatables and taking stock of the first half of the year before everyone goes Halloween crazy. PPE spoke to a number of retailers to find out how the party business has been so far in 2018.

ALL ABOUT ACCESSORIES “Business has been good! We’re slightly down on last year with regards to our weekend sales but that is to be expected with the heatwave and the football. For some reason they always affect our sales. The accessories side of our business has been constant though, which is pleasing and hopefully this will continue over the rest of the year. We’ve found that over the past year or so we have seen a huge change in trends with regards to hen accessories. A couple years back we would have seen the majority of our accessory sales being penis-shaped or themed paraphernalia. However we have recently seen a huge demand for the ‘Team Bride’ and ‘I Do Crew’ collections as groups want to have something classier. We’ve put this partly down to the rise in the Instagramability of pretty much everything these days, especially girl’s trips away. Needless to say we do still sell our fair share of willy straws – because who doesn’t love a willy straw?! We have the biggest collection of stag and hen accessories in the UK and have been lucky enough to supply some big names with our products. For example, recently we sent a huge order down to a Radio One DJ for their stag do. Unfortunately I cannot name any names! We are about to launch our new version of the website which will improve our customers’ experience and make everything faster and easier. We’re hoping that now the World Cup is finished sales will increase once again and we will be able to finish the year as well as we did last year. Everyone here works extremely hard to make sure we provide the best customer experience and hopefully that in turn boosts our sales.” JACK ROBSON partnership executive, Last Night of Freedom

Inset: The Greatest Showman costumes have been in demand at JollyJesters.

INVESTING IN THE BUSINESS “Compared to 2017, it’s definitely busier this year. More customers are coming through the door and the feedback we’re getting is that they’ve been let down when buying online, and are returning to proper shops where they can see what they’re buying. Every week we’re hearing of more shops closing and more businesses folding – not just in the party industry, but right across the retail spectrum. If Poundworld can’t make it, then it’s worrying for the future of shopkind as we know it. For trends, we have seen huge demand for both Peaky Blinders and The Greatest Showmaninspired costumes. These have completely replaced Frozen for us. We’ve also made a few business changes this year. We’ve given more shop space over to accessories and less to prepacked costumes. We’ve kept our pre-packed costume stocks lower, but offer a next-day ordering policy. Hires are continuing to increase, but we’ve lowered our hire charges to help keep the momentum on this. What was £18 is now around £15-£16 and pro rata. The shop re-fit was expensive but we’re hoping it will pay for itself

before too long. It also sends out a message that we’re investing in the business, not winding it down. Have to say though how deeply we sympathise with all the shops that are shutting down. If we can keep the momentum going we hope to still be here in 2019. I would like to say that we are hugely grateful to Smiffys and in particular to Shaun Altoft who has understood the problems of

the independent shopkeeper and worked with us to help keep our business going. We now order more regularly and have a much greater monthly spend with them than we did in 2016 (our toughest year). We’re also very grateful to Wicked Costumes and Sancto for their pleasant, friendly, polite and efficient service.” KATE MOORE Jollyjesters Fancy Dress, Derbyshire JULY/AUGUST 2018 PROGRESSIVE PARTY EUROPE

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KEEPING IT FRESH “We have had a steady six months with very few weeks when takings were low. With all the demand for bunting and flags, Royal paraphernalia, World Cup fever, local carnivals, festivals and children’s school history days we have been bouncing from one thing to another for months! The party industry still seems to have a lot of life in it. We have been trading for over 30 years and you must keep up with the times with regular tweets, blogs, facebook videos and stock selections constantly reminding people of new lines. We sell lots of wigs and accessories – items which internet purchases often look like they will include but usually don’t. We also offer a next-day delivery for last-minute requests and have a large stock of hire costumes which include all accessories. We have just had our shop front replaced and added an awning which helps to encourage people to stop and window shop regardless of the weather. Our website is updated on a regular basis and our windows are changed with every coming event, so we keep things fresh and current.We offer discounts as often as possible as well. I think the watchword is flexibility and customer service, we try to go the whole nine yards and beyond. We have worked through three recessions and it doesn’t get much tougher than the last one. All our stockists are brilliant. Smiffys and Bristol Novelty have been especially helpful as I have experienced aggressive tactics from a new competitor. They have both helped me and it has been so helpful to have next-day delivery including Saturdays, my customers are astounded when everything arrives so quickly. We are confident enough to have just renewed our lease for a further five years. We are hoping to go online in the not too distant future so for us the future is rosy.” SHIRLEE GIBBS The Dressing Up Shop, Aldershot

BOOK WEEK BOOST “As a whole our dressup department has traded phenomenally this year. We are +14% vs plan, +2% vs last year. The hype around World Book Day in schools has grown year-onyear and we have seen this in our sales as well. We are looking to grow it next year. Throughout the industry we have seen an increase in options for ‘customer moments’ such as Book Week, Halloween and Christmas. Halloween has seen a move towards more alternative dress-up styles such as unicorns and mermaids. We have also seen this influence licensed dress-up – with consumers looking for gender-neutral and princess-alternative characters. We have seen a natural uplift in our styles due to new innovations and updates to costumes but the most successful lines for us do need the support of a film release. 2019 will be a big year for us due to new releases such as Aladdin and Frozen 2. We expect to have a successful Halloween and Christmas season as we see a great uplift at this time year for dress-up and gifting purposes. Christy’s by Design has Below: A selection of always supported our Matalan’s licensed and generic dress-up ranges. It children’s costumes. continues to innovate and drive new ideas for us which is refreshing compared to some of the other players in the market.” LAUREN GRIERSON assistant buyer, Children’s Licensed Character Fashion, Matalan MAKING A DIFFERENCE “Last year was one of positivity for us as we saw a 21% increase in turnover. The party industry continues to grow, with people spending more than ever per event and although footfall on the high street is dropping noticeably, social media orders and corporate enquiries have risen to compensate. Speciality balloons such as Bubbles, aquas, giant 3ft balloons and personalised products are all doing well – customers are steering away from single printed foils and looking for the wow factor. DIY balloons are so accessible now and people don’t want to be thought of as cheap! We are celebrating our tenth year in business this year and have a new website near completion. We are also closing the shop in August for a week for a new facelift, making it totally up to date and beautiful! The highlight of our year so far was going to Barcelona for CEBA 2018 in March to experience the amazing talents of our European balloon professionals – it was so inspiring. We have also developed our training side of the business with the help and guidance of NABAS and we’re instructing more people in both the basics and the more advanced techniques. I have to give a shout out to GO International for getting both tissue and metallic confetti made and imported for me as well as a number of other items. My bubble balloons are now flying as a result of having exactly what I need! I can honestly say that without that support the last 12 months wouldn’t have seen such a growth in our business. We expect sales to continue to be up for the rest of 2018 with all the new product coming out and keeping ahead of the competition and trends. This year has shown me how believing in your business, focusing on success and being surrounded by like-minded business people can revolutionise your company.” PAULA ARDRON-GEMMELL Pink Tree Parties, Lancashire


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Party Fashion


r e v e N Has N so Beleiceious D


Party Fashion

Viale dell’Industria, 3/C 20020 Busto Garolfo (Milano) - Italy Tel. (+39) 0331 560001 - Fax (+39) 0331 537565 E-mail:

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National UK Wholesaler/Distributor Tel. 01702 447676 - Fax 01702 447677 E-mail:

09/08/2018 11:57

Party Club of America

A European Perspective

Strength In

NUMBERS If you haven’t heard of the party industry’s buying group Party Club of America you could be missing out. PPE spoke to executive director Andrew Richman to find out how European retailers can still benefit from being part of the PCA action.


uying groups – where independent retailers in a particular industry come together – can be an invaluable source of support for smaller retailers, and in that respect the Party Club of America does exactly what it says on the tin. “The Party Club of America is the most entrepreneurial and fastest growing buying group in the party and Halloween industry,” says Andrew, explaining the basics. “Our membership includes brick-and-mortar party supply stores, costume stores, temporary Halloween stores, e-commerce sellers and Amazon sellers. We save our members money by getting better discounts, better freight deals and more rebates than they can get on their own and we deal with more

Left: Executive director Andrew Richman.

