John Lewis scraps staff bonus following major cutbacks

John Lewis is also developing plans to reduce the size of its Oxford Street flagship store in London, converting almost half of the store into offices.

John Lewis

The John Lewis Partnership confirmed this week that staff members will not receive a bonus for the first time since 1953, following a raft of store closures and job losses amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The group posted a £55m loss for the six months to July 25th after higher costs offset an increase in revenues. The group further announced it would be closing four branches of Waitrose, losing more than 250 jobs. 1,300 jobs have already been put at at risk following the announcement of eight John Lewis store closures back in July.

Dame Sharon White, chairwoman, John Lewis partnership, told partners on Thursday that the absence of a bonus this year “will come as a blow”. She commented: “The pandemic has brought forward changes in consumer shopping habits which might have taken five years into five months. Both brands entered the crisis with strong and established online businesses and in the case of Waitrose, plans for expansion well under way in preparation for the end of the relationship with Ocado. Our digital businesses have been key to underpinning our first half performance.”

Meanwhile, John Lewis is working on plans to reduce the size of its Oxford Street flagship store in London, converting almost half of the store into offices. The new plans will result in a reduced retail footprint which will help curb the business’s losses.

The staff-owned department store has applied for planning permission to change up to three floors, those currently home to children’s ranges, electrical goods, kitchen and bathroom departments as well as dining areas, into office space for rent.

Plans filed with Westminster council leave four floors of retail space below the three new office floors. A new cycle parking area is planned in the lower basement, and the store’s roof garden dining area on the sixth floor is to be retained.

John Lewis said it had no immediate plans to alter the building on Oxford Street, where it has traded since 1864, but was seeking planning permission to give it options in the future. If approved, the planning permission would last 10 years.

Sharon has said she would look at downsizing stores as part of plans to reshape the group for the future.

PMI prepares to launch Series Three of its Fortnite range

Singleton Trading will be distributing the latest series of the collectible Fortnite line within the UK.

PMI series three Fortnite

Following the successful launch of Series 1 and 2 in 2019, which received positive feedback from retailers across the toy and entertainment industry, PMI is now gearing up for the UK launch of Series 3 of its Fortnite range this month. The line features stationery collectibles with items including stampers, highly detailed 3D figural key chains and more. Products in the range are available in foil bags, blister packs and as multi-pack purchases, offering high collectability value.

Series 3 sees 16 new Fortnite Outfits join the range. Epic Games has selected the assortment of characters that make up the multi-packs, grouping together characters that players would want to purchase together.

Omer Dekel, VP international sales at PMI, told Toy World: “We’re delighted with the success of the previous two series of the Fortnite range, and we’re confident that Series Three won’t disappoint those waiting for the next wave of collectibles to land. We’re also pleased to be working with Singleton Trading on the UK distribution of this and other lines from our portfolio. It’s a great partnership, and one that we’re excited to be expanding with this latest series.”

Alpha Group UK’s Super Wings Summer Campaign hailed a success

Alpha Group UK’s summer campaign coincided with the run-up to the launch of Super Wings Super-Charge new series four on Tiny Pop. 

Alpha Group UK Super Wings Summer Campaign

With families kept from going abroad as they might normally do this summer, Alpha Group UK helped fill the void with its Super-Charge Your Summer Campaign across its Super Wings Facebook and Instagram social media platforms. Organically reaching over 80,000 families, with a variety of interactive activities, the campaign offered little ones a collection of activities to Super-Charge their Summer in the run-up to the launch of Super Wings Super-Charge new series four on Tiny Pop.

Working in unison with a collection of family bloggers, the campaign offered some light relief for those who had seen their original holiday plans impacted by coronavirus restrictions. Inspired by the hit pre-school show, activities included going on an adventure, paper airplane races, learning to say hello in different languages and a full variety of hands-on activities, as part of a drive to encourage families to keep active and create new adventures.

Throughout the campaign, parents shared their images of their Super-Charged Summers for a chance to win a collection of Super Wings toys and a £100 gift voucher from retail partner, Smyths Toys.

