Spring has sprung….it’s the Friday Blog!

Published on: 14th March 2014

I’m not sure what the weather is like where you are, but Spring has well and truly sprung around these parts, so retailers will no doubt be moving their Outdoor Toy stock to the front of the store. One newspaper says we have 10 days of these rather pleasant conditions to look forward to, but as this is the same paper which promised we would have the coldest winter in 60 years (d’oh!), I’m not sure I’d take that as gospel.

After last week’s barrage of major news stories, this week has returned to some semblance of normality, although thankfully there is still plenty to report.

DKL has picked up the UK and Ireland distribution rights to the Breyer range of horse-related toys and collectable model horses. DKL is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, and I’m sure Breyer will be a welcome addition to its portfolio. Kai and David must be delighted to have finalised the deal.

As hinted at in last week’s blog, Mattel has officially announced the realignment of its core European structure, grouping Europe, Russia, Middle East and Africa together under the leadership of managing director David Allmark.

Mothercare has appointed former Shop Direct boss Mark Newton-Jones as its interim chief executive. Mark’s tenure will start later this month, giving Mothercare more time to search for a permanent leader to help revive its fortunes.

Saban has appointed Tim Juckes as the company’s new sales director of consumer products. Tim, who has spent the past 17 years at CPLG, will be based at Saban’s newly-opened London office.

I understand that Will Abigail is to leave his buying role at Jarrold of Norwich next Friday after four years with the department store.

Over in the States, University Games has acquired rival Briarpatch, which specialises in Pre-school specialty games. Briarpatch is University Games’ ninth acquisition since 1994, and plans are already said to be in place to make the transition as seamless as possible.

I mentioned last week that I had to hold a couple of news items over to this week’s blog, such were the riches at my disposal seven days ago. Unfortunately, neither are particularly feel-good stories. The first concerns Toys R Us, which has announced that it will be laying off nearly 200 people at its New Jersey HQ. No news yet as to whether the UK office will be affected by the cost-cutting measure, but hopefully it will escape unscathed on this occasion. Disney Interactive has also announced around 700 redundancies worldwide, as the division attempts to stem significant losses.

On the subject of significant losses, Morrisons’ results saw the grocer post a hefty £176m loss for the year to the end of February, in stark contrast to last year’s healthy profits. A sale of the Kiddicare chain – whose performance was quoted as “disappointing” – has been mooted as one of the potential consequences of the proposed restructure of the company.

Finally, I was interested to see a report (TeleScope 2014) claiming that 89% of children still watch TV as it is broadcast live, which I suspect may come as a surprise to some observers, especially those who believe that computers and tablets have taken over children’s lives. The survey suggests that children spend just shy of two and a half hours a day watching television, which I’m sure is a statistic that the TV ad sales companies will be enthusiastically quoting over the coming months.

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