Top: The team at PCA embrace the fancy dress theme. Below right: Louis Wittenberg is one of PCA’s European members.

than two hundred suppliers across the party and Halloween industry.” The Party Club of America was formed in 2001, with the aim of creating an organisation which could help independent party and Halloween retailers compete with national specialty chains and big-box retailers. “We initially focused on US-based, brick-and-mortar retailers, but very quickly expanded our membership base,” explains Andy. “Now, we have members from all over the world and they are a very diverse mix of brickand-mortar, multi-channel, pure play E-commerce and pop-up retailers.” Andy has been involved in the retail and wholesale side of the party and Halloween industry for the last 40 years and was working for a retailer which joined the PCA when it first began. He joined the association as executive director two years ago, with the sole intention of making all members’ businesses more profitable. The organisation grew rapidly at first, before peaking at about 400 retailers. Reflecting the numbers of independent retailers in general, PCA membership then contracted slightly during the financial crisis but is now seeing some

“As we all know it’s hard for any independent retailer to get a good deal with many vendors. Of course, it all depends on volume. But let’s face the reality, most independent retailers don’t have the option to buy in bulk! At first I was a little hesitant about joining a buying group, but I’m so glad I did! It’s not only about the better deals, discounts and rebates you get, but the large network of retailers with which to share information is just as important. The group has hundreds of members which can make ‘a fist’ when negotiating discounts with the ‘big boys’. There is also a direct import programme with a lot of opportunities. In the US we are normally lucky to get a small discount of 2 – 3%, but as a member of the PCA, it’s more around 5 – 10%. I’ve been running Louis Wittenburg – one of the oldest party stores in Amsterdam – for the last 30 years. Since joining the PCA I have been able to increase the variety of product we offer, adding things I normally wouldn’t have bought because of the pricing. We extended the shop to three floors last year. I think that almost every independent party retailer can benefit from the power of the PCA.” Francesco Tijnagel, owner, Louis Wittenburg, Amsterdam

encouraging growth again, primarily among e-commerce retailers and has had a ‘very strong year’ so far. Of course, the industry has changed tremendously over the last decade, with increased competition from big box retailers, dollar stores and online sellers – not to mention suppliers selling directly to the public, in competition with their customers. The PCA

Right: The PCA works in conjunction with the HIA and H&P Expo JULY/AUGUST 2018 PROGRESSIVE PARTY EUROPE

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“We know our retail buyers trust and rely on Progressive Party Europe for their news, product information and seasonal focuses the launch of an online service reaching their inboxes will help retailers even more, which is something all suppliers can support.” Tracey Devine, head of marketing and licensing EMEA, Rubie’s Masquerade.

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09/08/2018 11:49

Party Club of America

continuously adds new suppliers offering unique products and has been very inclusive of the different types of retailers who sell party and Halloween products. At the time of going to press, Party Club of America is working with over 200 vendors from right across the party and Halloween industry. “We believe that we can save the independent operator between 5% and 10% on the cost of the product they buy overall, depending on which vendors and Below: The PCA website mix of products they includes a dedicated buy,” states Andy. members-only area. “Over the years, we Bottom: PCA’s members are affectionately known have also grown our as Super Retailers. core programme,” he adds. “Initially, we mostly offered discounts from party and Halloween manufacturers. Now we are also able to offer the best directimporting programme in the industry, with year-round virtual-networking opportunities, discounts with service providers and marketing, merchandising and operational assistance.” “Best of all,” he continues, “we added all these benefits while keeping our fees low. Our members’ return on investment is the best in the business.” So what do PCA members get in return for those membership fees? Most obviously, members are able to secure better deals from suppliers they are already buying from by taking advantage of a combination of discounts, freight savings and rebates. “They can also save considerable amounts of money on direct import purchases of PCA-branded products,” Andy explains, “while our members’ forum encourages a free exchange of ideas on business operations, practices and marketing.” The entire process of directly importing products is all controlled by a distribution centre based in Texas,

which speeds up the process and means that PCA has additional flexibility when handling freight and logistics. On a day-to-day basis, PCA members can make the most of their membership by taking advantage of programmes that offer discounted payment processing, discounted freight options, discounted marketing and web services. “We offer a lot of support,” outlines Andy. “Members only need to ask about a topic and we can discuss one-on-one what choices they can consider to improve their operation. They can then ask the group as a whole to get even more opinions and experiences!” Online networking is the primary tool PCA uses to communicate with its members. “Our private, online community is active, vibrant and positive,” says Andy. “It is amazing to see how much time and care our members put into sharing information and advice with one another. There are many days when the member area of our website looks more like an online university business course on how to operate a specialty retail store than it does a discussion forum! He continues; “In terms of the industry itself, retailers ignore social media at their peril. We not only support retailers who utilise social media tools, we encourage them to do so. There are few better – and cheaper – ways to reach your customer base. But it takes constant tending to really work.” The PCA is also well-situated to help European and international members save considerable amounts on any products purchased from US-based suppliers or direct import. “We have many non-US based members that see the advantages of membership,” concludes Andy. “So if you’re interested in finding out more, just get in touch!” Below: The New Orleans Convention Center where the PCA show takes place.

Inset: Face painting at last year’s H&P Expo.

Members’ Conference and Trade Show The PCA’s Members’ Conference and Trade Show took place in New Orleans earlier this year, during the two days prior to the Halloween & Party Expo. How did it go? “It was a great success! The feedback from our members and exhibitors was universally positive. The event begins with a general, members-only meeting, and is followed by a day-and-a-half-long trade show which follows a speeddating format, giving each member ten minutes with each exhibitor. This format builds community and exposes members and exhibitors to opportunities they might miss in a larger traditional show setting. We have an excellent relationship with the H&P Expo team and most of the HIA members are our suppliers. The co-location benefits our members greatly; rather than having to travel to two separate events, they can see who and what they need to in one place. That helps us get more retailers and exhibitors (particularly party vendors) to New Orleans, which in turn helps the industry as a whole. We also take the time at night during the show to host a a networking party for members and exhibitors – it is a lot of fun, a great opportunity for everyone to spend time together, and is a highlight of the trip to New Orleans for many of us.” The PCA Trade Show will be taking place again next year, from 23 – 27 January 2019, over the two days prior to the H&P Expo. Retailers who want to join or suppliers who want to exhibit should get in touch: andrew. JULY/AUGUST 2018 PROGRESSIVE PARTY EUROPE

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Progessive Party July/August A4 Ad.indd 1 00_PPE_July August 2018.indd 1

01/08/2018 13:30 06/08/2018 14:44

What’s New? al r niv Ka umes 223 t 7 Cos 1253 (0) stu +44 nivalco kar

A nimal Magic

New from Karnival Costumes for the 2018 Christmas season are these childrens’ seasonal animal costumes – as well as the camel and polar bear, yetis and reindeers are also available. Perfect for nativity plays and Christmas gifts, the costumes offer fantastic quality at a great price.

r me Pal ncies 19 1 e Ag 2890

(0) enc +44 lmerag pa

F un Foam

Adding another fun line to its impressive bow is Palmer Agencies, with a fun new range of foam hats in a number of different styles. The collection includes both seasonal and generic lines ranging from this on-trend unicorn design to novelty oversized foam wigs and even a pan of eggs!

What’s New?

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

n pe sucrao 818095000 E m r e 098520 .uk neA Pio l): 011297 T(e0 mrpsa +44 pioneae

F ashion First

This new Fashion range of partyware is part of the Pioneer Party collection and is inspired by up and coming trends, themes and colours. The collection includes Llama, Safari, Arctic, Party Under the Sea, Cactus, Believe in Unicorns, Elegant Party and Birthday Cake lines.

