Exclusive: Toy World talks family matters with Wicked Uncle

Published on: 3rd June 2020

Rachael Simpson-Jones spoke to Mike and Liam O’Shea at the online present specialist to find out how the company has adjusted to life under lockdown.

Mike and Liam O’Shea, Wicked Uncle co-founders.

Covid-19 has changed many things, from the way we shop to how we celebrate special occasions. One thing that remains the same, though, is the demand for toys, games and gifts. One retailer meeting the need is Wicked Uncle, the online present specialist.

“We’re trading at around two to two-and-a-half times the volume we’d ordinarily expect at this time of year,” says co-founder Mike O’Shea, talking to me from his home. “Easter isn’t usually a busy time for us; usually, grandparents buy an Easter egg and pop around to visit their family in person. But this Easter, because grandparents couldn’t go and visit their grandchildren, we saw a lot choosing to send them a little gift in the post, just to remind them that they are loved and in their thoughts. Far from dying down, this sales surge has continued. With toy stores and department stores shut, there has been a reduction in supply, but we can still get the items we have in stock to the recipient very quickly.”

In the warehouse, the company was quick to reorganise the space to protect its staff and ensure strict social distancing was observed. As Wicked Uncle deals primarily in toys, and is therefore at its busiest and most crowded during November and December, the timing of the pandemic has meant that staff levels are lower and space more readily available, making it easier to put safety measures in place. One of the challenges, however, has been balancing the number of staff needed to cope with the level of sales with keeping the body count low enough that everyone has the optimum amount of workspace. Two employees made the decision to step back, due to underlying health conditions, which the company has fully supported, and to plug the gap Wicked Uncle has brought back some dependable, hard-working staff that usually cover the Christmas period, that the rest of the team could rely on to stick to social distancing.

To read the rest of this article, which was published in the June issue of Toy World, click here.


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