Exclusive: Just Play – going solo

Published on: 12th July 2021

Independent US toy company Just Play has announced the creation of its first European subsidiary, which will open officially on 1st January 2022.

Toy World met with David Allmark, executive advisor, and Anna Chapman, VP marketing EMEA at Just Play’s stunning new office in Henley on Thames, to find out why the timing is right for this step and how the European business strategy is set to extend the US success.

The location of the new office, in something of a hotspot for UK toy companies, reflects Just Play’s aspirations within the European marketplace. The company has its sights firmly set on making the UK Top 10 rankings within just two years, edging towards the top of that list towards the end of the 24 months.

“Just Play is mainly based in Florida and Pennsylvania, with a further licensing hub and showroom in LA,” explains David. “There’s also a substantial manufacturing and showroom resource in Hong Kong, with around 150 team members, and in the latter half of 2020 we opened the Australian subsidiary, with the UK office now hot on its heels.”

While existing partnerships across Europe will continue, such as that with Giochi Preziosi, the new office will form the hub of Just Play’s European business and will serve the retail community in the UK & Ireland via direct partnerships. The building of the UK Just Play team is already underway, and you can learn more about this in the article.

Anna and David went on to tell us about the seting up of the company’s logistics, and how this year’s spring/summer previews have been put to good use, with accounts with retail partners already being established. Anna explains: “We can’t turn up in January, clap our hands together and ask: ‘Right, what needs doing?’. We have to lay the foundations now.”

Flair has distributed the brand in the UK & Ireland for five years, and Just Play acknowledges that the partnership has played a major role in getting Just Play to where it is in the UK. Toy World was keen to know why Just Play felt the time was right to go solo. “Ideally, we would have done this a few years ago,” David told us. “It comes down to scale. Just Play now boasts a portfolio sufficiently broad enough to create a sustainable, successful UK business.”

It’s an incredibly strong range, bolstered by a solid business development plan, and the excitement from David and Anna is understandably palpable. “You always want to be in a job you love, and for David and I, it’s this one,” enthuses Anna. “Early on in your career, roles can be more about where they can take you. Later, the focus is on what you’re doing every day. This opportunity feels quite different to both of us, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds.”

To hear more about Just Play’s extensive range, and what retailers have to look forward to in working with the new European operation, read the full article, which appeared in the July edition of Toy World, by clicking here.



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