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Toy firms call for Government support for UK manufacturing

Those suppliers already producing items in the UK lobby for more incentives to enable others to do the same… by Katie Roberts

FOLLOWING THE news last month that Magmatic has bought production of Trunki suitcases from China to the UK, other suppliers in the toy industry have agreed that more support is needed in the area. Founder of Magmatic, Rob Law, was disappointed to find ‘zero’ Government support when moving his manufacturing base. He said: “I couldn’t find a single grant to help. I was more than a little bit astounded after hearing Cameron and Osborne preaching that the UK should be doing more manufacturing. “This lack of grant support, coupled with the scheduled reductions in the Annual Investment and Writing Down Allowances in April 2012, will undoubtedly affect our ability to bring more of our products back to the UK for production in the future.” However, the benefits of ‘home production’ are many. Andrew Finan, director of Kloo, which sources 80 per cent of its products in the UK, explained: “Sourcing in the UK means we are on the same time zone,

Kate Armitage, marketing director at Gibsons Games, said: “We benefit from shorter lead times meaning we are able to respond quickly to any sudden changes in demand.” The majority agree that further help is required. Holmes told ToyNews: “There is still a place for UK toy manufacturing but I can’t see it ever getting back to what it once was. I do think that the Government should do more to safeguard existing companies and encourage those that would like to get a foothold in UK production before it’s too late.” Simon Newbery, MD of Orchard

LAW: “After months of getting passed around Government departments, I couldn’t find a single grant to help”

have the same language and can have face to face meetings. “In essence we develop a real business relationship that goes beyond just cost comparison. If orders are complex and nuanced, then clear and open communications and regular meetings are essential.”

Lego UK executive is honoured by Asda

LEGO UK senior national account manager, Craig Mair has been named Account Manager of the Year in the Entertainment Division by Asda.

Mair (pictured) was chosen by the grocer from a pool of around 700 account managers, according to Asda’s commercial director John McDowell. Managing a portfolio of accounts, Mair has been at Lego UK

APRIL 2012

for 11 years, leading project management locally and internationally, maintaining and expanding relationships with clients and consistently surpassing sales targets.

He will shortly take on a new role as Lego UK senior customer marketing manager, where he will be responsible for working with key retailers to better understand the shopper, optimising space and productivity.

Lego UK: 01753 495000

Hannah Holmes, asset manager of Merrythought, which produces all its lines in the UK, added: “There are also the obvious benefits of supporting the British economy, providing much needed employment opportunities and safeguarding production skills for future generations.”

Toys, agreed: “Our customers both here and overseas tell us that ‘Made in Britain’ is important to them, but I can fully understand that for many, the numbers simply don’t stack up.” Some believe such requests aren’t realistic, but other types of support would help the industry. Gary Wyatt, MD, The Green Board Game Co, said: “One suggestion could be to offer capital allowances for new machinery and environmentally- friendly machinery such as cardboard compactors, so that as much waste as possible is recycled.”

This is the newest member of the VTech sales team, Gadget the Robot. His key skills apparently include attention to detail and the ability to teach numbers and letters, phonics, colours and objects to children aged three to seven. Set to be TV advertised in autumn/winter, Gadget includes a LCD screen which recognises 30 learning tokens, including 26

letters/objects tokens and four funny tokens. The robot’s body also spins around and the eyebrows and arms move, while sensors mean it reacts to clapping. “We are so pleased to have Gadget on the VTech team, improving our strength in electronic education for autumn 2012,” said Graham Canning, sales director at VTech. VTech: 01235 546844

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