Spielwarenmesse postponed to summer 2021 (update)

Rising Covid-19 infection rates and increasing travel restrictions have lead to the decision. 

Spielwarenmesse 2021, which was due to take place from 27th-31st January 2021, has been postponed until summer amidst the ongoing coronavirus disruption.

In an email sent to exhibitors, which Toy World has seen, Spielwarenmesse said: " Our plan was to send out the stand confirmation for Spielwarenmesse in mid-October.

Today, we regret to inform you that Spielwarenmesse 2021 will not take place in January. Instead, the fair will be held in summer 2021. The increasing number of infections and further travel restrictions have led to this decision. The significantly changed framework and the concern for the health of all involved parties mean that it will be difficult to hold Spielwarenmesse at the end of January with the quality you are used to. Developments in recent weeks have led to major concerns among exhibitors and visitors about taking part in an international fair - this uncertainty was also clear in discussions with the Spielwarenmesse team.

If you have already made payments for Spielwarenmesse 2021 to us, we will of course refund them or transfer them to the next event. You do not have to take any action in this regard. We will contact you in the coming weeks.

In addition, we will inform you about the date and registration for the planned summer event 2021 and about an accompanying digital offer in due course."

In a subsequent release, Ernst Kick, CEO of Spielwarenmesse eG, stated: “We very much regret the decision to postpone the Spielwarenmesse 2021. Preparations for the 72nd event in January were already well under way. Based on the guidelines of the Bavarian State Government, the Health & Hygiene Concept, drawn up in collaboration with the local health authorities and venue operator NürnbergMesse, was well received by all participants. I’d like to thank everyone who joined us on this path, and I feel sure that the improvements we have made will benefit all future events and appearances.”

Spielwarenmesse eG is currently in talks with NürnbergMesse to find a suitable date for the Spielwarenmesse 2021. In the meantime, the website at www.spielwarenmesse.de will continue to provide exhibitors, retailers and buyers, as well as media representatives with a large offering and a plethora of information about the toy industry. The digital platform is continually being expanded as an extra service and a complement to the physical exhibition experience.

More of that sort of thing…it’s the Friday Blog!

One encouraging sign that a semblance of normality is returning to business life here in the UK is the abundance of stories about new appointments and promotions which we’ve reported on this week. Both Interplay and Gibsons have boosted their teams with multiple new recruits, while there have been some notable senior appointments across a range of organisations. More of that sort of thing, please.

Following the departure of Ian Edmunds from Toymaster, it was announced earlier this week that long-term team members Yogi Parmar and Colin Farrow have been appointed as interim joint managing directors, while Paul Reader has been promoted to marketing director. I liked Paul’s email to suppliers this week – an uplifting rallying cry thanking the suppliers for their support and encouraging them to work even closer with Toymaster going forward. I’ve said it before, but the toy industry is better off for having a thriving independent base. The indies are passionate about what they do and are laser-focused on toys; they don’t suddenly ‘pivot’ and devote their space to toilet roll and hand sanitizer. They live and breathe toys 24/7, 365 days a year. However well they have performed so far this year, specialist bricks and mortar retailers need support – not necessarily preferential treatment (although that would be nice on occasion), but at least as close to a level playing field as possible. The days of only offering the indies product when the majors have shut their warehouse doors, leaving stock suddenly available, are hopefully long gone. For example, it’s great to see Toymaster being given an exclusive by Mattel for Masters of the Universe – I am sure that more of that sort of thing would be very much appreciated.

