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INFLUENTIAL EXECS


NEIL BANDTOCK UK Managing Director, Vivid Imaginations


Bandtock started his toy career at Palitoy/Kenner Parker in the 1980s, launching Star Wars toys and Trivial Pursuit on an unsuspecting world, as well as running brands such as Play-Doh, Tiny Tears and Action Man. He then followed Nick Austin to Matchbox Toys, where, as well as revitalising the Matchbox brand, the team also resurrected Dinky and


launched Koosh into the UK. Bandtock was a founding director of Vivid over 20


years ago and, as UK MD, his responsbilities include the firm’s sales and marketing departments, as well as the group R&D and QA functions.


THIERRY BOURRET Managing Director, Asobi


Asobi celebrates its fifth birthday in January, and for someone with no previous experience of the toy industry, what Bourret has achieved is pretty astonishing. Originally trained as a chef in his native France, Bourret also worked at Hitachi for 11 years. However, he became frustrated by the lack of high quality toys available that would allow his son to use his imagination – and in


2009 he left Hitachi to create Asobi. Two years ago, Bourret created the Slow Toy


Movement, a campaign which crowns seven toys that ignite imagination, inspire creativity and give children the freedom to develop at their own pace.


JON DIVER Joint Managing Director, Character Options


Diver has been at Character Options since its conception. He is responsible for the construction of the line, obtaining licences such as Peppa Pig, Fireman Samand Doctor Who, plus brand acquisition like Chill Factor, Teksta and Minecraft, as well as taking an active role in product development. Diver works closely with his fellow directors at


the firm – Joe Kissane, Kiran Shah and Richard King – plus other long standing members, such as Jerry Healy and Michael Hyde, in creating a forward thinking and fast moving toy company. Diver is also the chairman of Toy Fair, a post he has held for the past two years.


DOMINIC GEDDES VP & Country Manager, UK & Nordics, Mattel


Geddes has recently celebrated 15 years with Mattel – joining the company through Mattel’s acquisition of Bluebird in 1998. He started his illustrious career in the toy industry when he joined Ideal Toys as a young salesman as, he points out, that was the quickest way to get a company car. He then went on to work at Hasbro, before joining


Bluebird in 1990. Apart from a brief stint as a flying instructor (we think that’s another story), Geddes has built his career in sales, rising to his current position of vice president and country manager for the UK and Nordics.


34 January/February


TONY BELFORD Managing Director, Simba Smoby Toys UK


With nearly four decades of toy experience, Belford is one of the true pioneers of the industry. The first man in the toy business to realise the opportunities of selling European product in the UK on an FOB business, Belford was also a keen driver in the development of the toy offering within the grocery and discount sectors.


Constantly innovating to stay ahead of a rapidly changing marketplace, Belford created, with the Simba Dickie Group, Simba Smoby Toys in 2009. Now one of the strongest licensees in the UK, he leads one of the fastest growing companies in the UK top 20.


GRAHAM BRENNAN Managing Director, Epoch making toys


Joining the toy industry in 1986, Brennan has 27 years of experience in the business, having held roles at Meccano and Playmobil. During his 14- year tenure as commercial director at Playmobil, he succeeded in delivering sustained growth for the firm, with a gross average of 19 per cent per annum.


During his time at the company, Playmobil won


Stand of the Year twice at Toy Fair (in 2009 and 2013) and also Supplier of the Year. Brennan has now taken up his role at the newly formed Epoch making toys as MD with a remit to establish Sylvanian Families as the number one girls collectable.


PAUL FOGARTY Managing Director, K’Nex UK


Fogarty brings more than two decades of toy industry experience to his role at K’Nex. He began his career at Tyco Toys as commercial manager and his extensive experience has seen him take on key positions with notable brands in the industry.


Among his achievements was his contribution to the turn around of the Radica electronic


games business while VP of sales, with product launches including 20Q and Cube World. He also enjoyed a stint as general sales manager at Mattel. Now with K’Nex he is passionate about delivering success for a brand that he has admired for some time.


KEITH GRAFHAM CEO, Green Board Games


Grafham says that he has been fortunate enough throughout his career to combine his entrepreneurial spirit and sense of fun, with his passion for seeing people develop. From running mobile skateparks for young people and building schools in Africa, to now developing and producing board games, it’s fair to say Grafham has had a varied career.


In his first two years as CEO of Green Board Games, he


oversaw growth of nearly 50 per cent. Similar growth is expected over the next few years as he implements an aggressive strategy to cement the firm’s reputation in the industry and as a household name for quality games.


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