Level playing fields, consultations and anticipation…it’s the Friday Blog!

Published on: 16th May 2014

I’ve been contacted by several independent toy retailers this week, disappointed (and I’m putting that as gently as I possibly can…) that one major retailer has managed to get its hands on Transformers 4 movie product a week ahead of this Saturday’s official on-shelf release date. The fact that Age of Extinction product has apparently been on Smyths shelves since Monday has not exactly gone down a storm in certain quarters, with the phrase “level playing field” cropping up repeatedly in the exchanges.

Of course, I appreciate that retail exclusives and embargoed on-shelf dates are a complex (not to mention controversial) subject, but the timing – coming just days before the Toymaster show – does give this particular example a little extra frisson. I would imagine it is likely to crop up in the odd conversation or two next week.

Here at Toy World we’re all looking forward to the show, which has established itself as a pivotal point in the toy calendar: I’ve found that a number of discussions I’ve been keen to progress this week have been met with the response: “Let’s talk about it at Toymaster.” A positive Toymaster show undoubtedly has the effect of galvanising toy suppliers and retailers, giving much-needed momentum to the coming months. So let’s all hope that next week’s event lives up to expectations. The Toy World team looks forward to seeing you there – if you’d like to arrange a meeting with any one of us, feel free to drop us an email or just accost us as we roam the halls and marquees.

Speaking of meetings, I’ve also opened my Las Vegas Licensing Expo and Distoy diaries – and by diary, I mean the old-fashioned paper variety, not one of these digital versions that perpetually flummox me, especially when I have to change appointment times because someone more important has nabbed my original slot (let’s be honest, it’s a whole lot easier to cross out a slot in a printed diary than sending electronic cancellations and re-bookings). So anyway, before I got side-tracked, I really just wanted to say that if anyone would like to catch up in Vegas or at Distoy, by all means let me know.

Elsewhere this week Asda has announced a major restructure at store level, with over 4,000 managerial roles having been put into consultation. The announcement suggests that the move will put more staff on the shop floor store and may even result in a net increase on the number of jobs on offer, with new chief operations officer Mark Ibbotson quoted as saying: “The jobs we were asking our colleagues to do five years ago…are not the jobs they are actually doing today, and not the jobs we need to empower them to do over the next five years.” Which, in fairness, is probably true of just about any business you care to name. But unlike Asda, we’ve not all set ourselves the task of saving £1b over the next five years, which probably has at least some bearing on the latest developments.

Have a splendid weekend and let’s hope the predictions for a mini-heat wave prove to be accurate (although I would imagine all those companies based in the marquee next week are hoping for exactly the opposite).

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