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Christmas is coming, and so are the Spanish…. It’s the Friday blog!

Published on: 29th June 2012

Christmas must be coming, as retailers’ top 10 lists have already started appearing. Fairly soon they will be like London buses, and you won’t be able to move for predictions as to which toys are going to be most in demand over the coming months.

Hamleys has struck first this year, with the traditional top 10 list supported by a further ‘Magnificent 7’ selection – which clearly sounds better than a top 17 list. In fairness, it’s a smart way of getting even more lines highlighted; I look forward to other innovative bet-hedging strategies over the coming weeks.

The biggest news of the week came from Famosa, who have announced that they will be opening a new UK subsidiary, which will be up and running in Spring / Summer 2013. I visited the Spanish operation last December, and I have to say how impressed I was with the new owners and the team they’ve put in place. I’d visited the factory several years before, and the changes that had been introduced – both operationally and also to the product ranges – had made a big difference. The company is heading towards a turnover of around 200 million Euros, and international sales outstripped domestic sales for the first time last year. With all the progress that has been made over the past two years since their acquisition by Sun Capital, an American-based investment company, it seems the ideal time for them to re-establish a UK operation, and I’m sure Simon McCrickard – who will be supported in a consultancy role by Paul Fogarty – can’t wait to get cracking.

Elsewhere Disney’s new Brave movie has got off to a promising start in the US, making it the 13th consecutive Pixar film to top the box office in its opening week; Warner Bros has appointed Giochi Preziosi as master toy partner for Tom and Jerry; Gary Grant has got very upset with the owners of the Westfield Stratford owners after they shut the car park for 3 months due to the Olympics, decimating footfall in the process (I would love to have heard that particular landlord / tenant conversation…) and finally Lego has managed to upset many independent toy retailers after it was announced that it would be giving Smyths stores exclusivity on the new Star Wars range for the next month.

Just another quiet summer week for the toy trade then….