Leading toy suppliers told Toy World how they’ve been supporting their ranges since the shops reopened and what the loss of trade shows means to them.
It’s fair to say that suppliers had rather varied experiences of lockdown depending what categories they’re active in. While we’re all aware that arts & crafts, games and construction outperformed expectations, companies without these products missed out, as Sue Barratt, UK country manager at IMC Toys explains.
“As IMC doesn’t have products in the categories that became ‘essential’ during the period, our shipped business suffered across April and May,” she told Toy World. “That said, our NPD sales were still strong. From the beginning of June, as retailers’ click & collect services picked up and they prepared for store openings, both our shipments and sales picked up significantly. So much so, in fact, we’re now flat year on year and growing week-on-week with retail sales significantly up. June is up +48% in NPD, putting IMC firmly back in the NPD top 50 for the first time in well over a year.”
Tomy, which UK & Ireland general manager Mary Wood says was planning for ‘tough months ahead’ come lockdown, found itself ultimately enjoying a strong Q1, with Toomies, Lamaze, Drumond Park and Aquadoodle all performing well. “Turnover has far exceeded what we achieved in 2019. I think the work we have done over the last couple of years to develop the right products at the right price points, as well as working on our online presence, has paid dividends.”
The loss of Toymaster and Autumn Fair have been a blow for suppliers this year. Says Tactic’s UK sales manager, Phil O’nion: “We were booked to show at Autumn Fair this year. It is obviously disappointing not to be seeing customers in person at the NEC next month, but we knew this was the likely scenario. Nevertheless, the team is on-hand to assist them with links to the catalogue and help with orders and delivery requirements, especially for the new games coming in September.”
Anil Boodhoo, sales & marketing director at Asmodee adds: “With shows being cancelled, our priority is communication with all of our retail partners. We’re working on a number of initiatives to ensure that they’re fully informed of our plans and new launches, as well as innovative ways in which we can continue to support them.”
Looking ahead to Q3/4, Andrew Laughton, SVP UK at MGA Entertainment, is clearly optimistic. He told Toy World: “Zapf Creation has experienced a fantastic first half with consumers supporting traditional play patterns – Baby Born and Baby Annabell certainly fit that bill. With great new additions to both brands, we’re expecting big things for autumn. Here’s to a great season.”
Read the full Touching Base feature, with further comment from senior industry figures at MGA Entertainment, Little Tikes, Bertoy, 8th Wonder and Canal Toys in the August issue of Toy World.