K e U 6655 e r t 1 7 ak


38 m ) 16

(0 eu +44 oaktre

W rap It Up

A new luxury collection of stylish door bows from Oaktree UK are available in seven stunning colours and are ideal for any number of special occasions, from weddings, new baby arrival, anniversary or birthday. The selection offers something for all tastes and requirements.

on Mo tions 99 a 59 Cre 38 52 com

14 ns. (0) eatio +44 ooncr m

G reen Glitter

New bio-degradable glitter from Moon Creations offers an eco-friendly way to use glitter which breaks down a lot faster than standard versions. The biodegradable glitter is available in both chunky and fine glitter in silver, gold, green, blue, turquoise, pink, dark rose and lavender.

n sca 8500 Am1908

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O h Baby!

Party company Amscan has expanded its popular Baby Shower, 1st Birthday and Gender Reveal partyware offering to include seven fabulous new ensembles, including this adorable Twinkle Twinkle range. The collection includes plates, cups, napkins and table decorations.


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09/08/2018 12:15

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09/08/2018 12:35

What’s New?

What’s New From Europe?

6 at Fol 511 250

23 (0) +31 fol

Just Married

A new collection of wedding décor from Folat includes this on-trend Mr & Mrs rose gold line. The super-trendy yet classical range of decorations includes beautiful letter banners, flag banners, door décor, cut-outs, dangling cutouts, hearts, honeycombs, hanging decorations and a giftbox.

dan 10 Go 715 4

500 (0) co +48 odan. g

T he Rainbow Look

A new ‘spilled gasoline’ colour from Godan has already proven hugely popular as it taps into the rainbow trend that is very popular at the moment. The new Galaxy Lights collection includes everything from numeral birthday candles to fun masks and dramatic balloons.

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

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Get Fresh

This fun, colourful print brings a bit of 90s style to the OppoSuits collection. The ‘Fresh Princess’ combines the high quality expected from OppoSuits with the garish look of the decade that fashion forgot. Available for order now, the fresh print is available in both the male and female suits.

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Sea Sirens

Boland Party will be launching over 600 new products in September, but is releasing this new mermaid costume early. This clever take on the traditional mermaid design allows the wearer to move around, making it perfect for anyone dreaming of being a mermaid at the beach or festival this summer.

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Going Batty

The 28” multi-sided 3D Dimensionals bat joined the Grabo Balloons’ Halloween family earlier this year and is ready to enjoy the nightlife! The Dimensional balloons are multi-sided themed balloons suitable for a wide range of occasions, from birthdays and christenings to Halloween and Christmas.

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Sugar Skull Story

This colourful new Dia de Los Muertos collection from Party Deco is ideal for anyone looking to celebrate Halloween in the Mexican party style. The detailed and carefully designed range includes balloons, elegant masks with gold effects, colourful garlands and banners and cups, plates, napkins and treat cases.


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09/08/2018 12:16

Belwo: A colourful exterior makes it hard to miss Smiffys’ European showroom.

In January of this year, fancy dress and party company R H Smith and Sons, brand owners of Smiffys and Fever, opened the doors to its brand new European showroom in Amsterdam. Never one to turn down an invitation, Progressive Party Europe grabbed its passport and went to find out more.



he speed and ease of air travel is one of the many wonders of the modern world. From PPE HQ, which is based just outside London, we calculated that it was quicker to travel to Smiffys’ European showroom than to the company’s base in Gainsborough. And that’s including the time spent getting lost in a nearby Amsterdam industrial estate for no real reason. The showroom itself is just 12 miles from Schipol airport, making it supereasy to access from all over Europe (assuming you actually use your sat nav rather than just relying on a misguided sense of direction). “We were so excited to be able to open a second showroom in Amsterdam,” says Dominique Peckett, director, once PPE arrived. “Europe is a very important market for us and we knew we should be making ourselves more available wherever possible. This new addition is already helping us improve our customer service levels to European customers and makes it much more convenient for them to

TOUR Right: (l- r) Director Dominique Peckett and trade marketing manager Sharon Poulter get comfortable during the showroom tour. Below: Smiffys’ Carnival Collection has been designed to appeal to the whole family and has been created specifically for the European market.

CARNIVAL CRAZY Based on the latest worldwide fancy dress trends, Smiffys has launched a new Carnival Collection – a range of costumes which has been designed exclusively for the European market. The exclusive range is perfect for groups, families and couples and features an exciting range of costumes including sailors, Vikings, Medieval knights, 50s looks and vibrant Flamenco dancers, with versions to suit the whole family. Designed for maximum impact retail display, the innovative collection is packaged on hangers rather than in packets, allowing customers to touch the quality


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materials and get up close to the design details. “We presented the range – which contains more than 60 unique SKUs – at Nuremberg Toy Fair earlier this year and had some really positive feedback,” said Dominique. “It’s part of a trend we are seeing, where there is more demand for family costumes so that parents and children can all get into the spirit of the occasion together!” Carnival Collection is being made available at value-for-money price points while maintaining the premium quality that Smiffys is renowned for.

view the full Smiffys and Fever range.” Smiffys’ biggest markets outside of the UK are Germany, France and Sweden and so Amsterdam was chosen because of its convenience and accessibility to those key territories. “It’s one of the most logical places to base ourselves,” explains Dominique. “The location needed to be accessible for the retailers and buyers flying in as well as our international customer service agents and, of course, ourselves!” Once the right location had been found it then took just three weeks to create the showroom itself. With over 6,500 products on display showcasing the best in costumes, party accessories, wigs and make-up, the collection contains around 80 – 90% of Smiffys total range. Seasonal ranges such as Halloween and Christmas remain on show all year round, alongside the kids’ ranges and new lines like the Oktoberfest collection. At the time of PPE’s visit, around 40 retailers have already visited the new showroom. It’s primarily been European agents using it as a base for client visits so far – the day before our trip there had been two Italian retailers taking advantage of the opportunity to get hands-on with the latest designs. “Crucially, visitors are not always existing customers,” explains Dominique. “The showroom has opened up lots of new accounts for us, right across the Benelux. It’s one thing seeing the full range in the catalogue but it’s completely different seeing it for real. It is something


09/08/2018 12:17

Talking To: Smiffys

European markets, such as Germany and France, that it is starting to overtake Carnival as the biggest party season. “Halloween is a younger concept as it’s new to that territory, so it’s been embraced by the millenial generation,” Dominique explains. Traditionally, Smiffys offers the same lines across all territories, but that has changed with the addition of the new Carnival range, which has been created specifially with the European market in mind (see Carnival Crazy breakout). Hundreds of other new lines are also on display at the showroom, from children’s animal costumes and instant dress-up kits to the bespoke new prints which have been Above: Oktoberfest is really big for Smiffys in Scandanavian countries, with everything from basic lederhosen to the more elaborate lines all selling well. Above right: The new showroom includes all of Smiffys most popular lines and ranges, such as Stand Out Suits, 80s costumes and key licences such as Where’s Wally.

else! Letting people take in the complete range like this really allows them to target what they are looking for and get to grips with what we are offering.” “It’s a particularly valuable opportunity for people who can’t attend Nuremberg as they can come and see us at a time that is convenient for them,” added trade marketing manager Sharon Poulter. “It’s nice to be able to spend time with people too. At shows there’s always an element of being rushed, as appointments can only last so long. When people come to visit the showroom we can really take our time helping them to plan their range and then head into the city for a great evening later on!” The showroom itself is laid out with costumes grouped by theme and a number of displays featuring carefully styled capsule collections of either new or seasonal lines. “We’ve had some wonderful feedback from the customers that have come to visit the showroom so far,” Dominique adds. “It’s almost guaranteed that people will see something they just haven’t noticed before, even if it isn’t a new line! For the most part, the UK and European markets follow roughly similar trends, right

across all of the RH Smith brands. “We tend to find that if a costume is a bestseller in the UK then it sells well in the EU as well,” explains Dominique. “The minor exception to this rule is R H Smith & Sons’ risqué line Fever, which does extraordinarily well in the EU.” While the UK has a head start on embracing the Halloween season, Dominique explains that the European market is rapidly catching up as key trends become a lot more current, in line with the UK and the US. “People here are starting to really enjoy getting into the gory side of things. There’s more of an art to the whole thing, with clever make-up and bespoke accessories, as people go out of their way to make themselves look as unique and different as possible. In the UK the costume trend is still growing for kids. For adults, while there is demand for costumes, we are noticing a strong growth in make-up, accessories and wigs.” Halloween is growing so rapidly in some of the Northern

Right: The new Peter Rabbit dress-up range for babies and toddlers includes a number of different characters from the classic franchise.