Elsewhere, a couple of toy and licensing industry stalwarts have popped up in new roles this week: Graham Saltmarsh has been appointed to run the UK arm of Licensing International, the licensing industry association. The flood of well-wishers and positive comments on my LinkedIn post about Graham’s appointment is testament to how well-regarded Graham is within the community, and I am sure he will bring his own unique, refreshing perspective to his role. We also announced that Chris Isitt has been appointed as a licence consultant to Smiffys: a few people were taken by surprise by the move, given the often ‘lively’ competition between Smiffys and Rubies in the past. Nevertheless, Chris is steeped in the dress-up and party market, with considerable experience and extensive contacts, so I was not in the least surprised to see that another major player in this sector was keen to harness his attributes. And keep an eye out for further news from Rubies in the coming days, as the deadline for offers for the business has now passed, following the company’s filing for Chapter 11 in the US. Watch this space…

A couple of other moves to report; Andy Clempson has returned to Mattel to work in its Asia Pacific operation. Andy will continue to be based in Hong Kong, where he has lived for the past few years. Becky Sherwood has joined Lisle Licensing, while Evolution PR has appointed a new team member, Georgina Dobie, who some of you may be familiar with through her stint at one of the other toy magazines. We wish everyone all the best in their new roles. If you are looking for a new challenge or a change of scene, perhaps this ‘Italian Job’ – commercial manager for the Italian market – might be worth exploring. I know of a few recent other high-profile appointments which I hope to be able to announce soon. Taken as a whole, it’s clear that the jobs ‘merry-go-round’ has whirred back into life, which I hope augurs well for the overall health of the market.

That said, there are a few warning signs to be aware of: there are rumblings about further national lockdowns here in the UK – something I am sure the government will be keen to avoid if at all possible – while Israel has implemented a month-long lockdown of its own. Meanwhile, this week’s John Lewis results were accompanied by a rather revealing statement: “Before the crisis we believed that shops contributed around £6 of every £10 spent online. We now think that figure is, on average, around £3.” The belief that stores helped drive online sales has been a factor in retail development in recent years, including the level of store openings and retail footprint. If there is a perception amongst retailers that this is no longer the case, it may well have implications for future retail planning. I’ve also heard rumours that certain major accounts may be looking to rationalise their supplier base and SKU count even further next year. Of course, we’re at the stage where nothing is cast in stone, but the ‘buy narrow, buy deep’ philosophy has been adopted by several major accounts this year, so a continuation – or even extension – of this strategy wouldn’t necessarily come as a massive shock.

We’ve also seen several more trade shows cancelled in the past couple of weeks, including Mipcom in Cannes and Mega Show in Hong Kong, both of which were due to take place this autumn. This is leading once again to intense industry speculation about what may happen to the trade fairs in January and February. The deadline for decisions by the respective show organisers must be looming – we’ll bring you concrete information as soon as it is available. Amongst my contacts, there is a growing sense that some events may benefit from postponement – in particular, several people have suggested that the Hong Kong trip might potentially slip back a couple of months, from January to March. I think that the majority remain keen for at least some shows or sourcing trips to take place, but equally, most people are also realists and pragmatists. We all have tremendous affection for these events, we don’t want anything to diminish that. It must be so difficult for organisers to find a way to put on a show which adheres to all the appropriate government guidelines and prevailing safety regulations, yet which doesn’t compromise the very essence of what makes shows special.

To use popular modern vernacular, shows are one of my ‘happy places’ – I couldn’t disagree more with the handful of people on my LinkedIn feed who seem keen for them to be replaced by virtual events (perish the thought). Personally, I can’t wait for them to return – but if I do have to wait a little bit longer this time round, so be it. They’ll be back when the time is right.


Toymaster cancels September show

Dates for the 2021 Toymaster show have been confirmed. 

Toymaster logoSuppliers and Toymaster members have received an email, officially announcing the cancellation of the Toymaster show, which was due to take place from 2nd-4th September.

The event had already been postponed from its usual May timing, with government restrictions on gatherings now putting paid to the buying group’s plans to hold a later show. Despite support for the event, Toymaster has taken the decision to cancel the 2020 show, and focus on the 2021 May event instead, currently slated for 18th-20th May.

In an email to suppliers, MD Ian Edmunds said: “Due to the continuing need for social distancing, government restrictions on the number of people allowed to meet up, and ever conscious of the safety of attendees, the decision has been taken to cancel this September’s event.”

Suppliers are being given the option of a full refund, or booking for the 2021 show and carrying the money forward.