The tail wagging the dog… it’s the Friday Blog!

Published on: 9th December 2016

I received a large number of emails about last Friday’s Blog – it seems that retail pricing remains as contentious a subject as ever. Based on the feedback to my comments, the finger of suspicion continues to point at Amazon – and to a lesser extent John Lewis – and the price comparison scanning programmes they operate, which automatically adjust prices depending on what their competitors are doing. Of course, when a ‘3 for 2’ promotion ends, a number of prices are automatically raised, which may account for a percentage of the price increases. But that certainly doesn’t tell the full story – as certain retailers were shown to have 95% of their price adjustments as decreases, that would suggest that once their prices go down, they don’t necessarily go back up. And all that is before you factor in those times when a small internet retailer closes out product at ridiculous prices, prompting Amazon to automatically respond. As one person commented: “Talk about the tail wagging the dog!”

There have been several notable new appointments this week: Adrian Leafe has joined Eduk8 Worldwide as UK and international sales manager – it’s great to see him back in the fold. Elsewhere, Mark Hyndman has been appointed as general manager of Alpha Group, where he will be responsible for launching the company’s UK subsidiary. For those who aren’t aware of the operation, they are one of China’s largest toy and animation companies, and having employed former Mattel country head Jean-Christophe Pean as president of US and Europe earlier this year, they clearly mean business. Finally, Lego has a new CEO, Bali Padda; Bali has worked at Lego for 14 years and interestingly, the new British boss is the first non-Danish CEO the company has ever had. We wish each of them the best in their respective new roles.

I felt very honoured to be invited to attend Character Option’s 25th anniversary celebration this week. As you would expect from Character, it was a spectacular event, with fantastic food, great entertainment and enough alcohol to keep distillers, vintners and brewers in profit for a very long time. In addition to all the current staff from both the Oldham and New Malden offices, Character invited a host of ex-colleagues from the past 25 years to attend, along with a selection of friends from around the trade. It was great to catch up with many people I hadn’t seen for a while such as Alan Caswell and Graham Thompson, and it was a privilege to be part of such a special evening. My favourite comment of the night came from one of Character’s team who rather candidly said to me: “You look bigger in the magazine.” There really is no comeback to that…

There’s just time to remind you that tickets are now on sale for the toy industry awards, which will take place at the end of the first day of Toy Fair, Tuesday 24th January. You can find more information and purchase your tickets here. I’ll be part of the judging panel for the toy retail awards this morning, while the retailers will be putting their heads together shortly to decide who will win the coveted category awards. These really are the toy industry’s pre-eminent awards, so good luck to all the nominees and may the best people and products win.