The campaign also complemented the brand’s involvement with the Department of Education’s Hungry Little Minds initiative. Signature Publishing’s Super Wings magazine is actively encouraging children and parents to play together and engage in the different activities, reflecting a continued commitment from Alpha Group UK to unite families through learning and play.

Kerry Tarrant, marketing manager at Alpha Group UK, commented: “With lockdown uncertainty thrust upon families, Super-Charge Your Summer was our way of giving back to families and offering them a great way to play together, explore, and learn with free brand assets, games and competitions, prior to schools returning in September. To see over 80,000 families engage and get involved, was fantastic and a huge testament to the strength of the brand as we launch Season 4 on Tiny Pop and Cartoonito.”

The Super Wings Super-Charge posts are available to view on the Super Wings UK Facebook and Instagram channels with a collection of downloadable free activities in partnership with Signature Publishing available to download from the Alpha Group UK website.

Mega Show Series 2020 is cancelled

The Mega Show Series, originally scheduled to take place next month, has been cancelled amid ongoing coronavirus concerns.

The Mega Show Series

The  show series includes several important sourcing trade events in the Asia-Pacific region. Taking place in Hong Kong, the events cover gifts, premiums, housewares, kitchen & dining, lifestyle products, toys & games, Christmas & festive, sporting goods and stationery

The organisers released a statement this week to registered attendees. The email reads:

“Dear Valued Buyer,

Our warmest regards to you and your family. We hope you are all safe, healthy and doing well amidst the current Covid-19 pandemic challenge. Thank you for pre-registering to visit our 2020 Mega Show Series.

We are sorry to inform you that in view of the uncertainties and disruption caused by the still ongoing pandemic, we, as the Show Organiser, decided that the Mega Show Series will not take place as previously scheduled on 20th-23rd and 27th-29th October, 2020. The show series will return to be held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre on 20th-23rd and 27th-29th October, 2021. All buyer pre-registrations and sponsorship applications for the 2020 event will automatically be transferred over to the 2021 show.

Thanks again for your support to our Mega Show. Let’s stay safe, stay healthy and stay tuned. We look forward to welcoming you to our Mega Show Series in 2021. Should you have enquiry, please feel free to email us at: cs@comasia.com.hk.

Yours sincerely,

Comasia Limited”

Spin Master secures licensing agreement with Riot Games

Spin Master will be the global master toy licensee for Riot Games’ League of Legends franchise, with new products expected in autumn 2021.

Spin Master League of Legends Riot Games

Spin Master has announced a multi-year agreement to become the global master toy licensee for Riot Games’ League of Legends, the most-played PC game in the world. Spin Master will develop products including action figures, playsets and role play items, with an anticipated on-shelf date in autumn 2021.

Entering its second decade, League of Legends is a team-based, multiplayer online strategy game where two teams of five powerful champions face off to conquer the other’s base. Players choose from over 150 champions to make epic plays and take down towers as they battle their way to victory.

“Spin Master is excited to collaborate with Riot Games to bring innovation and meticulous attention to detail to the rich characters and unique worlds in League of Legends,” said John Blaney, Spin Master’s senior vice president of licensing. “Our League of Legends line up will appeal to fans of all ages, delivering high-quality products on the cutting edge. We look forward to delivering enhanced collectability and unique play experiences for the massive global League of Legends fan base both on and offline.”

“Spin Master is the perfect partner for the League of Legends franchise and together we have the opportunity to enhance our champions and their stories giving players the opportunity to go even deeper into the League of Legends universe,” added Christian Bayley, director, brand management for consumer products at Riot Games.

The agreement was brokered by CAA-GBG, the global licensing representative for Riot Games. “We are excited to have brought together two powerhouses in gaming and toys,” said Robert Schwartz, vice president of sales and new business development, CAA-GBG. “Spin Master’s passion for the League of Legends IP stood out as a key differentiator, and we are excited to go on this journey with Spin Master and Riot Games.”

