Groupon announces plan to stop selling goods by the end of 2020

The company will focus on selling experiences rather than products, after concluding it was “not well-positioned in a saturated retail market.”

In a statement accompanying its financial results for Q4 and full year to December 31, 2019, Groupon provided details of its plan to exit its Goods category, which includes toys, to focus on the local experiences market opportunity from the end of this year.

Groupon CEO Rich Williams commented: “We did not deliver the financial performance we expected during the fourth quarter and we recognize we must move swiftly to put Groupon back on a growth trajectory. Groupon is a leader and trusted brand in the highly fragmented, $1 trillion local experiences market. We believe our plan to exit Goods will allow us to dedicate the focus and resources necessary to build a winning position as the purchase of experiences continues to migrate online. Throughout 2020 you’ll see a stronger Groupon emerge, with broader inventory, modernized products, a refreshed brand, new ways for merchants to partner with us to grow and a leaner organization. Success in these areas will be key to achieving our goal of reigniting billings growth.”

In a letter to shareholders, Rich Williams offered further insight into the decision: “ After a comprehensive review of opportunities and strategic alternatives, we determined that a plan to exit the Goods category and focus on our local experiences marketplace best positions us for long-term and sustained growth. We believe this plan will allow us to devote the focused execution necessary to take share in the growing local experiences market. This market, which we estimate to be north of $1 trillion, is highly fragmented, growing, and migrating quickly from offline to online. Currently, we are a market leader, yet we have less than 1% market share. In addition, our 2019 Goods category performance, particularly in the fourth quarter, has made it increasingly clear that we are not well-positioned in a saturated retail market.”

It is not yet known how long existing Groupon buyers will remain in their current roles.

Senior leadership reshuffle at Spin Master

The moves will help position Spin Master for the next phase of growth.

Spin Master has announced a series of global senior leadership changes, which the company says are designed to optimize Spin Master for growth, with a renewed commitment to operational excellence as it continues to execute against its long-term strategy.

Ben Gadbois, who served as global president, COO and board director, is to step down, as is Bill Hess, executive vice president, Global Operations and chief information officer. During their tenure, both Ben and Bill were instrumental in establishing Spin Master as a diversified global business.

Paul Blom has been appointed as the interim executive vice president, Global Operations and Technology, and will be responsible for leading Spin Master’s operations and IT teams across Asia, Canada, the US, Europe and Mexico. Tara Deakin, SVP Talent Management, will become executive vice president, Human Resources and chief people officer.

Ronnen Harary, Spin Master’s co-founder and co-CEO said: “We would like to thank both Ben and Bill for their significant contributions to Spin Master’s growth over the past seven years. We welcome Paul to the Spin Master leadership team and congratulate Tara on her appointment. Both have deep management experience and a proven track record of leadership. Paul is an agile and collaborative leader who brings strong operational expertise. His passion for excellence, paired with his extensive experience working with global teams makes him a strong addition to our leadership team.”

Anton Rabie, co-founder and co-CEO added: “Both Ronnen and I want to take this opportunity to thank our employees globally for their continued hard work and dedication. We are thrilled to announce Tara’s promotion to Chief People Officer. Tara is a transformational leader who will help position us for the next phase of our growth. Her appointment marks a critical moment in Spin Master’s evolution and our recognition of the need to raise the bar in leading, managing and developing our key asset – people.”

All Beales stores to close as no buyer comes forward

The final 11 department stores are set to shut, and a further 20 staff made redundant at Beales head office.

After going into administration last month, the retailer announced plans to close 12 of its 23 shops. Now, the remaining 11 stores have been earmarked for closure, with the loss of many more jobs.

Administrators at KPMG are continuing discussions with “a number of interested parties” over a sale, but are preparing to close the remaining stores after failing to receive any “deliverable offers”. The stores are expected to continue trading for around two months while closing down sales take place, with staff being retained during this period. KPMG added that, if a sale is not achieved, the closure date of each store will vary, depending on trading performance.

A further 20 staff have also been made redundant at Beales head office.

Will Wright, joint administrator for the company, said: “We’d like to thank all Beales employees for their wholehearted support and assistance during the administration process. We understand that the failure to achieve a sale so far will come as disappointing news, but can assure them that we will continue in our efforts to secure some form of positive outcome.”

