Toy World spoke to 8th Wonder’s senior business and product development manager, Andrea Gornall, and sales and marketing director, Louise Tyrer, to discuss the company’s expansion plans moving forward.
Though 2020 hasn’t exactly panned out to be the year we all expected, 8th Wonder – which specialises in the design and manufacture of character plush, wooden toys, and nursery and gift products for the global toy market – continues to thrive in its 23rd year as a business. The company has adapted to the challenges presented by the pandemic and is ending the year with a raft of new licensing deals, successful Q4 launches and a strong portfolio lined up for spring/summer 2021. Having already recorded 40% growth this year (at the time of writing), the company is expected to be up by nearly 70% by year end.
“We have had a fantastic year, in fact our best year yet,” enthuses Louise. “Of course, 2020 has come with its challenges, like adjusting to remote working and having to do all of our previews online, via Zoom and Teams. But through it all, the team has been fantastic and really flexible. All of our spring/summer previews were conducted virtually, we have taken steps to support our growth plan and invested heavily in domestic stock for autumn/winter 2020, which will help us end up where we have forecast. We’ve backed strong performers and evergreen properties like Paw Patrol, Hey Duggee and Bing heavily, to support both our existing retailer partners and new partners coming on board.”
As part of its expansion plans, 8th Wonder has strengthened the team this year with 12 new appointments across both the China and UK (Wigan) offices. Andrea Gornall joined the company in May and has since helped the company to grow its licensing presence significantly, to include a raft of high profile names covering a wide array of sectors.
“We have been reviewing the structure of the business and looking at our ambition and growth plans over the last few months,” explains Andrea. “Whilst the company has been in business for 23 years, licensing is something we have only really been doing over the last 2-3 years, and this year we have taken on an additional 10 new licences, which is fantastic. Current releases include our new Paw Patrol wood and plush ranges. New licences in the pipeline for spring/summer 2021 include a partnership with Little Tikes in the role play market, and with Paddington for plush and wood, plus the likes of L.O.L. Surprise!, Minions, Jurassic World and Battersea.”
With the focus shifting heavily into digital marketing for at least the early part of 2021, whilst the UK grapples with the impacts of Covid-19, the company is now seeking agencies to work with to develop its marketing plans. The company is also working hard to make changes to its own showroom in order to maximise its capabilities.
As plans for a productive 2021 get underway, talk turns to the fast-approaching festive season. Although this year’s holiday season has certainly been unique, 8th Wonder has harnessed the opportunities presented over the last few months and launched plenty of new additions in time for Christmas, including Hey Duggee plush chairs and new products across other core properties such as Bing and Paw Patrol.
“We have launched 50 new lines over autumn/winter, which have all experienced a really strong start,” comments Louise. “In this climate, both children and parents have reverted to seeking traditional play patterns. In essence this is perfect for our business, because we are all about traditional toys and sustainability, particularly within our wooden offering. One thing for sure is that Christmas won’t be cancelled, so we will make sure we support our retail partners, whether that be online or in store, by getting stock out to them and getting our message across to consumers in the best possible way.”
“By the end of the 2020, I am positive that we are going to hit our targets and report a successful year, despite things being a bit ‘doom and gloom’ for everyone personally,” adds Andrea. “For me, seeing the results of everybody’s hard work will be a satisfying end to my first leg at 8th Wonder.”
Read the full interview with Louise and Andrea in the December issue of Toy World, here.