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Keeping secrets, prompt arrivals and the end of an era….it’s the Friday Blog!

Published on: 1st June 2012

This week has seen a select band of toy people congregate in London for The International Toy Show for Distributors, or Distoy for short. The first rule of Distoy is that you don’t talk about Distoy – although naturally I’m about to break that rule! Arguably the best-kept secret in the trade, the somewhat clandestine nature of the event certainly hasn’t prevented its reputation from growing in recent years. Indeed, the fact that organiser Intertoy has always maintained a degree of exclusivity only adds to Distoy’s allure (and needless to say I felt suitably privileged to be allowed to attend).

In essence, Distoy has replaced the old October Hong Kong trip, when companies used to showcase new lines for the following year to potential distributors across the globe. With the buying calendar having shifted forward, this now needs to be done far earlier, and for the past six years Distoy has successfully brought together key suppliers and distributors from around the world to facilitate the process. The interesting factor is that the buying community is absolutely not part of the equation (despite several major buyers allegedly trying their best to ‘crash the party’).

So over three days, deals were being finalised behind closed doors in several London hotels which will have significant impact on the global toy industry over the coming year, which is all rather exciting. But there I must stop, for I am sworn to secrecy about anything I may have seen or heard during my visit. Toy World will reveal all when the time is right…

On which subject, I hope you’ve all enjoyed our latest issue, which came out ahead of schedule this week. With a nice long weekend ahead, everyone has plenty of time to read it at their leisure. That said, my preview of the Las Vegas Licensing Show has already been commented on by several prominent licensees, who seemed to appreciate the ‘refreshingly honest’ (not to mention slightly tongue-in-cheek) approach it adopted. If you’re heading to Vegas, I hope it gives you a few pointers and ideas of what to look out for before you go (which I always thought was the point of a preview issue!).

Perhaps the saddest news of the week for me was the announcement that Makro is on the verge of being sold to cash ‘n’ carry giant Booker (the deal is still subject to shareholder approval, although I find it hard to believe that it won’t go ahead). As those who know me will be aware, my ‘close personal friendship’ with Makro stretches back a little over two decades, as my wife was a toy buyer there when we first met. Those were halcyon days for Makro; the toy buying team included such famous faces as Dave Cave, Susan Jones, Colin Fox, and of course Anita, and that small team was responsible for a pretty hefty turnover in its heyday. In recent years, the growth of large format supermarkets has made it increasingly hard for Makro to compete, and whilst the news of its imminent sale didn’t come as a huge surprise, it is still a great shame, especially if the new owners decide to close the Eccles head office. Ironically, earlier this week, Anita received an invitation to a Makro reunion which is being held in Manchester later this summer…maybe they knew exactly what was about to happen? The phrase ‘the end of an era’ is one of the most over-used clichés that journalists fall back on, but in this instance I can’t think of a more fitting epithet.

Have a splendid Jubilee weekend – I’m off to hoist the union jack bunting and open the Pimms.