Voting now open for the Toy and Game International Excellence Awards

This year’s Toy and Game International Excellence Awards (TAGIES) features eight categories and 80 nominees and honorees. 

People of Play, the international toy and game community leader formerly known as the Chicago Toy and Game Group, has announced the finalists for the 2020 Toy and Game International Excellence Awards (TAGIES). The 13th annual TAGIE Awards will honour the best innovators, designers, marketers, retailers and suppliers in the toy and game industry. This year’s awards, sponsored by Hasbro, The Michael Kohner Corporation, PlayMonster, Cartamundi and Nexttoy, are more inclusive and bigger than ever, featuring eight categories and 80 nominees and honorees.

Winners will be revealed during a virtual awards show on Friday 20th November at 7pm CT. The 90-minute programme includes award presentations, acceptance speeches, musical guests and an opening act that gives a nod to David Blaine’s recent Ascension stunt.

“This year has been pivotal and unprecedented for our industry. We look forward to coming together with our colleagues from around the world and celebrating our individual and collective successes,” said Karri Bean, TAGIE Awards host and senior manager, licensing at Disney experiences and consumer products. “The TAGIE Awards will be a night to remember that no one in the toy and game industry should miss.”

New for 2020, immediately following the TAGIE Awards, toy and game industry professionals get an opportunity to show off their talents at the TAGIE after party, POP’s Got Talent, featuring magic from Danny Kishon, president at All in 1 Products, and Jim McCafferty, founder of JMP Creative and professional inventor Mark Setteducati. Randy Klimpert, chief creative at Creata performs and shares his ukulele and guitar collection. Plus, see the latest peanut art from Steve Casino.

This year’s categories are as follows:

  • Toy Inventor of the Year
  • Game Inventor of the Year
  • Rising Star Inventor of the Year
  • Young Inventor of the Year (Under 18 years old)
  • Art and Design Visuals of the Year
  • Innovative PR and Marketing Team of the Year
  • Most Innovative Retailer of the Year
  • Most Innovative Supplier of the Year

People of Play will also honour Erno Rubik, the inventor of the Rubik’s Cube, with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Inventors Norman and Arlene Fabricant will be honoured for Celebration of Life and Lifetime Achievement respectively.

The Roachy Fund, a scholarship fund founded in honour of Alan Roach, an acclaimed and loved game designer, will be the recipient of the Hassenfeld Humanitarian Award.

Click here for the full list of nominees and for public voting, open from now until 30th October.

Funko Europe to launch Pokemon Pop! vinyl figures

The Funko Europe Pokémon collection will kick off with the launch of Pikachu and Bulbasaur Pop! Vinyl figures, with further additions to come in 2021.

Funko Europe Pop! Pokemon

Funko has announced it will be partnering with The Pokémon Company International to launch a Pokémon collection of Pop! Vinyl figures from this October.

Pokémon is one of the world’s largest entertainment franchises and has been for over 20 years. The Pokémon family of products includes video games, trading card games, an animated TV series, movies and consumer products.

The hugely anticipated collaboration will kick off with Pikachu and Bulbasaur Pop! Vinyl figures from October, with further additions to follow in 2021. The first collection of figures will consist of a Pikachu 4” Pop! Vinyl, a Pikachu 10” Pop! Vinyl, a Bulbasaur 4” Pop! Vinyl and a Bulbasaur 10” Pop! Vinyl.

Andy Oddie, managing director of Funko (EMEA), commented, “One of the most exciting new opportunities for Funko this side of the Atlantic, we are beyond delighted to bring the Pokémon Pop! Vinyl line to life for our European fans. This is just the beginning, watch this space.”

Mathieu Galante, licensing director at The Pokémon Company International (EMEA) added, “Both Pokémon and Funko are iconic pop culture brands and we are thrilled that this collaboration will, for the first time, provide fans across Europe the opportunity to add a new dimension to their Pokémon experience.”

