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Black Friday falls flat in the UK, heads roll at Tesco and Richard Hollis leaves the BBC…it’s the Friday Blog!

Published on: 23rd November 2012

So the Amazon Black Friday event is all over bar the shouting. Two words: Damp. Squib. After all the hype and expectation, this year’s selection of toy offers certainly didn’t appear to trigger any sort of buying frenzy. Added to the relatively low-key supermarket promotional events, toy specialists fearing a price-cutting bloodbath have arguably got off more lightly than they may have imagined (thus far at least).

Indeed, this week has seen the departure of Tesco’s non-food commercial director Terry Price, widely believed to be as a result of the failure of the EDLP (every day low price) strategy he championed so enthusiastically. Unfortunately for him, the move away from half price sales appears to have been a less than successful gambit. Rumours in the trade even suggest that the toy buying team voiced its concerns over the new direction before it was implemented, but if they did, their warnings went unheeded. One thing is certain; half-price sales will surely be back ‘in the mix’ for Tesco next year.

I was surprised to hear that Richard Hollis will shortly be leaving BBC Worldwide. Richard has spent 28 years at the BBC, which coincidentally is exactly the same amount of time I spent with my former employer before deciding the time was right to move onwards and upwards. Richard is hugely respected within the licensing community, so I’m sure plenty of opportunities will present themselves to him over the coming weeks. We wish him well with whatever comes next.

I also hear through the grapevine that big changes are afoot at the top of the Lego UK management tree – no specifics yet (at least not officially), but expect confirmation soon. And while we’re on the subject of changes at the top, congratulations to Dominic Geddes on his well-deserved promotion to the role of UK country manager at Mattel.

In last week’s blog I mentioned how much I enjoyed the latest Barclaycard ad. We’ve subsequently been contacted by a number of PRs, plugging the fact that their clients products have appeared in the ad. You have to applaud their persistence, but the ad featured so many toys that it certainly wouldn’t be appropriate to single any one out. Nevertheless, it has provided a timely boost for the whole toy industry.

I’d like to give a quick plug to the Toy Trust ‘Money Can’t Buy’ auction. In this instance, money can buy you a whole selection of unique toy-related gifts or experiences, with all the money raised going to the very worthwhile Toy Trust charity. Head on over to http://myworld.ebay.co.uk/thetoytrust to see what’s on offer.

It’s encouraging to hear that Toy Fair is now officially sold out, and the announcement serves as a timely reminder – if one were needed – that the whole Toy Fair season is just around the corner. So if you’re one of the few companies that hasn’t been in touch to book ads for our Toy Fair / Spring Fair / Nuremberg preview issues, it would be great to hear from you soon. We have some absolutely cracking editions coming out for the shows, so you really don’t want to miss out.

Whilst on the subject of Toy Fairs, my Hong Kong diary is already starting to fill up, so if you would like me to visit your showroom during the January trip, just drop me a line when you know where the gaps in your schedule are. Who knows, you may even get an honorary mention in the Hong Kong blog. There have already been some low-level grumbles from suppliers about certain customers (can you guess which channel they’re from?) arranging their main Far East trips in November and December. In some cases, this has lead to some people having to fly out specially, just to see one account. As one supplier commented, “Oh for the days when the trade all came out in the same month.” And isn’t it just a touch ironic, given the fervour with which some retailers approach the whole subject of ‘environmentally friendly’ trading practices?