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Wish you were here….it’s the Friday Blog!

Published on: 22nd August 2014

I’m currently on a long overdue and very welcome holiday, but there’s just enough time to share a few random thoughts before I head back out into the sun.

I finally got round to watching the Lego Movie on the plane (strictly for research purposes, obviously), which I have to say I enjoyed immensely. Just the right amount of self-deprecation and with its tongue firmly in its cheek, it’s no surprise that it turned out to be such a huge hit. Not sure what the bloke in the seat next to me thought when he glanced over at my screen though…

It was officially announced earlier this week that HTi’s MD Mark Walls has resigned to seek a new challenge. We wish him the best of luck with whatever comes next.

If you don’t already do so, I can recommend following the Toy Detective on Twitter; he often comes up with some rather interesting information before it becomes public knowledge, especially regarding Mothercare, where he obviously has a particularly well-placed contact. His latest piece of gossip concerns head of retail Nick Henwood, who has apparently resigned due to – and these are his inverted commas, not mine – ‘personal reasons’. However, our detective friend goes on to say that before he departs there is the little matter of chairing a redundancy collective consultation meeting, which he suggests will result in “P45’s all round”. I hope his suspicions are unfounded, but I fear he may be on the money as usual.

Mothercare isn’t the only nursery-based retailer experiencing tough times. Mamas & Papas announced earlier this week that it was trying to persuade creditors to accept a CVA (I’m not a big fan of those things, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t…), and with Kiddicare’s well-documented tribulations, it strikes me that it isn’t an easy time to be a nursery supplier. Thank goodness I publish a toy magazine and not a nursery one….

Amazon has announced that it will shortly be setting up shop in China’s Shanghai free trade zone, which suggests a strategy to beef up its presence in a market currently dominated by Alibaba and Beijing-based JD.com. Having posted a cool $126m nett loss in the second quarter, up from $7m in the same period last year, and with a forecast operating loss of between $410m – $810m for the third quarter (up from $25m last year), the company clearly needs to do something to assuage shareholders. I guess Amazon sees the Chinese market as a great opportunity for the future, despite many other foreign companies’ reluctance to become part of the free trade zone due to lack of clarity over what will and won’t be allowed in the zone.

Time to head back out to the pool, there’s a cocktail with my name on it. Enjoy your bank holiday, I hope the weather is kind to you wherever you plan to spend it.