CUTE COSTUMES “The baby and toddler area is one we are starting to move more into,” says Dominique. “We are continually developing innovative and exciting lines to ensure we have the best selection available for our customers.” She continues; “We have a new range of toddler dress-up launching soon, and are pleased to announce new licensed ranges with CBeebies favourite Bing, Postman Pat and TV classic Wind in the Willows. Our new preschool and baby ranges of generic and officially licensed dress-up will also include characters from Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit, Roald Dahl and Where’s Wally.”

FANCY DRESS FASHIONS Dominique and Sharon outlined some of the key trends which have been a big focus over recent years and are expected to be significant for 2018/2019 onwards. ■ Make-up has been key. Smiffys has some great new prosthetics and latex lines, as well as gems, glitter and make-up sets. ■ Clowns have been really big news this year and Smiffys portfolio includes both comedy and scary versions. ■ Fruit lines are selling well as are tropical-themed lines, so lots of pineapples and flamingoes. ■ 80s is still definitely the strongest seller of all the decades. The more lurid the design, the better! ■ Top Gun, Where’s Wally, Grease, Baywatch are all key licences across the whole of Europe ■ Pride is growing bigger and bigger each year with rainbow accessories such as tutus, wings and other colourful add-ons. designed for Smiffys’ Stand Out suits. “We’ve introduced lots of separates as well, across all of our ranges, from Pirates to 70s,” adds Dominique, walking PPE through some of the newest lines. “It’s all about giving people choice. This lets them decide exactly what they want to wear and how much they want to mix our lines with their own clothes. They are fantastic quality – we just think the more authentic they are, the better!” Next year will see Smiffys running a series of open days in the Amsterdam showroom in addition to its popular UK roadshow for UK and Irish customers. “It’s a great opportunity to get together and showcase what’s new for the year and what the key themes will be,” Dominique concluded. “I can’t wait!”

Smiffys’ Amsterdam Showroom is just 12 miles from Schipol Airport. Verrijn Stuartveg 28 112 Ax Diemen Netherlands


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costumes available now, call and quote “PP Cat” for more information @Rubies_UK @RubiesUK @rubies_uk @Rubies_EMEA

Call us on:

08453 070707 Browse the full range at 00_PPE_July August 2018.indd 1

06/08/2018 14:49

Brand Licensing Europe 2018

Inset: Brand Licensing Europe is a three-day show, held at London’s Kensington Olympia. Right: The character parade at last year’s BLE features familiar party faces ranging from PAW Patrol through to The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

The Brand

Licensed product has been a cornerstone of the party, costume and Halloween industry for many years, bringing favourite characters to life for children and adults alike. As Brand Licensing Europe celebrates its 20th anniversary, PPE take a look at why Europe’s biggest licensing trade show is essential to the party trade.

BOOST BLE BASICS When: 9 – 11 October, 2018 Where: Olympia, London Website:


nyone who’s anyone in the licensing trade will be heading to London’s Olympia this autumn as Brand Licensing Europe (BLE) opens its doors for the 20th time. Taking place from 9 – 11 October, BLE is the holy grail for all things related to celebrating the product extension of popular brands and characters – and that, of course, includes costumes and other party products. As the only pan-European event dedicated to the international business of licensing and brand extension, BLE is the definitive event for the licensing industry in Europe. Now a well-established date on the licensing industry calendar, the three-day show attracts key industry players from all over Europe. Last year, over 7,500 retailers, licensees and marketers attended the show, taking in the latest

Connecting Brands

“Licensing is important for us and so is BLE. Because we are a global brand it’s great to connect with our licensing partners there who are more focussed on Europe. Also, we are based in Amsterdam so London is not that far away! We are always looking for new trends and that’s why it’s great to meet with our licensing partners in person on BLE. They have the best

news from more than 280 different licensors and licensing agents. This year, exhibitors are expected to display more than 2,500 new and evergreen properties available for licensing opportunities, including characters, brands, images, artwork and designs. According to Progressive Party’s 2017 retail survey, licensed products continue to be a real boost throughout the party industry – it was named as the second-best boost to business over the last 12 months – so it’s worth keeping on top of the upcoming film, television, book and online entertainment releases. In fact, just about anything characterdriven that could culminate in licensed balloons, dress-up, and partyware. Last year saw the power of licensed product continue to be a key driver for the industry, with sales of licensed costumes holding steady and even growing for more than a third of respondents, although they covered a much wider spread of properties than the spike of growth which has previously been seen with Frozen or Minions, for example. So what’s in store for a party Left: Book brands get smart with OppoSuits’ take on Harry Potter.

insights on properties and assets that would be a fit for our brand. Overall it’s good to see that there are a lot of ‘smaller’ licensors/ properties that have found their place within the industry. Social media and online video are playing an important role in that of course as they make it easier for brands to connect with their audience.” Dana Baars, head of marketing, OppoSuits

New Opportunities

“While of course most of my job is to be ahead of what trends are out there; this show is invaluable to further relationships and see licensors showcasing their new opportunities in both party and toy, which for us crosses over a great deal. It is essential for keeping up with the changes and trends in the licensing industry while also reinforcing existing relationships and seeing what other opportunities exist. We are extremely excited to be launching the highlyanticipated Fortnite and L.O.L Surprise costumes soon – watch this space for more exciting news to follow!” Tracey Devine, head of licensing and marketing EMEA, Rubie’s Masquerade Above: Rubie’s boasts a prestigious portfolio of major licences with a number of entertainment partners but its Disney/Marvel superhero lines are always bestsellers.

retailer or buyer at this year’s show? In addition to the usual big names (such as Warner Bros, Nickelodeon and eOne) there will be a host of smaller licensors who – while maybe not so immediately recognisable – look after some of the most prevalent brands for the party industry. “The licensed gifting market has always been strong, partly because the gift category lends itself so perfectly to working with brands,” said Anna Knight, BLE brand director. “According to LIMA’s JULY/AUGUST 2018 PROGRESSIVE PARTY EUROPE

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Make it an Incredible Party!


MOVIE IN UK CINEMAS 13TH JULY Amscan International Ltd. Brudenell Drive, Brinklow Milton Keynes, MK10 0DA +44 (0)1908 288 500 ©Disney/Pixar

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06/08/2018 14:40

Brand Licensing Europe 2018

The Next Big Thing

Right: Collectable toy brands Hatchimals and L.O.L Surprise are key licences for 2018 for Unique Party.

