Breaking News: 12,000 jobs at risk as Debenhams stores set to close

Debenhams fell into administration for the second time back in April.

Debenhams stores are now set to close as final efforts to rescue the department store chain fall through. Debenhams fell into administration for the second time back in April. Hopes had rested on a rescue bid from JD Sports, who then pulled out of the deal. With all 124 shops likely to close, all 12,000 employees are likely to lose their jobs.

The 12,000 jobs are set to go over the coming months, unless the administrators do a deal for all or parts of the business as the process unfolds. Staff were reportedly given the news on Tuesday morning. This news comes just hours after Topshop owner Arcadia collapsed into administration, putting 13,000 jobs at risk. Tough trading during the coronavirus pandemic, which saw non-essential retail shutter for months, proved to be the final blow for both retail giants.

The collapse of rescue talks is reported to be partly linked to the administration of  Arcadia Group, which is the biggest operator of concessions in Debenhams stores.

Hilco, the restructuring firm which specialises in winding up retailers, will start going into stores on Wednesday to begin clearing stock.

Geoff Rowley of FRP Advisory, joint administrator to Debenhams and partner at FRP, commented: “All reasonable steps were taken to complete a transaction that would secure the future of Debenhams. However, the economic landscape is extremely challenging and, coupled with the uncertainty facing the UK retail industry, a viable deal could not be reached.”

The administrators said the outlook for a restructured operation was “highly uncertain” and they had therefore “regretfully concluded” that they should start winding down Debenhams UK, while continuing to seek offers for all or parts of the business.

The retailer had already cut about 6,500 jobs since May as it struggled to stay afloat.

Former Debenhams chairman, Sir Ian Cheshire, has said he feels “desperately sorry” for its employees. He added: “You’ve got to be so much faster and so much more online,” further noting that the chain would have been better off with about 70 stores.

The news will come as a blow to The Entertainer, which had recently brokered a deal to provide toy concessions in Debenhams stores.

Haba set for growth in UK market

To build its presence in the UK toy market, Haba has appointed Amaroni as the British sales distributor for its toys and games. 

Haba

The German-based toy manufacturer plans to build on its presence in the UK toy market by officially appointing Amaroni as the British sales distributor for Haba toys and games from the end of 2020 onwards. Over the last year, Amaroni has been the UK sales agent for Haba and will now take the next steps towards further business growth for Haba through enhanced nationwide representation.

Established in 1938, Haba has come a long way from its roots as a wooden block toy manufacturer and currently has a presence in over 50 countries globally. Whilst wooden toys remain at the heart of the company’s extensive range, the organisation has diversified its offering significantly and nowadays its catalogue showcases over 2,000 educational toys and games. Ongoing innovation and improvement delivers over 400 new products each year and all bear the hallmark of quality, safety and sustainability of materials that Haba has a reputation for.

Haba and Amaroni are both fully aligned in their priorities to offer quality toy products that bring joy, inspiration and creativity to learning, and it is of great importance to both organisations that this is achieved in a socially and environmentally responsible way.

For further information, please contact Amaroni on 01205 260 384 or visit www.amaroni.com.

OnBuy wins eCommerce Company of the Year award

The awards were created to celebrate the best tech businesses from around the UK and signals another landmark in the rise of OnBuy.

OnBuy

OnBuy.com, the world’s fastest-growing marketplace, has been named eCommerce Company of the Year in the 2020 UK Business Tech Awards.

The awards were created to celebrate the best tech businesses from around the UK, with awards being presented to the most innovative and exceptional companies. The accolade is yet another landmark in the rise of OnBuy. Having launched just four years ago, the marketplace has grown a record 24,000% and is poised to roll out a global expansion into 42 territory-specific sites by the end of 2020 and over 140 countries in total by 2023.

Cas Paton, founder and CEO of OnBuy, commented: “I’m thrilled to see OnBuy recognised as eCommerce Company of the Year for 2020. Our incredible growth since launching in 2016 has been powered by our transparent, fair, and ethical way of doing business. We don’t sell in competition to the independent sellers who trade with us, meaning that our success is their success. It’s brilliant to see that our belief in championing the needs of online sellers and operating fairly and transparently has been endorsed by this award win – and of course by the millions of customers who choose to shop with us and support our sellers.”

The award win comes as OnBuy launched the biggest discount day seen in retail this year, with over £50m in prices dropped across every single product on the site for Black Friday. Underpinning its commitment to being a fairer, more transparent and ethical marketplace, OnBuy covered the discounts to allow its retailers to have the best possible sales day at no extra cost and simultaneously offer buyers even better deals.

