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We’re all in this together…it’s the Friday Blog!

Published on: 5th August 2016

Attending a couple of spring summer previews recently, it is no surprise that talk turns almost immediately to the ramifications of Brexit and how other toy companies are approaching it. The truth is that there is no magic wand, nor – as far as I can tell – a ‘one size fits all’ solution. I suspect most companies will be engaged in a comprehensive review of their portfolios, taking it item by item. Can some widget be removed from a product or the packaging to take out some cost? Will a supplier or factory be able to help out with the pricing? Can an individual item take a price rise and, if so, how much? In the end, whatever decision is reached, it has to work for the supplier, retailer and consumer – not an easy balancing trick. Some key price points will almost certainly remain sacrosanct (£4.99, £9.99), but perhaps will we see the emergence of new intermediary price points (£21.99, 23.99) to help make the sums add up? A big challenge, but one where just about everyone is in the same boat; after all, most retailers will be aware from their FOB and own brand programmes of the challenges that suppliers are facing. So, as they say, we’re all in this together.

Although we’re in the depths of summer, traditionally perceived as a quiet(er) time for the toy market, there have been a number of interesting stories breaking over the past few days.

Speaking exclusively to Toy World earlier this week, Toy Store CFO Mark Handley maintains that despite the closure of its Oxford Street branch last month, the retailer intends to retain a presence in the UK market and is currently in negotiation with two as yet unspecified UK-based shopping malls, with a view to opening stores in both locations. According to Mark, one outlet is scheduled to open in 2017, while the second is being targeted for 2018. You can read the full story here.

It has also been confirmed that Thomas Randrup has left Revell after 16 years. Although it was formally announced this week, I understand that Thomas actually resigned back in May and will be on gardening leave until his new role starts in October. It will certainly be interesting to see where he pops up next. Following Thomas’s departure, Jamie Mabbs has been promoted to head of sales for the UK and Ireland at Revell. We wish them both all the best in their new roles.

Talking of people on the move, I also hear that Darran Garnham has recently left his position as VP EMEA International Consumer Products at NBC Universal. If rumours around the trade are accurate, it appears that his next role may bring him closer to the toy market – we’ll keep you posted.

I originally heard several weeks ago that Wooky Entertainment had entered Chapter 11, but it was officially confirmed this week. The UK team has stated that it is doing its best to ensure outstanding orders will still be delivered, so hopefully any potential short-term disruption will be kept to a minimum.

Spin Master has unveiled its fifth acquisition since its IPO in 2015, the latest company to join the fold being pool & outdoor toy manufacturer Swimways. The deal takes the company into yet another new category, and given how well Spin Master is performing in other areas, you wouldn’t bet against it becoming a significant player in this sector over the coming years.

The August edition of Toy World landed on desks earlier this week – you can read the digital version online here. It’s the final issue of our fifth year of publishing: next month’s September edition represents the start of our sixth year, and it’s shaping up to be an absolute corker. But for now, I’m sure you will find plenty of interesting content in the August issue to keep you occupied.

Finally, after one of our competitors amusingly misprinted the title of the new Star Wars movie as ‘Rouge One’ not once but twice in an online story earlier this week, I subsequently found this rather bizarre item on the Boots website. A Max Factor collection of ‘looks inspired by Star Wars and a tutorial on how to achieve them.’ So perhaps it wasn’t a typo after all? I know Disney is keen to expand the film’s appeal to a broader demographic, but surely this is a step too far. Perhaps the Licensing Awards should introduce a category for the most inappropriate or tenuous cash-in ever? I’m sure there would be a number of worthy nominees. You couldn’t make it up…literally!