A Competitive Space

“Brand Licensing Europe gives us a chance to see new properties for the first time and to discuss opportunities and developments with our current partners. Above: Pioneer Europe’s Having the right Star Wars Death Star double licence at the right Bubble from Qualatex is a consistently good seller. time can hugely impact our business, not just on increased sales but also as a potential door opener for new accounts. BLE is sometimes the first chance for us to see a new property. Children’s character properties always do well for us and are very important for the party industry as a whole. The rise in game-related licensing is becoming interesting and something we will be keeping an eye at BLE this year. Party isn’t a lead category in licensing, but a solid licensing programme with cross-category partners helps gain exposure in the market which is essential for the party industry. It’s a hugely competitive space for brands to be number one.” Julie Dommett, head of marketing, Pioneer Europe

Below The Radar

“Licensing is at the heart of what we do and BLE is the go-to place for us to seek out potential new opportunities for our licensed party portfolio. It is a great show for understanding what’s going on below the radar and offers a valuable opportunity for the promotion of current and new brands for the party industry to both licensees and retailers. We also get to see what brand activations are in the pipeline and assess these in line with our party

“Licensing can be a total gamble. What proves to be a raging success in some categories sometimes doesn’t translate to others! Maintaining close relationships with licensors and retailers allows us to keep up-to-date and BLE helps us achieve this. Although not an exact guarantee of success, this is a major contributing factor in ensuring the best possible performance of a brand. Ultimately, we’re always looking for 2018 Global Licensing Survey, retail sales of licensed gifts accounts for 4% of the entire global licensing market with a value of $10.4 billion worldwide and $649 million in the UK alone.” She continues; “At BLE, we represent the entire licensing industry with brand owners showcasing character and entertainment, brands and lifestyle, and art, design and image licensing properties, so it’s the perfect place for party licensees and retailers to find the next big thing; the next product that will differentiate their offering to consumers.” Considering what might be of particular interest to party retailers over the coming months, Anna also points out that the children’s category is particularly strong at the moment, saying; “There are lots of lovely characters celebrating anniversaries, which is always a nice way to refresh a product range. Elmer is 30 this year, The Beano is 80, Paddington is 60 and The Snowman turns 40. You can see them all at the show.” So whether you are looking to learn more about the licensing industry, find out the latest trends or discover new brands to work with, Brand Licensing Europe is a must-attend event for everyone in the party product supply chain from brand creation to retailer shelf. For more information about what you can see at this year’s show and to register for free entry, please visit

the ‘next big thing’, as is everyone – exciting brands that fit perfectly into our portfolio. We recently signed Hatchimals and L.O.L Surprise – two truly special brands which reflect the essence of our core target demographic. Since we started attending BLE, our licensing portfolio has grown significantly over the years. We continue to sign major brands, which delights our customers!” Jim Cairns, vice president and general manager, Unique Party

Ideas And Inspiration

“BLE is a great opportunity to meet with new and existing licensors as it allows us to build strong business relationships. There are always exciting announcements and opportunities regarding new film releases and product previews keeping the industry moving and everyone on their toes. Events like this give us lots of ideas and inspiration for product development. Licences play an increasingly important part of our offering. Some of our most popular dress-up characters have been created for Book Week from established titles, ranging from Where’s Wally and Horrible Histories to the most recent successes of 2018, including characters from the World of Walliams, Beatrix Potter and Enid Blyton. We are continually developing innovative and exciting lines, such as an exciting new toddler and baby range launching soon as well as fantastic new licenses such as CBeebies favourite Bing, Wind in the Willows (which resulted from a meeting at a licensing show!) and Postman Pat.” Dominique Peckett, director, Smiffys Above: This Mallory Towers costume from Smiffys offers a modern take on Enid Blyton’s classic literary franchise. Below: It might be almost 15 years old, but Peppa Pig is still a bestselling party line for Gemma International.

retailers and their consumers. It’s all about finding the very best brands for the party arena and matching that with what the consumer wants. Our children’s licensed party ranges are often reflective of how popular a brand is across the spectrum. Leading preschool brand Peppa Pig one of our most successful party ranges, but newcomer PJ Masks is going from strength-to-strength.” Tim Rudd-Clarke, licensing director, Gemma International


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09/08/2018 12:21

Place your order today: +44 (0) 117 972 4012

00_PPE_July August 2018.indd 1

06/08/2018 14:42

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■R obot Train The characters from popular European preschool cartoon Robot Train can now be enjoyed in balloon form, thanks to Grabo Balloons, which has released a wide range of the foil balloons. The license has been agreed for both Italy and Russia and the collection is available at retail now.

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Star Cutouts has a range of new PJ Masks licensed cardboard cutouts and masks. The popular party theme will allow fans of all ages to have Owlette, Catboy and Gekko at their party or event. The collection includes a range of cutouts, a pack of six masks and a fun stand-in. Available now.

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Progressive Party rounds up the latest licensed releases.

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■D ino Dog Following in the oversized footsteps of the internet sensation that is the inflatable T-Rex costume is this addition to the Rubie’s Masquerade range of pet costumes. This Jurassic World dog T-Rex costume comes in sizes ranging from XS to XL, so there’s a canine option for all shape and sizes!

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The team at Rubie’s are betting your bat that customers will love this fang-tastic Vampirina dress, fresh from the Disney Jr television series. Dressed as little Vee, the latest vampire on the block, the webbed dress and bat ears will scare the ghouls and goblins right back – in a nice way!

The latest addition to the OppoSuits licensed suit collection is this Batman Dark Knight design, offering a fresh, modern take on the Batman vibe. Available for order now, the suit, which features a crisp cartoon-style print, is available in both adult and children’s sizes. Perfect for the stylish superhero!

Young fans of Dr Seuss’ infamous Grinch will love this new officially licensed costume from Amscan. Featuring printed lightweight jumpsuit, mask and hat it offers a fun new take for Christmas dress-up and is available for children aged 4-6 years right through to 10-12 years.


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09/08/2018 12:22

Costumes at

Folat BV - Diakenhuisweg 15 - 2033AP Haarlem - Netherlands

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09/08/2018 14:04

Balloon Innovations

Inset: Qualatex Chrome balloons have made a huge impact on the balloon decoration scene this year.

The humble balloon has seen something of a resurgance in popularity recently, with ontrend organic décor, clever twisting and innovative aqua ballons leading the way. With decorators and balloon artists continually pushing the bar and taking creativity to the next level, PPE found out more about the newest product innovations and inventions which have been re-energising the balloon industry.

Invention THE POWER OF


alloons have come a long way in the last few years, with suppliers coming up with new innovations as fast as balloonies can come up with clever ways of using them. But there’s much more to the phenomenon than a selection of new lines and some inventive décor. Balloons retained their position at the top of retailers’ best-selling product areas for the second year in a row in PPE’s annual Retail Survey, showing that their profitability and popularity continues to give them an edge over the rest of the party industry. The survey also revealed that the number of customers asking for commissioned balloon décor is continuing to rise, while ‘premium’ balloons such as Bubbles and SuperShapes have seen a significant boost in business. At the same time,

Left: Oaktree UK offers an exciting range of balloons, such as these helium-filled foil mumber balloons available in three sizes and six colours; silver, gold, rose gold, pink, blue and black. Below: Amscan’s take on the on-trend organic freestanding arch using Sempertex and Anagram Satin Luxe star balloons.

training has never been so easy to access, with exciting décor and sculpture events and official classes, conventions and courses taking place across Europe and the UK with increasing frequency. While well-known for its official certified balloon artist (CBA) training programme, Qualatex has also been leading the innovation charge from the front this year with its breakthrough Chrome balloons, which launched globally at the start of 2018. “The Chrome balloons have opened up a whole new world of possibilities,” says head of marketing at Pioneer Europe, Julie Dommett. “They have had a huge impact on designs and the marketplace since their launch in January this year. They’re highly adaptable balloons and we are seeing people using them in new ways on a daily basis to take their designs to the next level.” “The best way to take advantage of these new lines is to try the products out and push yourself to try them in new ways,” she continues. “Qualatex education courses can help with inspiration too, as you’ll learn from some of the finest artists in the industry.” Conveniently, there’s a new course entirely dedicated to Chrome designs taking place on Wednesday 12

Above: Self-inflating cake toppers from Creative Party are a unique way to add a bit of drama to a special cake.

