And so life settles back to some semblance of normality: no toy fairs, no travel – just a week at my desk putting the finishing touches to our March issue (check) and making a dent in the follow up which has gradually built up over Toy Fair season (erm, well I’ve made a start at least). Much like everyone else then, it’s back to the day job.
The BTHA has announced that it is getting closer to reaching agreement with Olympia over a proposed change of date for Toy Fair next year. Contracts have yet to be signed, so the information still comes with the ‘subject to final confirmation’ caveat. But is looking increasingly likely that the Toy Fair will move from its current Tuesday – Thursday time frame and open two days earlier on Sunday 24th January. This would mean the show would finish on Tuesday 26th, a day before the Nuremberg Toy Fair opens. The BTHA is in the process of concluding negotiations with the venue, so I think it’s best to save any comment on what potential knock-on effect the changes might have until everything is signed and sealed. We’ll let you know as soon as the details have been finalised, but I know how hard the BTHA has been working behind the scenes to resolve the situation, so I’m sure it won’t be too much longer.
Both Lego and Jakks Pacific have released frankly stellar sets of results this week. Lego’s sales and net profit grew by a whopping 15%, a performance which it modestly described as “highly satisfactory.” The UK was one of five territories where the company’s performance was identified as particularly strong, along with the US, France, Russia and China. Lego’s operating margin of 33.9% was also highlighted in some media reports, with observers noting that this is an extraordinarily high profit margin for the sector. Meanwhile sales at Jakks increased by an incredible 84% during Q4, largely due to sales of Snow Glow Elsa. Full year sales increased from $633m to $810m and the company returned to profit. Both Lego and Jakks enter 2015 on a high, having significantly out-performed the market last year, and based on the ranges I saw at the shows, both appear to have another strong year ahead of them.
I was sad to hear that Shop Direct will be axing 95 jobs as the company continues its five year strategy of moving away from catalogues and switching its business online. To put this into perspective, Shop Direct mailed out 25 million catalogues ten years ago, but only 1 million last year. Although the overall number of jobs going is a fraction of the 4700 staff currently employed by the company, the affected roles are said to be in the creative, buying, merchandising, planning, scheduling and operations teams, so let’s hope that the move doesn’t affect the toy department, as I know how well regarded the team is in the trade.
Finally, in the week that Disney has released a trailer for the new Frozen Fever animation (and my word it had to be a short trailer or it would have been in danger of showing half the movie), it occurred to me that perhaps they had also decided to undertake some guerrilla marketing during last week’s New York Toy Fair. Take a look at this photo of the fountain in Bryant Park, which was taken on my trip, and tell me that this wasn’t Elsa’s doing….