OnBuy has tripled its workforce to over 50 full-time staff members this year alone and has just announced plans to expand its offices into Manchester in the new year, creating at least another 100 jobs over the next two years to support its global expansion. Despite the pandemic, OnBuy has witnessed exceptional growth throughout 2020, with sales soaring from a run rate of £20m to over £160m in just one year.

Cas added: “This award win proves that the eCommerce industry is ready to recognise a better and fairer way of selling through online marketplaces. I’m delighted that OnBuy is at the forefront of a more ethical way of trading, and I’m determined that our continued growth will always benefit our loyal sellers and customers in equal measures.”

For more information, visit www.onbuy.com.

The latest Toy World recruitment roundup

Toy World brings you a round-up of our recruitment section for anyone currently seeking a new opportunity.

Based in Guildford, Surrey, Vivid’s portfolio of brands ranges from Animagic and Vet Squad, games for all ages, Crayola, Harry Potter, Ryans World and Outdoor Toys. The company is currently looking for a product integrity (QA) technologist from the Toys & Games industry to join its team. Reporting to the Product Integrity Manager in the UK, the successful applicant will be responsible for ensuring that products manufactured, distributed, imported, and/or sold by Goliath-France, as well as its suppliers, meet Goliath’s Product Integrity requirements.

To find out more about the role, click here.

Vivid is also looking for a senior brand manager. Reporting to the head of marketing for Toys & Games, the successful applicant will be responsible for driving key brands and products within the UK portfolio, working with the International Marketing team from conception through to planning the UK launch, devising and executing marketing campaigns, as well as having financial accountability.

To apply, click here.

Founded three years ago, Fanbytes has built a successful influencer agency working with brands like Ubisoft, Mattel, King, and Miniclip to run campaigns that win the heart of Gen Z. Over the last 18 months, the company has developed two new divisions of the business: Bytesized Talent, the UK’s largest TikTok talent agency, and Bytehouse, the UK’s first-ever TikTok house, which has gained national press coverage in the Evening Standard and The Times, as well as on BBC and Sky News. The company is now looking for a first-class experienced brand partnerships manager to come in and eventually lead the toys and gaming division.

Find out how to apply, here.

Toynamics UK & Ireland is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hape Holding AG and acts as a multi brand distributor across a number of leading brands within the toy and nursery industry, and is now seeking a key account manager. The company’s mission is threefold – to shape the future of Toynamics within the children’s market, to make its brands even better known and established and to reinvent itself with proactivity to drive sales, marketing, and the business forward. The key account manager role is vital to the expansion and development of new business and growth within existing national accounts.

Click here to find out more about the role.

Further roles are advertised on the Toy World website and daily newsflash, which job seekers are advised to check regularly.

Looking for staff?

Toy World’s Recruitment section is the place to advertise your latest vacancies. Ads tailored to your individual specifications can be placed online within 24 hours and enjoy daily exposure on our popular email newsflash, plus front-page visibility on our website for the duration of the ad placement. Print ads are also available.

To discuss your requirements, get in touch with Mark Austin, mark@toyworldmag.co.uk.

The Entertainer to give staff members three ‘Free Days’ to celebrate Christmas

The Entertainer’s 171 stores across the country will close at the end of the day on Christmas Eve and won’t re-open until Monday 28th December.

Christmas 'Free Days'

The Entertainer is planning to give its staff a three day break to spend quality time together with their families during the five day period of eased restrictions, announced by the UK government last week.

It means that The Entertainer’s 171 stores across the country will close at the end of the day on Christmas Eve and won’t re-open until Monday 28th December.

Gary Grant, founder and chief executive at The Entertainer, commented: “Restrictions placed upon people over the last nine months have been incredibly testing and we’ve dearly missed being able to see loved ones in the ways we would normally take for granted. With the easing of restrictions for Christmas, we want to give our staff more opportunity to rest together with their families and loved ones for some quality time. Our stores will close on Christmas Eve and will reopen on again until Monday 28 December, giving our employees three of the five days of the eased restriction period to spend Christmas with the people they cherish.”

Following what is expected to be a hectic period in the run up to Christmas, other retail bosses have also decided to grant staff a well-earned break. M&S is just one of the stores that has recently decided to remain closed on Boxing Day. CEO Steve Rowe said: “This is a big decision, but it is absolutely the right one given the incredible effort everyone has made in the most challenging of circumstances.”

Home Bargains has also said it will close on Boxing Day, to give staff an extra day off and thank them for their hard work over the course of the pandemic. Aldi and Waitrose staff have also been granted Boxing Day off.

Meanwhile, the shopworkers’ union Usdaw has written to retail bosses urging all companies to give staff a Boxing Day break this year. General secretary Paddy Lillis said that many retail workers feel under pressure to work on Boxing Day, even where it is supposed to be voluntary, and would be unlikely to be able to take full advantage of the easing of restrictions on households meeting for a short period over Christmas.