September in Birmingham – visit to find out more and to book a place. Julie’s a big fan of the current trend for organic décor. “It has really kicked off and it’s been great. It’s setting the trend and is now the must-have style at parties, weddings and just about any event you can imagine. Just take a look at Instagram and Pinterest to see how much it has grown in the last few years!” It’s no surprise that Pioneer’s most in-demand product is the Chrome. “We have constant positive feedback from our customers and continue to see amazing pictures of how they’ve used Chrome balloons to huge impact,” says Julie. “Often innovative ideas don’t just come

Product Pick “The Deco Bubble is an amazing product that can completely change the look of décor, balloon bouquets, or anything that it’s used for. In recent times we’ve seen it used in different ways, filled with confetti, filled with feathers and filled with 5” latex to create a ‘Gumball balloon’. These are great deliverables for stores and can be used at pretty much every occasion!” Julie Dommett, head of marketing, Pioneer Europe


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09/08/2018 12:24

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06/08/2018 14:46

Balloon Innovations

Product Pick “Confetti balloons are proving to be a key line for us, and their popularity is still growing. To keep up with customer demand we increased our confetti balloon offering for 2018 to include more colours, perfect for any occasion. We also included two new giant confetti balloons which are proving to be very popular. Giant latex balloons are also holding their own in the market right now, with the likes of social media inspiring customers to really focus their party decorations. Giant latex balloons with decorative tassels are picture perfect as well.” Jim Cairns, vp general manager for the UK, Unique Party

visual effect and contrast against the latex. They combine perfectly with a mix of different shapes and colours of latex balloons to create an impactful look.” She continued; “Metallic and pastel colours are hugely popular at the moment. Pinterest is a big influence for consumer inspiration, as is Instagram, which continues to rise in popularity.” Amscan became the sole UK distributor for Sempertex latex balloons earlier this year. The range features four different textures across a palette of 60 colours carefully selected to suit any theme and occasion, with recent additions including on-trend navy, mint green and rosewood shades. The Sempertex collection also combines perfectly with Anagram’s decorator foil balloons including the Satin Luxe metallic solid colour collection, which has added five new colour options for 2018; onyx, white, emerald, sangria and amber. “A party isn’t a party without balloons so it’s incredibly important to keep ahead of the game and offer something new and exciting,” enthuses Creative Party’s

Above: The famous 44” ‘Golden Pineapple’ from Qualatex. Right: Godan offers a whole range of printed confetti balloons, ideal for all manner of occasions.

from the product, but the way you use the product, which is why it’s so important to try out new things all the time and get educated on the best practices. We always encourage our customers to push the boundaries – their new design could become the next breakthrough trend!” This year Pioneer released a range of summer fun products, concentrating on a number of on-trend styles such as cactus, toucans, flamingos and a number of other tropical-themed balloons. “The products have gone down really well and we’re glad to see them being used alongside existing tropical products that we have, like our glorious Golden Pineapple,” adds Julie. “For the rest of the year, we have lots of quirky new shapes, 18” and latex designs lined up, as well as some really exciting new Bubbles. There are some fabulous new designs on the way!” Also championing the organic trend is Amscan’s marketing executive, Charlotte Cox. “Organic balloon décor has become a major trend over recent years as it can be created in any colour scheme or altered to suit any occasion,” she says. “Spherical Orbz foil balloons also work well in the organic displays and can be incorporated into the designs for extra

creative and marketing director Holly Forder. “As a business, we look at improving our balloon range constantly, making sure the latest designs are complimentary to today’s trends and that there is a colour choice for everyone.” At the beginning of this year Creative Party launched the first ever self-inflating cake topper, which has been a huge hit with its customers. Initially launched in gold, three new colours are also being launched this year; blue, pink and silver. “Another exciting product to watch out for is our new gender reveal balloon kit,” says Holly. “Expecting couples love to announce such important news in Below: Folat has introduced a range of rectangular and heart-shaped photograms into its range this year, which is ideal to use at parties and weddings as a photo booth.

Above: Two 24” balloons from Unique Party showcasing the confetti and tassel tails which are hugely popular at the moment.

flamboyant ways, and our large 36”, allblack latex balloon will help them do just that, as a simple poke of a pin will reveal a beautiful flutter of pink or blue confetti.” Godan has reported a similar boost in balloon business across the Polish market and is also increasingly organising its own training events for retailers and decorators. “More balloons are being sold in general and we have observed a significant increase in the sales of helium balloons,” says director of organisation Krzysztof Malewski. “We have over 40 franchise stores and according to their figures, numbers and letters of various sizes are very popular at the moment. The bigger the better! One-colour balloons of varying sizes are being used a lot for decoration as well.” He continues; “New high-quality prints on balloons, confetti balloons and transparent balloons are innovative and are all selling well for us as well. “ One of the best things about ballons is their visability and ability to market themselves to the consumer. As suppliers create new solutions, decorators and retailers are able to create brand new balloon displays, which in turn attract attention and demand from the consumer. There’s a reason balloons have formed a cornerstone of the party industry for so many years – and long may it continue.

Product Pick “Our main innovation this year has been the introduction of our own helium tanks, made in the Netherlands and filled with high-quality 99% helium using a highly innovative and safe system. The helium tanks are TUV-certified and meet all statutory requirements. We have also introduced BalloonGaz Balloons, which are the perfect size and come with ribbon in one bag. The BalloonGaz point of sale display is delivered complete with Balloongaz tanks, balloon weights, speciallydeveloped balloons and ribbons.” Angela Reijenga, marketing co-ordinator, Folat JULY/AUGUST 2018 PROGRESSIVE PARTY EUROPE

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09/08/2018 12:24

Focus On: Christmas 2018

The festive season has long been an essential part of the party calendar, as families and friends come together and throw themselves into the celebrations. PPE takes a look at the yuletide trends we’ll be embracing as the winter months begin to draw in. Left: This Santa and reindeer AirWalker from Amscan is 94cm tall and comes in a Satin Luxe finish, perfect for Christmas morning. Above right: This Jolly Santa character design has been created using Qualatex balloons.


ccording to the 2017 PPE retail barometer, Christmas business was fairly strong for the independent party retailer, with business increasing for 27% of those who responded and sales figures holding steady for 40%. It’s encouraging news, especially when supermarkets and discount stores embrace the season wholeheartedly, meaning that party shops need to pull out all the stops in order to compete. “Consumers are looking for fun festive items that reflect the latest party trends,” says Charlotte Cox, Amscan’s marketing executive. “The Christmas season has performed well for us in recent years and is growing year-on-year.”

Stocking Fillers

“In our market, table decorations such as paper plates and cups, are becoming more and more popular. Costumes used to be more popular but accessories and decorations are becoming more important every year. Every year we introduce new designs; this year we introduced sacks and stockings, but also baskets, garlands and hats.” Krzysztof Malewski, director of organisation, Godan Amscan has expanded its festive range, with some great new lines including tableware ensembles, decorations, photo props and party kits, refreshed nativity costumes and an incredible 21 new balloon designs for Christmas 2018. “The additions to our children’s costume collection are particularly exciting.

There are four delightful new nativity lines as well cute donkey and sheep capes and some classic Elf and Santa suits for babies and children,” Charlotte adds. Christmas has always been a strong season for Pioneer Europe, who reports that a rise in Christmas themed décor has seen its sales increase. “Party consumers are looking for ways of being different and standing out from the crowd,” says Julie Dommett, head of marketing. “Christmas product does well but we also see a spike in the use of green, red and white plain latex.” These single-colour latex balloons are used in combination with Qualatex foil shapes such as the Jolly St. Nick and the Christmas Elf – both consistently strong sellers. “These are often used to create fun characters that make perfect gifts,” explains Julie. “They also work really well in shop windows and as POS to entice shoppers in and to spread a little Christmas cheer!” Christmas costumes and accessories also play an important part in the seasonal celebrations, as Danielle Costello, marketing assistant at Rubie’s Masquerade, explains. “A fancydress costume is a staple for any child’s Christmas present. We see a real mix of costumes being sold at Christmas - Disney Princesses are always a hit around this time of year, especially with all the Disney films which are shown on TV! We are seeing consumers buy a lot of extra accessories as well as a costume, so children can fully immerse themselves as they dress up as their favourite character.” It’s not all licensed film and television characters though, Rubie’s also has some Left: These Holiday Buddies from Grabo Balloons are ideal for Christmas parties.