Panini launches new Official Adrenalyn XL Trading Card collection

The collection features the stars of all 20 directly qualified teams.

It’s almost time for the Euros, and Panini is gearing up for the much anticipated tournament with its brand new Official Adrenalyn XL Trading Card Collection – the only official trading card collection of the UEFA Euro 2020. The stars of all 20 directly qualified teams, and the UK and Eire play off contenders, all feature in this collection which contains 468 high quality trading cards.

The collection includes new features that make it even more exciting to for fans to collect and play: Captains cards dedicated to the 20 team leaders, European football’s emerging talents (Wonder Kids), the tireless All-Round Players, Line-Ups of each nation and the Magic Moments on the road to qualification. There are five categories in the collection: Base, Fans, Power-Up, Multiple and Rare, each printed on a different material.

Collectors can kick-start their collection with a starter pack which includes 24 trading cards, two limited edition cards, a collector’s album, game board and game guide, including a checklist. There are also free online game codes on every card for collectors to redeem.

The collection will be supported by a multi-faceted marketing campaign including a heavyweight TV and digital campaign, a national newspaper promotion, nationwide sampling initiatives, print advertising as well as a dynamic social media campaign. There will be investment at retail across key listings.

News of the exclusive tournament Sticker Album collection will be announced shortly.

Asda’s Christmas sales hit by ‘cautious’ spending

Asda has said customers were “cautious” over the Christmas period as it revealed that sales fell in the final three months of last year. 

The supermarket chain’s like-for-like sales, which excludes takings at new stores, were 1.3% lower than the year before.

“Whilst customers were enthusiastic for Christmas, they were more mindful in their spending,” said CEO of Asda, Roger Burnley. However, on a positive note for the toy industry, he said that many Christmas shoppers choosing to pare back their gift lists did so with a focus on buying presents for children, rather than adults and extended family.

Roger added: “We continued to improve our price position versus the previous quarter, and year on year, whilst our trusted combination of great value and quality ranges with a touch of Asda personality resonated strongly with customers.We’re ambitious to deliver even more for customers in 2020 and have entered the year with an even sharper focus on driving forward our strategy, which is anchored in saving our customers time as well as money.”

PRCA welcomes Playtime PR as newest corporate member

Playtime PR has a core team of 15 consultants, working with global toy companies including Bandai, Moose Toys and Asmodee. 

The Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) has welcomed award-winning virtual agency Playtime PR as its latest Corporate Member.

Playtime PR specialises in working with toys and games brands, and prides itself on offering genuine flexible work solutions for experienced and talented PR professionals. With a core team of 15 consultants currently working across major global companies including Asmodee, Bandai, Moose Toys and Zuru, the company boasts a wealth of industry understanding.

Founder and managing director of Playtime, Lesley Singleton, said: “It feels to me that the PRCA is really evolving and much more relevant to our business now than ever before. Virtual Agencies like ours are proving to be key players in the PR industry and I want to ensure our team has access to the wealth of resources, training and events offered by the PRCA so that we can continue attracting great brands and delivering brilliant campaigns.”

She added: “After six years of continual growth, I’m confident our membership is going to help take the agency to the next level and further cement our reputation as the best agency for toys and games brands.”

Francis Ingham, PRCA director general, said: “I’d like to extend a warm welcome to Playtime, our latest corporate member. Lesley and her team’s decision to come on board with us demonstrates the great value our membership provides to agencies with hybrid location and flexible working models. I look forward to seeing the agency take full advantage of the training and networking opportunities.”

Steamforged Games appoints Toby Davies as commercial director

Before joining SFG, Toby spent three years at Games Workshop and seven years at Trunki.

Toby Davies, previously head of sales (Global Distribution and Partners) at Games Workshop, has taken up his post as commercial director at tabletop games developer and retailer, Steamforged Games (SFG).

Before joining SFG, Toby spent three years at Games Workshop and seven years at Trunki. In both roles, Toby forged new distribution channels and handled distributor and retailer relations on a global scale.

In his role as commercial director for SFG, Toby will join the board alongside Ian Livingstone CBE, co-founder of Games Workshop.

