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T’was the week before Toy Fair…it’s the Friday Blog!

Published on: January 18th, 2013

Thanks for all your kind comments about last week’s Hong Kong blog. Having wended my merry way back from the orient at the weekend, this week has been a rather strange one. It feels like the calm before the storm, and maybe I should be grateful for the chance to draw breath and get ready for the three shows I’ll be attending in the next three weeks. Truth is though, I’m ready and raring to go now, and I just want it all to start (I’ll admit that patience was never one of my strong points).

The gap week has at least given me time to digest our competitors’ issues, and get a sense of how each title has fared. Naturally I have a detailed breakdown if anyone is interested, but in simple terms, Toy World came out on top; we had more ads from more advertisers and crucially we were on buyers’ desks first (I certainly wouldn’t have liked to be the last one out, with such large issues being published by each title). So a huge thanks to all the companies who supported our Toy Fair issue, and I hope our compelling content has given retailers plenty of inspiration ahead of the coming shows.

The weeks’ news has been dominated by retail failures, albeit thankfully not any which directly affect the toy sector; Jessops, HMV and Blockbuster have all called in the administrators. Staggeringly, HMV is said to be the 32nd significant retail chain to go into administration in the past 12 months. But if this all seems remorselessly depressing, let us at least apply some perspective. First and foremost, mainstream toy retail casualties have been conspicuous by their absence – maybe we are a more robust trade than some might believe? On which subject, I hear that the UK toy market ended up 1 % down in 2012, after a strong late surge in December – in fairness, I think most people would have taken that if it had been offered to them in October/November.

To take this debate a step further, if you get a spare 5 minutes today, you may care to read an interesting article by BBC business editor Robert Peston. The piece basically suggests that the best way to get the UK economy growing again is to get rid of what he refers to as ‘corporate zombies that are clinging on’ and let new companies with far better prospects grow and thrive. That may sound a tad hard-nosed, but the fact is that most business sectors naturally change and evolve over time. New companies start up with fresh ideas and enthusiasm, whilst older companies which don’t adapt disappear.

Some people thought I was mad when I launched a brand new magazine in the middle of a tough trading environment. But in just 18 months we have established Toy World as the market leader; change happens (otherwise Games and Toys or Toy Trader would still be the leading toy magazine…), and forward-thinking companies embrace it. It’s survival of the fittest and all about backing the right horse.

2012 is now behind us, whilst a whole new year – with infinite possibilities – lies ahead. The latest Argos catalogue launches tomorrow, Toy Fair starts on Tuesday and off we go again. I love it. See you all at Toy Fair and look out for our extensive daily online coverage from the show.

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