“For key workers, who have done so much this year, asking for shops to close on Boxing Day, so that they can have some quality time with their families, is really not too much to ask for,” he said. “2020 has been a year like no other, so let’s ensure that retail workers get a decent break at Christmas. The only way they will be guaranteed a decent break is if retailers close for Boxing Day.”

 

Flair Just Play signs licensing deal with pocket.watch for Love, Diana

Flair Just Play will be introducing a roleplay collection inspired by Kids Diana Show, launching in spring 2021.

Love, Diana Flair Just Play

Flair Just Play has announced a further licensing deal with pocket.watch, the studio behind the successful Ryan’s World franchise, among other popular properties. Launching for spring 2021 in the UK and Ireland, Flair Just Play will be introducing a roleplay collection inspired by the latest YouTube sensation, Kids Diana Show. According to Tubefilter, the channel totals 5b global views a month, making Diana the No.3 YouTuber globally.

To support the global launch of the Kids Diana Show merchandise, pocket.watch has produced 40 episodes of Love, Diana. In this series, where live-action meets animation, the episodes are designed to help children learn positive lessons about friendship, family, creativity, and the power of play.

“We are absolutely thrilled to be partnering with pocket.watch once again,” said Charlotte Rodgers, marketing manager for the Just Play brands portfolio, Flair. “Kids Diana Show is an international smash hit on YouTube, with billions of kids across the globe tuning in to view the channel each month, and this is just the beginning. We can’t wait to bring our fantastic Love, Diana roleplay collection to the toy aisle.

Stone Newman, chief revenue officer of pocket.watch added: “We are delighted to be continuing our relationship with partners like Flair Just Play to expand the reach of the Love, Diana franchise to entertain and inspire young girls around the world.”

The Flair Just Play roleplay collection features Love, Diana’s Adventure Set – a backpack just like the one Diana wears in the show which comes with a transforming wand hairbrush, an interactive phone, a map to help navigate the Land of Play, and more. Also available is the Surprise Deluxe Trunk, with many compartments for kids to discover.. The Light-Up Bubble Wand produces bubbles just like Diana’s wand does before she travels into the Land of Play. There is also an unlockable collection of Love, Diana Mini Mystery Trunks for fans to discover.

For more information, contact the Flair Just Play team by calling 0208 643 0320 or emailing sales@flairplc.co.uk.

Dad’s Choice Awards 2020 winners revealed

The Dad’s Choice Awards entries offer inspiration for parents unsure what to buy their kids this Christmas.

Dad's Choice Awards

With more entries than ever before, the annual Dad’s Choice Awards testers have spent weeks putting top toys through their paces and have announced its Twelve Top Winners for 2020. Each of these winning products grabbed the attention of the testers and was deemed worthy of the highest award. A further eleven products have been awarded the Highly Commended Award and ten received the Commended Award for 2020.

The Twelve Top Winners are as follows:

  • Lego Adventures with Mario Starter Course
  • Scalextric Micro Scalextric James Bond Set – No Time To Die
  • Little Tikes First Washer Dryer
  • Trends UK Nerf Bunkr Battle Cube
  • John Adams Tweet Beats
  • Cheatwell Games Baffled
  • Olex Consulting Pepper The Penguin Bluetooth Speaker
  • Build Your Own Kits Build Your Own Microscope
  • Micro Scooters Mini Micro 3 in 1 LED Deluxe Push Along Scooter
  • Micro Skate The Micro MJ Skate
  • Eduk8 Worldwide Aquascope
  • Carddies Christmas set

The Highly Commended Winners are:

  • Corgi Chunkies Police Tow Truck
  • Interplay UK Drone Home
  • Hornby The Flying Scotsman Analogue Train Set
  • Little Tikes Tobi Robot Smartwatch
  • Moose Toys Boom City Racers
  • Razor Crazy Cart Shift
  • Revolution Robotics Challenge Robotics Kit
  • Osmo Osmo Coding Kit
  • Tig-Tag Tig-Tag
  • Tonies Tonies and Toniebox
  • Hue Animation HUE Animation Studio

The Commended Winners are:

  • Edx Education FunPlay Rainbow Pebbles
  • Eat Sleep Doodle World Map tablecloth
  • Confident Games, Confident?
  • Gutter Games Ltd Beat That! – The Bonkers Battle of Wacky Challenges
  • Airfix Quickbuild Red Arrows Hawk
  • Lego Duplo Modular Playhouse
  • Limmys Neoprene Swim Vest
  • Reading Eggs Reading Eggs and Mathseeds
  • Robo Technologies Robo Wunderkind Explorer Prime Kit
  • Wow Wee Power Treads All Surface Vehicles Epic Course Trac

David Ross, founder of Dad’s Choice Awards, commented: “Despite Covid-19, Dads Choice Awards had more entries this year than ever before. In our 9th year, our Dad testers have selected a cracking selection of top gifts. Unlike other round ups, the Dads Choice Winners have all been put through their paces by children. The list of Winners, Highly Commended and Commended is fantastic, any of these would make superb presents at Christmas. These awards aim to make life a little easier for last minute Christmas shoppers.”