The Pikachu and Bulbasaur Pop! Vinyl figures will be available from October, with listings in leading European retailers; Smyths Toys Superstores (UK & Ireland), Toys Center (Italy), Fnac (France), Müller (Germany), Salling Group – Bilka BR and Føtex (Nordics) and El Corte Inglés (Spain).

Basic Fun! appoints Emergent Retail

The team will be supporting Basic Fun’s Amazon UK sales efforts across key product lines and brands.

Basic Fun Emergent Retail

Threepipe Reply’s specialist Amazon division, Emergent Retail, has been appointed by Basic Fun UK.

The team will be supporting Basic Fun’s Amazon UK sales efforts across key product lines including: K’Nex, Cutetitos, Fisher Price Classics and newly launched brands Care Bears, Pound Puppies and Tonka. The Emergent team will be ensuring that all products are fully optimised to drive organic visibility across the key Amazon categories, as well as creating a supporting AMS campaign to drive new customer sales and revenue growth.

Joanna Lambadjieva, Emergent Retail, commented: “It’s great to be working with the Basic Fun team to help them maximise the sales opportunity in the build up to the Christmas period. We will be targeting not just parents but also gifters who are looking for ideas.”

Holly Lackey, head of UK marketing, Basic Fun!, added: “The Emergent team’s expertise and unique technology make it a great partner for us, as we look to build on our great sales momentum into the build up to Christmas. Just a few weeks in and we are already seeing the benefits of working with the team.”

Gibsons expands team with new hires

Multiple new hires have been made in various roles across Gibsons’ business following a successful retail period for games and puzzles. 

Gibsons new hires

Gibsons, the British, independent games and puzzles company, has welcomed three new members to the team. The company was already experiencing a period of steady growth, which has accelerated due to the nation turning to puzzling during lockdown. These appointments join two new employees recently appointed to cover maternity leave.

Savannah Davenport and Avina Jayram join the team in the new roles of customer services, website and social executive, and assistant accountant. Savannah’s role is primarily focused on customer service for the Gibsons’ website as well as providing social media support. Avina will assist with financial reporting commitments, as well as developing new processes and efficiencies as the business continues to expand.

Ravinder Rai has been appointed as operations manager and brings with her experience working with major retailers, including Amazon.

Zoe Walsh joins the team as junior international account manager to cover for head of international sales, Alice Tournaire, as she goes on maternity leave. Zoe brings experience from her previous role at Talking Tables, where she was account support for UK and Ireland, and will build and maintain relationships with retailers overseas.

Gibsons product development manager, Emily Charles, is also going on maternity leave, so Emma Kilby, also joining from Talking Tables, has been appointed to manage the development of new puzzles and games over the coming year.

Kate Gibson, managing director, comments: “We are delighted to welcome Ravinder, Savannah, Zoe, Emma, and Avina to the Gibsons team and are excited to see the business develop further over the coming months.”

Lisle Licensing welcomes Becky Sherwood

Becky brings to Lisle Licensing a wealth of brand experience and retail account management.

Lisle Licensing Becky Sherwood

Lisle Licensing has announced a new role within the business, and the appointment of team member, Becky Sherwood, who joined the business in August as commercial and retail manager.

Becky brings to Lisle Licensing a wealth of brand experience and retail account management. With over 10 years’ experience across multiple sectors, which ranged from FMCG to fashion and accessories, she has a breadth of insight across multiple disciplines including product development and key client management, skills which are transferable to the licensing industry. In the past 10 years Becky has worked at Swatch Group as the UK & Eire wholesale manager, to account managing the influencer fashion brand The Couture Club, and supplying key online retailer Asos.

Becky will focus on two new licences which Lisle will be announcing in the coming weeks, as well as developing the UK retail cross category relationships across the Lisle portfolio.

Commenting on the appointment, Francesca Lisle, director, said: “Becky has an all-encompassing approach and instinct as to what’s needed to make a successful brand; her joining the team makes for  perfect timing as we celebrate our 10th anniversary and look forward to making some key business announcements in the coming weeks.”