Rosie Marshall has taken on the role of head of plaY-room at AIS, the company’s toy and children’s gift division.
Previously the senior toy buyer at Boswells Department store, which had been a long-term plaY-room member before it closed earlier this year, Rosie brings more than 17 years of experience within the toy industry to her new role.Toy World finds out more about her appointment, and what she aims to bring to the group.
Rosie has taken over from Miles Penhallow, following his early retirement after 12 years at AIS. Her appointment comes during an usual time for everyone, and we asked her if she saw this as an opportunity or challenge.
Rosie told Toy World that she thinks this is an exciting time, which presents an opportunity to work alongside all parties and make it through to the other side together. She is optimistic for the future as, although things are changing, a lot of the change is for the better. She has welcomed having plenty to be getting on with things and being pushed outside her comfort zone, developing new and improved ways of doing things.
AIS members have shared some positive trading results since stores have reopened, as customers are making bigger purchases and the average basket spend is therefore up. Toytown SMF is doing well with new store openings performing strongly, and garden centres are also seeing success, with consumers buying toys while shopping for gardening goods. Rosie told us that stores with parking nearby are also doing well, although some department store members in city centre locations are missing the usual office-worker, student and tourist footfall. However, many stores are moving to a more online presence in an effort to counteract the impact of lower physical traffic.
AIS suppliers are proving keen to see members face to face, if possible, or set up virtual meetings if not. “While everyone has had challenges to overcome, suppliers need to sell their goods, and retailers need new toys to stock, and while there are restrictions, it is clear business in the toy trade is continuing apace,” explained Rosie. plaY-room has also put on a successful virtual import show, offering members a wide range of FOB products to choose from.
Rosie went on to share how she thinks Christmas will pan out for the toy industry this year, having noticed encouraging signs that a lot of people have already started their Christmas shopping: “I sense that Christmas shopping has also been something of a pick-me-up for many following a rough period earlier in the year. Focusing on Christmas gives people something to look forward to – buying toys for the kids is always so much fun. I think the rest of Q4 is going to be really good.”
Rosie concluded: “We’re optimistic we’ll be able to put on a show, but obviously this depends on what happens over the coming months. I think people are very keen to return to physical events in 2021. Digital shows can’t replicate the vibe and the atmosphere you pick up from physical events. As soon as the nation is given the all-clear to start gathering at shows, I think our members will be doing just that.”
To find out more about Rosie and the team’s plans for plaY-room, both short and long term, how members are reacting/adapting to the rise in online retail and to hear about plans for the 2021 Indie Toy and Gift Show, the full article, which appeared in the November issue of Toy World, can be accessed here.