Dad’s Choice Awards are a celebration of Dads and their kids playing and spending time together. Award winning entries can be seen in detail online at www.dadschoiceawards.co.uk.

44 Cats hosts ‘Cat Friday’ on official Amazon store

The ‘Cat Friday’ initiative will be online from today until 29th November in Italy and the UK, and until early December in France.

Cat Friday

Black Friday weekend begins today, and 2020 will award 44 Cats fans with special deals on the 44 Cats Amazon official store for Cat Friday.

The original multi-territory initiative will be online from today (27th November) until 29th November in Italy and the UK, and until early December in France, where Black Friday has been delayed. Great offers await fans of the show that, with new episodes launching worldwide, is continuing to climb rating charts and win the heart of children and families.

In the UK, 44 Cats rated in the top six of all pre-school series on POP TV in Q2 of this year, with a peak of 5.5m audience in a month. The show increased its total viewership by 50% compared to the first quarter of the year.

The exclusive Cat Friday will be hosted on the official Amazon store of the brand and 44 Cats store only for three days, in a dedicated section, with a wide choice of products at very reasonable prices that  involve children in many different games and will encourage them to have fun at home.

The online store is accessible from the 44 Cats official page. Readers can also access the store on the 44 Cats official Amazon stores for the UK, Italy and France.

Hornby unveils virtual Christmas Advent calendar

Hornby’s 25 day virtual Advent calendar is packed with prizes and exclusive updates.

Advent calendar

Hornby has announced this year’s 25 day virtual Christmas Advent calendar, counting down the days of December with prizes and fun to be had.

The range of competitions and prizes included in this year’s countdown calendar have been designed to suit everyone, including model railway enthusiasts.

Featuring exclusive announcements and videos, giveaways and competitions, the virtual Advent calendar includes the final of Hornby’s Model Shot of the Year and the chance to win one of Hornby’s most wanted products, a Centenary Tinplate locomotive, produced as part of the company’s anniversary celebrations.

The calendar can be found via the Hornby Christmas Grotto, which features a  host of festive fun for all the family to enjoy, including downloadable colouring sheets and activities, photo booth props, Christmas themed videos, the chance to buy two special Christmas Hampers and lots more.

The festive themed activity will also be featured across all of Hornby’s social platforms from 1st December, when the virtual Advent calendar launches. Readers can visit the Hornby Christmas Grotto for more family activities.

Like and follow the Hornby social channels to be kept updated on all the latest news and more.

Acquisition of Toys R Us Australia by Funtastic is completed

New Toys R Us owners plan to accelerate growth with further expansion, including new experiential physical store formats.

Toys 'R' Us

The Australian eCommerce retailers, Toys R Us, Babies R Us, Hobby Warehouse and Mittoni, have been acquired by the Funtastic Group, including the acquisition of new shares in the company under the underwritten placement and conversion of existing debt to equity.

Hobby Warehouse owner, Louis Mittoni, has been appointed as the managing director and CEO of the company, with Kevin Moore appointed as chairman. Meanwhile, Bernie Brookes has stepped down from his role as chairman and director, while Nicki Anderson and John Tripodi retain their roles as independent non-executive directors.

“This is an exciting day for both businesses, particularly as we head into the busiest period of retail trading with Black Friday, Cyber Monday and of course, Christmas shopping,” commented Louis. “Toys R Us is now one of the fastest-growing online retailers in ANZ and we will now look to accelerate that growth in 2021 with further expansion, plus the commencement of Babies R Us. Our plans include building new physical and digital logistics in addition to innovative, ‘experiential’ physical store formats.”

All new shares issued under the Placement and Debt Conversion, as well as the new shares approved by the AGM, began on the ASX on 26th November.

Louis added: “Our wholesale businesses, Mittoni Technology and Funtastic, will continue to focus on and support all retailers with a wide range of some of the best-known branded technology, toys and baby products. We are looking forward to building a company with strong foundations and big plans for growth.”

The formerly American-owned kid’s retailer, Toys R Us, filed for Chapter 11 in 2018, with the Australian leg of the business falling in its wake. Then, in June 2019, Hobby Warehouse acquired the company with a 30-year licensing agreement.