This week saw the judging for the Retailer of the Year awards take place. I was once again honoured to be a member of the judging panel, along with a fine collection of industry sales people and BTHA representatives, presided over by head judge Clive ‘Len Goodman’ Jones (I say this because at one point Clive decided that if the vote was tied, he would have the casting vote, not because of his dancing prowess). I’m pleased to say that there was a healthy crop of entries this year, particularly in the independent retailer category: whittling them down to a shortlist of three was no mean feat.
As ever, there was plenty of lively debate, as well as some fascinating insight. Final decisions were rarely ‘cut and dried’, and the majority of the categories had a number of potential candidates who were all worthy of winning the award. In fact, I would probably go so far as to say that this was the hardest year to be a judge so far, with a lot of close calls and decisions that could have gone a number of different ways. There was one thing which everyone present agreed on, but as confidentiality was an essential prerequisite of proceedings, I’m afraid I can’t divulge what it was.
After much deliberation we finally arrived at a shortlist for each category, which can be found here. To find out who the winners are, you’ll need to come to the Toy of the Year awards on the first night of Toy Fair. I gather there are still a few tickets left, so I hope to see many of you there: it’s always a most enjoyable event and well worth attending.
The other big news of the week was the official unveiling of the new HTi team, details of which can be found here. There are so many new people joining that I am not sure if I’ve ever received a longer appointment-related press release, and there are certainly some big names coming on board. The new team will predominantly be based at HTi’s brand new London office, which will be opening in January. To say that the new developments represent a bold move for the company is probably something of an understatement: 2015 is clearly going to be a pivotal year for the company, and it will be fascinating to see how things develop as a result of these major changes.
I’m also pleased to hear that former GMTV/ ITV luminary Simon Poole will be joining Channel Five in the New Year. Simon’s new role will see him working with the toy community once again, and I gather he’ll be at Toy Fair to catch up with many of his old friends and colleagues.
As this is my last blog of 2014, I’d like to wish you all a wonderful Christmas and a happy New Year. I hope you all have a fantastic last week’s trading and finish the year on a high. I’ll be taking a well-earned break between Christmas and New Year, recharging my metaphorical batteries before the madness of Toy Fair season, so the blog will be back on 2nd January.