First, some good news to kick things off: Argos’ sales are on the rise, for the first time in five years no less. Like-for-likes rose 2.1% over the past year, with sales of tablets and educational learning products cited as particularly bright spots. After spending a considerable while in the doldrums, it seems that the fight back has well and truly begun for Argos, which will be heartily welcomed by many toy suppliers.
Huge congratulations are also in order for Mind Candy and its Moshi Monsters brand, which celebrated its fifth birthday with an ‘all-singing, all-dancing’ birthday bash at its trendy new HQ this week. It really has been an incredible first five years for Moshi. They have certainly proved that a number of long-held industry beliefs – you can’t have a successful kids property without a TV show, for starters – no longer apply. With a Moshi movie coming later in the year, and new properties undoubtedly in the pipeline, I’m sure the years ahead will be equally eventful for the Mind Candy team.
Sadly it’s not all rosy in the (toy) garden; I was sad to hear that Goodacres Toymaster has been forced to close down. Both the Horsham and Bognor branches have been shut, with the owners blaming rent increases and increased competition from the internet and other toy stores. Several suppliers contacted us to say how disappointed they were, and how much they’d enjoyed dealing with Roy and Pauline over the years. They certainly seem to have been well thought of by their suppliers and peers, and we wish them well in their early retirement.
Goodacres wasn’t the only unfortunate closure this week (and I’m not talking about the Spice Girls Musical either…that was entirely justified): online virtual world Minimonos announced that it will be closing down its website on 12th May, whilst we also understand that online retailer Kids Play Store has gone into voluntary liquidation (having previously suffered a similar fate a couple of years ago). In the case of Kids Play Store, murmurings had begun last year when it was promoting lines on its site at ridiculous, below-cost prices, and sometimes without even appearing to have any stock of the item in question. As the old adage goes, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Thanks to all of you who have got in touch with positive feedback on our May issue, which hit desks nice and early this month. I trust we’ve given you plenty of time to fully digest its contents before the Toymaster show in two weeks’ time. The Toy World team is looking forward to seeing you all there.
In the meantime, have a great Bank Holiday weekend, and if you happen to catch the football results at 2.40 or thereabouts on Saturday afternoon, spare a thought for me and my little home town club: I will either be massively elated or – in traditional football parlance – ‘sick as a parrot’, depending on whether Watford make it back to the Premiership or not. Either way, I am sure I will be glad of the extra day off on Monday so my voice can recover – apparently I have been known to get quite excitable on occasions such as these. Altogether now: “He’s only five foot three, he comes from Italy, Gianfranco….”
You can follow John on Twitter here: @Baulchtweet.