Obituary: Philip Harrison

Published on: 29th January 2021

Toy World is sad to report that industry stalwart Philip Harrison, who most recently ran Mondo UK, passed away on 24th January.

Philip was perhaps best known for running Mondo in the UK for almost 30 years, a company which, when Philip launched it in 1992, was one of the first European toy businesses to successfully branch out into the UK. A toy man through and through, many also have fond memories of working with Philip prior to his Mondo days, at companies including Wembley Playcraft and Rainbow Toys. Up until recently, Philip was still attending trade shows, albeit in a wheelchair, which was testament to his love of the toy industry.

Lorenzo Richetta, international sales manager, Mondo Luxembourg SA, told Toy World: “Everyone at Mondo is very sad to hear of Philip passing away. Philip launched Mondo in the UK, and since then we can frankly say he was Mondo in the UK. I had the pleasure of working with him for over a decade prior to his retirement and it was a privilege to learn from him. Philip was truly passionate about his work, able to inspire anyone working with him with his ideas and strategies, and always able to convince any buyer to have a meeting. We have missed him since he retired – and even more so now.”

Debby Turner worked as Mondo UK office manager for over 20 years and got to know Philip well. “After knowing and working with Philip for almost two decades, I came to realise just how deep his passion for the toy industry was,” she said. “He was an innovator, always thinking up new ideas for toys that would motivate, exercise and, most importantly, entertain children. What I remember most though was that he always took the time to listen; both to colleagues and customers. He would go above and beyond to seek answers to questions and solutions to problems. He was a great asset to the toy industry, a great colleague and also a friend. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him.”

Many of Philip’s friends and former colleagues have shared their memories, including Joe Kissane of Character Options, who has remembers fondly working with him when Rainbow Toys moved to Northampton. “I first met Philip when Rainbow and Wembley worked together in the early nineties. He was a charming, smart, friendly – and a workaholic. We had some fun times together, and he always made time for people. He was a massive Manchester United fan and was instrumental in getting our season tickets. That was over 25 years ago, and we still have them today. (If only we could go and watch live football at the moment!)”

Colin Lisle worked with Philip during the Wembley Playcraft /Clearmark Group(Rainbow Toys) days and told us: “From the first time I met Philip, I found him to be an absolute gentleman. He was always meticulous in his attire and was exactly the same in all his business dealings. He loved the toy Industry, was a real specialist in the outdoor sector and a great supporter of Harrogate Toy Fair. Philip enjoyed the social side of the business and was always a great host at events like the test matches, and at his beloved Manchester United. A great character.”

Tesco’s John Hext was keen to add his tribute: “Philip was one of the very first suppliers I met upon taking up an outdoor toys buying role a number of years ago, and someone I always looked forward to meeting and enjoyed spending time with. He was a gentleman in the truest sense of the word, even calling me ahead of a meeting once to apologise that a delay to his flight meant he would have to meet me direct from the airport, and would therefore be in casual attire. Suffice to say, our ideas of ‘casual’ were very different! It’s a pleasure to have known Philip, and my condolences are with his family and friends.”

David Ripley echoed the appreciation of Philip’s unique style. “Philip was the embodiment of the dapper salesman, always immaculately turned out. He played on his eccentricity perfectly in sales meetings, especially when hosting buying trips to Italy to visit the Mondo factory and showrooms. Characters like Philip are impossible to replace and he will be sadly missed by all that knew him.”

We’ll leave the last word to Colin Lisle: “I remember that Philip printed the United treble winning ball AHEAD of the UEFA Champions League Final match being played – just so that his customers had the product on the shelves the day after the match! Now that takes b….lls.”

The funeral (John Philip Harrison) will take place on Friday 19th February at 12.15pm GMT. The service will be available online via this link, both live and for a period of 30 days following the funeral. To access the service, use Login: 77892 and Password: cywrsyfc.

Toy World would like to add its condolences to Philip’s family, and all who knew him, at this sad time.


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