Unfortunate news awaited me on my iphone yesterday morning. Someone had emailed me very late on Wednesday evening to tell me that Treasure Trove was in liquidation, and a swift early morning phone call to the company confirmed that my source was, regrettably, correct.
I have known both Robin and Liz for more years than I care to remember, and they’ve always been a joy to work with. In fairness, it was no secret that the company had faced some significant challenges in the recent year, including a restructuring of its finances. The loss of the Breyer agency to Hornby clearly wouldn’t have helped in the short term either. Nevertheless, despite the sad news, an old song lyric comes to mind: “every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end” (It’s from ‘Closing time’ by Semisonic, if you’re interested). I have been told that a full statement will be issued on Monday, which I am led to believe will clarify what is going to happen going forward, so I hope to be able to report more positive news then.
In many respects it’s been a week of ‘less than positive’ news stories: Argos’ results for January and February – whilst unsurprising – didn’t exactly make comfortable reading, whilst staff at Mothercare’s head office in Watford have been warned of potential redundancies (our ‘scoop’ came courtesy of the ‘Observer Owl’, the twitter feed of the Watford Observer, in case you’d like to add him to your follow list!). And yesterday’s national business headlines were dominated by the resignation of Tesco’s chief executive Richard Brasher, with some observers suggesting that – whisper it gently – Tesco might have ‘topped out’ as far as its UK turnover is concerned.
But should these disparate stories give rise to specific concern for the toy trade? I would argue not. Comments about Tesco’s lackluster pre-Christmas performance seem to focus more on its food offering, whilst the Mothercare news – whilst deeply regrettable – would probably not have come as a massive shock to many people in the trade. As for Argos, they’re clearly in a period of transition, and will no doubt come out fighting; indeed, their share price jumped up this week after analyst Morgan gave the ‘beleaguered retailer’ (as every tabloid business reporter is contractually obliged to refer to them) a vote of confidence.
Despite these snippets, I remain unashamedly in the ‘glass half -full’ camp; this cheery outlook may well be shaped significantly by the fact that the year ahead is looking extremely positive for Toy World. Unlike perhaps giant investment bank Goldman Sachs, which received a tongue-lashing this week from a departing executive for referring to clients as ‘muppets’ when they didn’t buy into the bank’s toxic offers.
I know it’s fashionable to bash the bankers, but the sheer greed at work in Goldman Sachs staggers me. Personally, I’ve always believed in a partnership approach to business, forming relationships with my customers which work for both parties (I know this is hardly rocket science, but it’s an approach that has served us well so far).
So at Toy World we continue to be positive about coming months – there’s much to look forward to.