A postcard from the beach…it’s the Friday Blog!

Published on: 26th July 2013

I am currently in the middle of a family holiday in the States, but have briefly swapped my rigorous unwinding/tanning regime for a spell on the laptop to bring you this week’s blog.

I did contemplate the blog ‘going dark’ for a fortnight, or even penning a piece in advance, rather as the Queen pre-records her annual Christmas message. But in the end I came to the conclusion that if I did that, something massive was bound to happen, which would rather give the game away. And in any case, writing the blog is one of the most enjoyable parts of the job, so I figured a half hour out of the sun wouldn’t hurt.

At the time of writing, royal birth aside (and respect to the Toy World team, gamely holding the fort back at Alakat Towers, for not running any lame stories about boy George’s arrival sparking some sort of high street boom), nothing massive seems to have happened after all….

Unless you count the massive container ship which sank between Singapore and Jeddah, which apparently was carrying containers from several toy companies. So buyers, if anyone tells you their stock is late because the ship sank, it might not be just a flimsy excuse after all (the best excuse my wife ever heard when she was a buyer was that a delivery was late because “the ship sailed the wrong way round the world”!).

Earlier in the week we reported on speculation by analysts that Mothercare was contemplating selling off the Early Learning Centre chain, after which I received a private email from a well-positioned source suggesting that the speculation may well turn out to be unfounded. We’ll keep you posted as and when more concrete information becomes available. Personally, I still think the ELC brand and stores have tremendous potential if handled correctly.

On the subject of concrete information, I received word via a supplier – one who I trust implicitly when it comes to passing on information from around the trade – that certain Tesco employees are denying recent press reports which stated that the retailer will be scaling back its in-store toy space. Indeed, one Tesco employee apparently even went so far as to blame “hacks” for “taking it out of context” and “doing a Daily Mail” (whatever that means) on the subject matter. There’s actually a remarkably easy way to resolve this: I’d like to publically invite Tesco to tell us exactly what is actually happening, and we promise to report the information faithfully and without bias. The simple fact is that without accurate information, people will speculate, and the press will pick up that speculation. We have previously contacted Tesco to ask them if they would like to comment on the
speculation, but as yet they haven’t replied. So if they would like to do so, we would be more than happy to put the record straight (if indeed the record needs putting straight).

Elsewhere, Argos is the latest retailer to unveil its Christmas predictions, with a top 12 list unsurprisingly dominated by the major toy companies and heavy-hitting brands. Indeed, a broad consensus already appears to be developing with regard to the likely festive volume sellers.

We quietly celebrated a milestone of our own this week: Alakat Publishing – the company behind Toy World – started trading two years ago last Wednesday. A most enjoyable two years it has been too. Hopefully by the time you read this our August issue will have arrived on your desk (if not, it will certainly be there in the next day or so), and back at the ranch – you can tell I’m in America, can’t you? – work is now underway on our bumper second birthday issue for September. If you haven’t yet advertised in Toy World (and there really is only a tiny handful of toy companies to which that comment applies), perhaps this special birthday edition is the one where we can finally welcome you onboard.

I’m heading back out to my sun bed now, have a fantastic weekend.