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There’s never a dull moment in the toy trade….it’s the Friday Blog!

Published on: 15th August 2014

Amazon has been getting into more fights this week. This time it was Disney’s turn to come under fire, after Amazon halted pre-orders of movies such as Maleficent and Captain America in what would appear to be another example of a contract dispute which has turned ugly. But this time Amazon is arguably picking on someone its own size, making it a veritable clash of the titans (or maybe Alien vs Predator?!). Somehow I can’t imagine Disney reacting particularly well to this turn of events. Light blue touch paper, stand well back….

The Entertainer will open its latest branch in West Bromwich this Saturday. I hear on the grapevine that Swindon is next, with a new store being refitted at the moment. My source points out that Swindon has – and I quote – “never been a good town for toy retailers”. It will be interesting to see whether The Entertainer can make it work where others have struggled.

Meanwhile Smyths has confirmed that its new Grimsby branch will open on 27th September, while a new branch in Inverness will go live in mid-October. Hardly a week goes by without an announcement about a new branch of either Smyths or The Entertainer (and sometimes both): the two retailers are clearly embarking on an aggressive expansion campaign, which will bring fresh competition to independent retailers across the country, not to mention other major accounts (I’ve heard fascinating tales of measures taken by Argos and Toys R Us to coincide with the recent launch of a new branch of Smyths, including sabotaging a sign pointing the way to the new store by turning it the wrong way round!).

Six weeks after its failed takeover of Mothercare, Destination Maternity CEO Ed Krell has stepped down, having seemingly become the fall guy for the doomed bid, which observers have subsequently pointed out was ridiculous from the off. Thankfully the whole fiasco doesn’t seem to have done any harm to Mothercare themselves.

Hamleys has announced that it will be opening a new branch in Moscow, which will apparently be Europe’s biggest toy store. But judging by a comment I picked up on LinkedIn, the move has already attracted local controversy, with Russian retail giant Detsky Mir particularly aggrieved, as it had planned to launch its own flagship store in the same location. Not to mention, of course, the question of whether now is the most appropriate or sensitive time to be expanding one’s operation in Russia….

There have been a couple of fantastic movie trailers released recently. If you haven’t seen them, I’ve posted links below: I would heartily advise you to carve out some time to watch them both (purely in the interest of trade research of course).

First up is the new Penguins of Madagascar trailer, which I have to say is absolutely hilarious:

As indeed is the new SpongeBob SquarePants trailer:

I genuinely cannot wait to see both movies (again, purely from a professional point of view…..you have to love this job!).

Finally, amongst all the heartfelt and emotional tributes to Robin Williams this week, one simple image stood out for me. This amazing actor gave a host of incredible performances across his career, but perhaps none finer than his voiceover of the Genie in Aladdin. As tributes go, the Hollywood Academy’s tweet was damn near perfect: the image below was accompanied by three words, which simply said “Genie, you’re free.”

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