Thursday 2nd April: Latest toy industry reaction to coronavirus outbreak

Published on: 2nd April 2020

Today’s roundup includes store closures by B&M and companies that are offering free online resources.

Despite being granted “essential retailer” status, B&M has decided to temporarily close almost 50 of its 656 stores. The company said many of the shops are small-format stores, with some in shopping centres that have already closed due to the current government guidelines, and that 42 of the 49 stores are close to other larger B&Ms. The stores that will close have not yet been named, but the company said employees at the affected stores will be furloughed and other UK store and distribution workers will be paid 10% more to reflect the additional workload that government guidelines impose.

To engage families during the lockdown, Virgin Media has granted many subscribers free access to seven children’s channels until April 21st. Access will be applied automatically to customers on Virgin Media’s Mixit and Maxit bundles for Cartoon Network, Boomerang, Cartoonito, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr, NickToons and Nick Jr Too.

“With some parents across the UK at home with their little ones, Virgin Media is offering families a helping hand to keep their kids entertained,” the company said in a press release. “This includes family favourites such as Cartoon Network, Boomerang, Cartoonito and Nickelodeon. Across these channels, a range of shows from Ben 10, Paw Patrol, Teen Titans and classics like Tom and Jerry, ScoobyDoo and Spongebob Squarepants will be available for kids to watch. For extra flexibility, there’s also a thousand episodes On Demand.”

Providing online options to the public enables companies to maintain a brand presence while also delivering practical help and is a step many have already taken, and others are working towards.

Cartamundi, together with Intracto, is working on, a platform on which traditional playing card games from all over the world are brought together. Noting that “playing cards connect people and there is a deck of cards in almost every household,” the platform will provide easy access instructions, game rules and how to play videos. The goal of both companies is to help people “enjoy being together and making the most out of this difficult time.” The site will include popular card games, alongside country or culturally specific games. Initially launching with the rules of 100 card games, new options will be added regularly.

“Cartamundi is a global group with a strong local network. The platform is a unique collaboration between all the different Cartamundi companies, to connect people,“ commented Stefaan Merckx, CEO of Cartamundi. “It is the perfect way to make our purpose ’Sharing the Magic of Playing Together’ tangible.”

Intracto CEO Pieter Janssens added: “In moments of crisis, a company must look for ways to give back to society. We are proud to be a part of this project. A big thank you to our team and to the experts of Cartamundi for stepping up and creating this project so quickly.”

Orchard Toys has provided a range of free, printable worksheets and activities to help parents keep little ones busy. A range of activities on offer on the Orchard website includes Craft Ideas, Activity Sheets, Tasty Recipes, Fun Facts and Colouring Sheets. With simple designs and favourite characters from the Orchard range, the resources are designed to let children have fun whilst learning. Customers are invited to share their creations with the company on social media using #OrchardToys. The company’s full range of games, puzzles and colouring books is also available to order, and a selection of Home Learning Packs have been put together for different age groups.

GoldieBlox is hosting a special live Q&A on YouTube today (at noon PST) with Bat Virologist, Dorothy Tovar, to answer questions regarding COVID-19. The session promises to use simple terminology to provide families with a basic understanding of coronavirus and the importance of social distancing. Dorothy will answer questions about the virus and highlight the scientific facts around what’s happening with the pandemic. Questions can be submitted in advance via social media and the session can be viewed here

Toy World would like to wish a very Happy Birthday to Kids Stuff, Wells, which celebrated its 22nd birthday this week. As the shop is of course closed, the family told us that “celebrations were quite muted.” The anniversary was highlighted on on the store’s Facebook page however, with photos of the toyshop over the years. Many greetings from well-wishers were posted, with loyal customers expressing their intention to visit as soon as the popular local store is able to re-open.


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