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INDUSTRY ROUNDTABLE The


Which current trend is having the most impact in your business? Simon Hedge: Several are making themselves felt which we endeavor to keep up with. App toys previously hadn’t been seen as successful in the industry despite some quite high profile launches, last year we introduced Appen from our GP Tech team and it’s proved really popular so expect to see more in this area.


Jerry Healy: The demand for trusted properties but with modern updates is where we are finding growth.


Dominic Geddes: Technology will continue to impact not only from a toy manufacturers point of view, but from consoles as well. We are seeing lots of tablet launches, plus the new gaming consoles. Technology will increasingly become a focus for parents and children and take a share of their spend.


Clive Wooster: I guess it’s no real news to anyone but the later consumers shop, the harder we find it to forecast and plan accurately. In reality it means we’ll have underplayed some of our stronger products and missed out on the second bite of the cherry. I am definitely old enough to remember making first drops in September and getting repeat orders in October, November and December – that really doesn’t happen very much these days.


Nicolai Lindhardt: The continued growth of ecommerce and the reduction of retail space dedicated to toys. I believe there will always be a need for brick and mortar stores, but consumers today are much more demanding than ever before and expect a good shopper experience. For retailers the challenge is clear, unless you can provide good in-store experience, great service and good knowledgeable staff, it will be a challenge to compete with large online retailers.


www.toynews-online.biz


What was your highlight of 2013? Neil Bandtock: Crayola’s biggest year ever.


Clive Wooster: I’d probably say the first few weeks of Nenuco ROS data from retailers. When we saw the first week’s sales, we said “that’s okay”, then the next week grew and that trend has continued right through. Although the plans were pretty compelling, I don’t think there are many of us who can 100 per cent guarantee winners so it’s always nice when a plan comes together.


Jerry Healy: The continued success of ChillFactor through autumn/winter and the fact that we have proved that it’s an all year- round product was a personal highlight for me. We have major development for this brand for 2014 so we expect the ChillFactor success to be even greater this year.


Dominic Geddes: Thomas – we have really started to see the benefit of the HIT acquisition. The product range is great and we are now in the perfect position to maximise our strategic vision for this brand.


Simon Hedge: Seeing the company reach so many targets in respect of new launches and growth have been the main highlights. Bringing to fruition the full roll out of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtlesand seeing it take off with fans young and old has been very exciting for the whole team. Of course we have set new targets for 2014 which involves all kinds of new challenges.


Nicolai Lindhardt: Joining Tomy, of course. When the opportunity at Tomy came up I was very excited about it, especially after learning more about the integration process that the company and the newly acquired RC2 were going through. Personally, I think the acquisition was an interesting move, very much in line with Tomy


Japan’s desire to establish itself as a truly global player. The acquisition of


RC2 makes Tomy one of the only companies that controls its own distribution in all markets, particularly Japan, where it dominates, and the US and Europe.


What are the biggest challenges facing the toy industry at present? Have these changed over the past year? Simon Hedge: Despite some talk of growing consumer confidence, the toy industry has still had a challenging year in some quarters. We are in a very buoyant mood for Toy Fair.


Jerry Healy: The obvious challenges are the economic climate and achieving price points with increased manufacturing costs. The decrease in spending on the High Street over the past two to three years also has the direct effect on retailers being less willing to take a risk with brand new concepts. But there is a good sign that a return to confident trading is on the horizon and our autumn previews have been extremely positive.


Neil Bandtock: The biggest challenge for the industry is sustaining profitability for both retail and manufacturers as costs are rising faster than prices. However, the toy sector has been remarkably resilient during the recession, so hopefully there will be a positive bounce-back in the coming years with the UK’s birth rate rise kicking in.


Nicolai Lindhardt: I believe that the toy industry, like many others, is changing, and as a company we must too. Effectively, we are working to future proof our business by working to better meet the requirements of our customers at all levels, from retailers to consumers and to the actual shopper.


toy sector has been remarkably


resilient during the recession. Neil Bandtock, Vivid


Tomy has


experienced double digit growth, largely driven by the UK. Nicolai Lindhardt, Tomy


We have really


started to see the benefit of the HIT acquisition. Dominic Geddes, Mattel


January/February 55


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