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Stocking Fillers

“We are seeing more people celebrating Christmas together with friends and colleagues in the days before Christmas, so there has been a boost in Christmas parties where people wear funny costumes or accessories like suspenders, hats and tiaras. We have a wide range of Christmasthemed novelty lines for children and adults and they all sell well.” Angela Reijenga, marketing co-ordinator, Folat Right: InCharacter Christmas baby costumes are always best sellers during the celebratory season. Below: A classic Stamco Father Christmas costume, available from Palmer Agencies.

classic Christmas lines such as a traditional Santa or snowman, which also form the backbone of the ‘staple’ themes at Angels Fancy Dress. “Customers are also willing to go all out to really celebrate when it comes to dressing up,” says director Emma Angel. “Rasta Imposta’s over the top Christmas Tree goes down brilliantly at Christmas time and is a great alternative to the more classic Christmas characters.” With customer demand for yuletide product showing no sign of abating, a mix of classic and contemporary Christmas designs should ensure that even the most cautious party retailer has a Christmas to remember. Happy holidays!

Stocking Fillers

“The Christmas market keeps increasing for us and we believe it will grow more over the next few years. Children’s nativity costumes consistently sell well because of school plays, although we have noticed reindeers and snowman becoming more popular recently. Christmas hats and Santa costumes are also always in demand, while photo props and other party items are a big hit at this time of year.” George Morgan, marketing, Henbrandt


09/08/2018 12:25

Focus On: Christmas 2018


Make Christmas even more magical with this new Unicorn Junior Shape balloon by Anagram, available from Amscan.

This wonderfully colourful new Dashing Decorator design from OppoSuits is new for Christmas 2018 and is available in both male and female suits.

New and refreshed nativity lines from Amscan include these delightful angel costumes.

Children’s nativity costumes from Henbrandt perform well every year, thanks to school plays and performances. This range of fun new Santa-themed hats from Boland Party are a popular choice for Christmas parties.

New lines from Godan include Christmas sacks, garlands and a range of fun table decorations and accessories.

Christmas WonderLoons by Grabo Balloons include two linkable 3D balloons: the Linky Reindeer 3D and the Santa Sleigh 3D.

Rasta Imposta’s ‘Get Real Christmas Tree’ tunic has a realistic print design and allows the wearer to drink, eat and open presents with ease.

A fantastic selection of festively themed plates, cups, serving bowls and napkins from Creative Party include the on-trend holly print across these petit four cases.

Best selling products from Folat include this Christmas Tie with LED and Christmas-themed suspenders.

These cute party boxes from Colpac have a wood effect background which give an eco-friendly and Nordic feel, featuring Santa and his helpers these are ideal for children’s Christmas party gifts.

Karnival Costumes has introduced a core range of Christmas lines including best sellers such as Santa Claus and elves for adults and camels, angels, stars and shepherds for kids.

Henbrandt’s Christmas photo props sell well and are a great addition to Christmas parties.


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Focus On: Christmas 2018


Standout lines from Pioneer Europe include these new Qualatex Bubble balloons; the colourful Christmas Ornaments design and the traditional Snowscape and Antique Truck.

The popularity of Fun Shack’s Christmas Lift Me Up range shows no sign of slowing down with Santa being the most in demand.

New to Palmer Agencies for Christmas 2018 is this high-quality line of costumes from Greek manufacturer Stamco. A cute little snowman tutu is new to Widmann’s 2018 Christmas collection and is expected to do well for Christmas parties and celebrations. In anticipation of Disney’s upcoming release The Nut Cracker and The Four Realms, Rubie’s Clara Lavender satin dress will bring the magic of this year’s highly-anticipated Christmas film to life.

The new Goggle Eyes, Chinless Wonders and Bugalugs photo party prop packs from Mask-arade are sure to prove a hit at Christmas. Each pack contains ten unique fun designs and guarantee laughs around the dinner table.

Boppers and other funny accessories are always popular in the build-up to the Christmas season as consumers get into the spirit of things. These reindeer boppers are from Widmann.

This traditional Mrs Claus costume from Fun Shack is always a best-seller.

The new Silver & Gold Holiday Snowflakes ensemble from Unique Party features silver and gold foil which adds that extra sparkle for any festive celebration.

Christmas cello bags always perform well for Unique Party during seasonal periods as people create their own gifts with sweets, ingredients and table favours.

Nativity costumes are always very popular so this year Fun Shack has added a sheep and donkey to expand its offering.

Building on its successful toddler range, Fun Shack has increased its collection of Christmas costumes for this year; adding reindeer, snowman and Miss Christmas.

Kids and adults alike will be able to keep their Christmas party ‘cool’ this year with Unique Party’s emoji ensemble!


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09/08/2018 12:25

Focus On: Fruit Fashion

Inset: Godan embraced the trend with a watermelon range.


It started innocently enough, with a few strategic pineapples and strawberriess dotted about to add a little fruity fun to proceedings. Consumers loved the irreverant look and it didn’t take long before the trend gathered pace; now fruit prints and themes are everywhere, including party products. Here’s the pick of the bunch.



ostume and party trends come and go but occasionally there is one which stands out from the rest. This season’s current obsession with fruit has seen pineapples, watermelons and lemons emblazoned upon everything from t-shirts and swimwear to wall art and home furnishings, so it’s no surprise that the party industry has got in on the act. “The fruit trend ties in perfectly with the summer months and also works with the enduring Hawaiian and tropical party theme,” says Amscan’s marketing executive Charlotte Cox. “The bright colours make this a fun and vibrant party theme that is suitable for children and adults alike.” The theme has been growing in popularity for the last few months but has really come into its own during the summer season. “The trend has performed well for us this year,” continued Charlotte. “We launched a Fruit Salad-themed tableware ensemble earlier this year which has been hugely popular, with the majority of stock already sold through.” In addition to the Fruit Salad tableware, Charlotte reports that Amscan has added a number of lines to its 2018 collection, adding that; “the Anagram Totally Tropical Pineapple balloon has performed very strongly indeed!” Julie Dommet, head of marketing at Right: New fruity tunics from Rasta Imposta make it easy to embrace the trend. Below: Colourful bunting from Folat adds a fresh look.

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Pioneer Europe, puts the surge of interest in the theme down to the current heatwave the UK is currently enjoying/tolerating (delete as appropriate). “These fruity designs fit in really well with tropical themed parties and that’s the kind of style everyone seems to be going for this summer.” Offering a whole range of pineapplethemed Qualatex balloons has been a boost for Pioneer Europe over the last few months. “ Our Golden Pineapple balloon has performed really well,” says Julie. “Pineapples are used as a design more and more in the marketplace and our huge 44” golden balloon is a perfect way to use the tropical fruit as a showstopping decoration.” Krzysztof Malewski, Godan’s director of organisation and optimisation agrees, but offers a cautionary note, pointing out that; “Fruit collections are very popular but trends change quickly. You have to be very careful in choosing which fruit to go for! The trend originally came from high fashion, as fruit appeared on clothes and accessories a few years ago.” Fruit-themed fancy dress is also a popular choice, as Emma Angel, director at Angels Fancy Dress, can testify. “Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube are all a huge influence on trends in fashion, makeup and fancy dress, including the recent fruit trend. Fruit costumes are silly and amusing, making them a brilliant group costume and

Above left: A new line of fruit-based piñatas from Amscan. Above: Easy-to-wear tunics from Smiffys are selling well. Right: The famous Golden Pineapple from Pioneer Europe.

an amazing choice for summer events such as festivals.” She continued; “Although a novelty theme it can also be stylish, which makes it a good choice for so many different products, costumes and events. The Banana Deluxe from Rasta Imposta is one of our bestselling lines, and we’ve added a whole new range of fruity tunics as well!” Also hot on the fruity trend is Smiffys, whose fruity costume collection includes strawberries and bananas for adults as well as peaches and apples for children and will be adding more styles to its collection in the near future. “The Pineapple tabard was the latest addition to our range in 2018,” said senior trade marketing manager Sharon Poulter, “and it has been incredibly popular for tropical parties, festivals and charity events. The tabards can be worn over the top of normal clothes, making them comfortable and easy to wear.” So if your store is missing some funny and trendy costumes, make sure you stock up on a bunch of fruity outfits with long-lasting a-peel. In fact – why not just go bananas?!

