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Back in the saddle… it’s the Friday Blog!

Published on: 22nd July 2016

Revitalised from my holiday, I am now back in the UK – I hope you appreciate me bringing the weather back with me (even if it was only for a couple of days). I’ve been so busy with deadlines for the next issue that I haven’t had time to pick up a new Argos catalogue as yet, so any observations I may have on the laminated book of dreams will have to wait until next week.

In the meantime, the Brexit scenario continues to unfold. With the pound showing few signs of recovering in the short term, and with some experts predicting even bigger falls to come (parity with the dollar anyone? Surely the industry’s nightmare scenario…), reports of price increases continue to circulate. Far East suppliers seem to be in no mood – or position – to mitigate the currency fluctuations, and I’m already hearing that some products which were in development for next year are being dropped because the development costs have spiralled too high. Certainly anything which is ‘near the edge’ in terms of margin looks to be in a fairly precarious position.

Meanwhile, there are suggestions that some retailers have bought fairly conservatively for Christmas, hoping to place top up orders from domestic stock if sales do outstrip expectations. I suspect that if this is indeed the case, Brexit may have thrown a bit of a spanner in the works, especially if retailers were expecting to secure additional stock at the same price. And what will all this mean for the aggressive festive sales and promotions which traditionally kick in over the coming weeks? There are rumours that one of the big retailers may be about to commence a ‘3 for 2’ across its entire range, which – if true – will certainly result in more of a hit to their margin than ever.

It all brings to mind that popular Chinese saying ‘May you live in interesting times’ (along with that other popular Chinese saying “That’ll be 15% more….no, there is no discount.”).

In other news, Nat Southworth will be leaving Hornby next Tuesday as part of a wider company restructure, which we’ll be bringing you details of shortly. With Nat’s industry knowledge and experience, I’m sure he’ll be snapped up when he’s able to re-join the fray in due course.

I mentioned last Friday that Pokemon Go seemed to be taking off – it’s not until I got back to the UK that I realised just how much of a phenomenon we have on our hands. Toy World’s assistant editors Clarabel and Jonika are both avid players; indeed, they tell me that the Post Office depot at the end of the road is a Pokestop (which might be of interest to anyone visiting our new office). I saw a tweet from one independent toy retailer pointing out that his shop has apparently been designated a Pokegym, and asking if this is a good thing – I’m reliably informed it is a very, very good thing. Licensees are already reporting a massive upsurge in interest in their ranges from retailers, and I would imagine that the Pokemon stand will be one of the busiest at BLE in October, as the property remains relatively under-licensed (but not for long I’m sure).

Finally, if you think the UK political situation has descended into farce at times in recent weeks, there was a small reminder this week that the forthcoming American election could yet rival us in the stupidity stakes. Responding to allegations of plagiarism in Melania Trumps’ speech, a Republican chief strategist used a quote from Twilight Sparkle from My Little Pony to show how similar phrases can apparently occur purely by coincidence. Yes, he really did invoke the ‘My Little Pony defence’ – and here is the evidence. We certainly do live in ‘interesting’ times….