“I’m thrilled to be joining at such an exciting time for the business” said Toby. “We’ve got an excellent pipeline of products planned over the next few years with a great mix of IP, price points and channels of distribution to go after.”

Toby’s new post at SFG comes following the company’s success developing tabletop versions of popular video games such as Horizon Zero DawnTM, Resident Evil II and Ni no Kuni II, in addition to original tabletop miniature games such as Godtear and Guild Ball.

SFG co-founder and CEO, Rich Loxam, said: “It’s fantastic to have such an experienced person joining the team. Toby is a key part of our growth strategy and product lines going forward.”

One such product line includes the recently-announced Animal Adventures Kickstarter campaign, Secrets of Gullet Cove, which reached its funding goal within twenty minutes of its launch on January 28th 2020.

Masters of the Universe cast announced

The new series will focus on the unresolved storylines of the iconic characters, picking up where they left off decades ago.

Netflix and Mattel Television have announced the cast of the upcoming Netflix anime series, Masters of the Universe: Revelation, a series based on He-Man, Skeletor, Teela and the other classic characters of the Masters of the Universe franchise.

A number of well-known actors have signed on to the project, including Mark Hamill (Star Wars, Batman: The Animated Series) as Skeletor; Lena Headey (Game of Thrones, 300) as Evil Lyn; Chris Wood (Supergirl, The Vampire Diaries) as Prince Adam / He-Man; Alicia Silverstone (Clueless, Batman & Robin) as Queen Marlena and Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Cruel Intentions) as Teela.

Executive producer Rob David commented: “Masters of the Universe: Revelation is for the fans. Showrunner Kevin Smith, as well as the rest of the all-star cast, share our love and passion for the iconic franchise and the deeper meaning of the property. At its core, Masters of the Universe is all about wanting the power to be the best version of yourself, and the series will bring this message to life in an entirely new way.”

Kevin Smith added: “I cannot believe the line-up of talent I get to play with. The incredible, star-studded cast will let any lifelong He-Man fan know that we’re treating this cartoon seriously and honouring the legendary world of Eternia with A-list talent. With these fantastic performers behind our characters, it’ll be easy to immerse yourself in the swords and sorcery of our epic sci-fi soap opera.”

The Pokémon Company launches pop-up in Harrods

Running until March 13th, Pokémon has taken over the pop-up space in the store’s fourth-floor toy department.

The Pokémon Company International has launched a month long pop-up in the store in Knightsbridge, London and is including a host of Pokémon activity to keep fans entertained over half term and beyond.

The pop-up opened on Friday 14th February, with a special area themed on the Galar region, which is a UK-inspired new region from the recent Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield video games. Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield are the fastest-selling Nintendo Switch titles, with more than 6m units sold worldwide during last November’s launch weekend, with global sales now totalling over 16m units.

The pop-up features a wide range of Pokémon products, including toys, the Trading Card Game, stationery and accessories. Activities planned for the month include giveaways and character appearances from Pikachu and friends providing photo opportunities for fans and families, a screen showcasing the TCG and toys and additional surprises planned to mark Pokémon Day on 27th February.

Mathieu Galante, licensing director EMEA at The Pokémon Company International, said: “We are delighted to be returning to this iconic store for another Pokémon pop-up. We were thrilled with the response to our previous pop-up at Harrods in May and are looking forward to providing another great experience for Pokémon fans old and new over the coming month.”

The pop-up follows a successful month at Harrods last May when Pokémon took over the pop-up space in the newly launched fourth-floor toy department with a range of products and activity to promote the launch of the live action movie  Pokémon Detective Pikachu.

Get involved in the April issue of Toy World

Here is everything you need to know about our April issue, including this months new special feature. 

The April issue of Toy World will include category features on pre-school, games and puzzles, pocket money toys and collectibles, as well as a special dedicated Minions feature.

This issue will also include the second edition of our newest feature, Sustainability Spotlight, plus regular features like Talking Shop, Viewpoint and Allegedly.

The deadline for editorial will be the 2nd March, and the deadline for adverts will be the 13th March.

For further information regarding editorial opportunities contact Lisa Currie, assistant editor, lisa@toyworldmag.co.uk.

To find out more about advertising opportunities, contact Mark Austin, mark@toyworldmag.co.uk.