09/08/2018 12:29

Focus On: Fruit Fashion

GETTING FRUITY No summer celebration is complete without strawberries and this Baby Strawberry costume from the Travis Dress up by Design collection is available from Amscan. Moon Glow’s ‘Fruity’ neon lip gloss is popular for party retailers during festival season and comes in a range of colours with different flavours such as: Strawberry, Tangerine, Raspberry, Apple etc. Rasta Imposta’s ‘Avocado’ and ‘Avocado on Toast’ are new additions to the collection and offer an unusual twist on the fruit trend. This totally tropical Shineapple suit from OppoSuits makes you look tough on the outside and sweet on the inside just like the beloved Ananas Comosus. Available in both summer suit and regular styles. Widmann’s Mr and Mrs Banana offer a fruity take on the traditional couples costume.

These Pineapple funshades from Amscan are sure to get anyone into the party mood and are perfect for photobooths. This lightweight fruity foam hat from Palmer Agencies takes the concept to a whole new level!

Add a tropical touch to buffets and beverages with these colourful honeycomb fruit themed picks from Amscan.

Fruit is everywhere this year, in both fashion and home décor, so Folat has introduced a line of fun inflatable drink holders in watermelon, pineapple, lemon and lime designs. Qualatex’s impressive 44” Golden Pineapple balloon from Pioneer Europe has performed really well, as have the accompanying range of 18” pineapple-themed balloons which complete the fun, tropical collection. The ‘Watermelon Whimsy’ range from Creative Party brightens up the party table and is perfect for picnics, BBQs, brunches and more.

We’re not entirely sure if this aubergine costume from Palmer Agencies is classed as a fruit, but it’s fruity enough to pass the PPE test. For 2018 Rasta Imposta has added a range of fun lightweight fruit tunic-style costumes, including the ‘Watermelon Slice’, ‘Strawberry Costume’ and ‘Big Kahuna Pineapple’.

To help add a fruity twist to the surroundings, Folat’s décor collection also includes a 6m Tropical Fruit banner and fun fruity honeycombs.


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09/08/2018 12:29

BW859 Flirty Flick Wig Blonde

BW860 Flirty Flick Wig Black

BW862 Flirty Flick Wig Neon Pink

BW884 Elegant Bob Wig Black

BW885 Elegant Bob Wig Brown

BW883 Elegant Bob Wig Blonde

BW887 Elegant Bob Wig Pale Pink

BW886 Elegant Bob Wig Red Passion

BW874 Passion Long Wig Black

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14/08/2018 14:43

Best sellers Chris Mee CAT E G O R Y

PPE asks a number of party retailers to share what’s selling well for them in recent weeks.

Fancy Dress Castle Watford M A N UFACTURE RS/RANGES


Adult Costumes

Hawaiian, cowboy and Mexican. Smiffys

The summer classics have been really string this year, for both men and women. We’ve sold a lot of leis and a lot of ponchos - these are all items that people can wear with their own clothes if they like.

Children’s Costumes

WWII and other historic lines. Rubie’s and Smiffys

It’s dropped off now the schools are on holiday, but WWII was really good for us in the last few weeks of term. Rubie’s generic costumes are really good and were selling very well.


Kim Jong Un mask. Smiffys

This has been selling incredibly well. We have the costume as well, but the mask on its own is flying out the shop. The inflatable missile is often bought to accompany it! Putin is supposed to be ready in time for Halloween so we’re expecting them to sell really well for that.

Balloons (Décor)

Rose gold, glitter and tulle, Anagram Orbz. Amscan and Unique Party

The balloon business is really strong for us at the moment. People love the giant numbers and letters, especially in the rose gold colours. We’re doing a lot more arches and organic-style half arches, they are incredibly popular right now.

Balloons (Retail)

Unicorns, large balloons, centrepieces. Amscan, Unique Party

We are selling a lot of the unicorn foils and Supershapes, they are really strong sellers for children’s parties. Also large numbers and centrepieces for people to take away and dress the room themselves.


Anything Else?


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Unicorns, first birthdays. Amscan

Amscan’s unicorn tableware is easily our best-selling party line at the moment. It’s doing so well because it is suitable for a wide range of ages - from first birthdays through to the six or seven year-olds. And then of course young adults like it as well! There’s a nice wide range of interest.

Football bunting and flags. Amscan

We’re based in the middle of a high street surrounded by pubs and bars so we did really well for this sort of thing. Flags and car flags were popular too, and people couldn’t get enough of the hats, caps, lexis and scarves as well. Interest definitely ramped up as the tournament went on; people were having parties at home and pubs had to refresh their decor!

Rubie’s Masquerade




09/08/2018 12:29

BW876 Passion Long Wig Neon Pink

BW889 Vixen Wavy Wig Blonde

BW890 Vixen Wavy Wig Brown

BW891 Vixen Wavy Wig Black

BW898 Temptress Gothic Wig Black

BW559 Gothic Temptress Wig Purple

BW497 Gothic Temptress Wig Red/Auburn

BW894 Vixen Wavy Wig Pink

BW571 Gothic Temptress Wig Green/Black

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Joy Brothwood CAT E G O R Y

Party Place Cheshire



Adult Costumes

Baywatch costume, Smiffys. Hawaiian lines, Wicked Costumes

We’ve been very busy recently as the Rewind Festival has been taking place nearby the Baywatch costumes have been very popular. Anything lightweight has done well. Everything Hawaiian has been selling very well too - leis, sunglasses and grass skirts all selling through really well.

Children’s Costumes

Pirates costumes. Wicked Costumes, Bristol Novelty and Smiffys

There have been a few pirate-themed events recently so they have created a big demand for us. The Scouts and Cubs have had a big pirate celebration for their 50th anniversary and some schools were doing a few bits as well.

Large numbers and funky shapes. Amscan, Pioneer Europe

We’ve been really pushing balloon decor recently and we’re doing well, with lots of prom and table centrepiece work. Single balloons that are doing well are the huge 34” numbers - we can’t sell enough of those! And lots of funky shapes and designs like unicorns, flamingoes, cacti and palm trees. It’s all very summery!


Rachel Hooper CAT E G O R Y

Bristol Novelty

Pioneer Europe

Dunbar Costumes Caerphilly, Wales



Adults Costumes

Fruity costumes, Smiffys. Fred & Wilma Flintstone, Rubie’s. Carry Me, Wicked Costumes

We’ve done really well with Smiffys’ giant strawberry costume, that’s sold really well for us! Anything summery is selling well and the Flintstones are lightweight so they’ve been popular too. Carry Me costumes are still selling well despite the heat!

Children’s Costumes

Suffragette costume, Smiffys

This has sold so well for us over the summer holidays and we have no idea why! We completely sold out and had to get some more. The sashes are really popular as well it’s such a great costume


Hawaiian accessories, Wicked Costumes

Because its been so hot we’ve had a lot of people just picking up the classic summer lines, so lots of leis and other Hawaiian lines.


Alice in Wonderland, Vegas. Amscan

These have been selling very well for adult parties, they are definitely some of our most popular lines. Themed photo props to match the occasions also sell well.


Basic sets, Snazaroo

We’ve sold a lot of these recently, because its festival and summer fair season. Not so much glitter, it’s been all about going back to basics.

Rubie’s Masquerade Wicked Costumes


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