Exclusive: Everybody out! The Outdoor category

Published on: 7th March 2022

Rachael Simpson-Jones talks to a number of suppliers specialising in different areas of Outdoor Toys to find out how the category is shaping up this year.

In December, data from The NPD Group showed that the Outdoor Toys category was up +8% value share vs. 2019, and suppliers are certainly seeing plenty of demand. The trials of lockdown have had a lasting effect on the family psyche, with time spent outdoors, be it in a garden, playground, park or forest, now an undisputed factor in a healthy childhood. The pandemic showed us that too much time spent inside is no good for anyone, and with restrictions all but entirely lifted across much of the UK, parents and kids will this year be keener than ever to spend quality time out of the house.

Geemac, which offers the leading Sportspower brand of trampolines, climbing frames and more, says the growth of the category shows no signs of slowing and that, moving forward, the year ahead looks very positive indeed. Key account manager Adam Pearson expanded: “The message we continually hear is that parents want and need kids outside and active. Health is everything these days so as long as we drive innovation and excitement into our development, we can be confident the category can continue to thrive.”

SJR Associates has also seen a big increase in the demand for outdoor toys over the past two years, according to Steve Richardson, managing director at the company, which distributes the Dolu range within the UK & Ireland. Dolu delivers direct from its Turkish factory, making it very competitive on price. “We offer a bigger range than most, along with what we hope are the best margins possible,” explains Steve.

In the UK, Geemac, which was founded on an FOB business model, opened its Northampton warehouse just over a year ago and now supplies domestically as well. With a diversified range and home delivery available too, Adam says the move has ‘drastically strengthened’ the company’s customer base.

The Bikes category is set to benefit this year from the arrival of Huffy. A renowned household brand in the US, Huffy bikes arrived in the UK in late 2021 thanks to a deal with United Wheels, and this year the range is to be expanded with the Disney, Marvel and Lucas Film licence for bikes and kid-powered ride-ons. “Our parent company in the US has a longstanding relationship with Disney, so this agreement is a great opportunity for us to continue this for the UK and wider EU markets,” explains Jon Tilley, general manager/directoe EMEA.

Iconic household brand Little Tikes is ramping up the fun itself this year with the introduction of new products such as its Foamo 3-in- 1 Water Table alongside traditional favourites such as the Turtle Sandbox, First Slide and Cape Cottage.

To read our full in-depth category feature, which appeared in the March edition of Toy World, click here.


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