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retailerinfocus Enter the Jessica King buyer of childrenswear and toys O

pened in August on the fourth floor of Selfridges department store, the Toy Shop at Selfridges is the result of a focused investment in products and environment, with a competitive range of prices available to the

consumer. The product mix is wide, with some of the best-known toys – from My Little Pony to Thomas the Tank Engine and Scalextric – sitting alongside the latest in learning toy innovations and the world’s first 3D printed dolls. Jessica King’s background is actually from fashion buying, but her knowledge of that area seems only to have benefited the team with regards to the planning and implementation of The Toy Shop. This is because the entire concept of the space is based around providing a carefully curated edit of the best products in the market, and applied with the same principles used to create fashion ventures at the iconic retailer. Jessica explained: “The Toy Shop is a multi-million pound investment that has been over a year in the making, and is the first time such a dedicated space has been at Selfridges in ten years. The space really is a destination, and we believe our visitors will find it to be a unique experience that they won’t get anywhere else. For me, it’s so exciting to be part of such an ambitious and successful project, especially when you see it come to life in the store after months of planning and hard work.” With such an undertaking ahead of the team, I wanted to know what factors influenced their choices of which categories and products to stock. Jessica revealed that the team worked tirelessly in the months preceding the launch to select over 2,500 product styles available across over 40 brands. She said: “When we planned the space, we wanted it to be accessible to everyone, which is apparent in the product price points on offer, from 99p all the way up to £25,000. Most importantly, we wanted our customers to have a truly unforgettable experience here, and we constantly strive to surprise and amaze them. Our ‘toy icons’,

20 Toyworld

This year, as part of a store-wide initiative to create one of the most engaging and exciting shopping environments in the world, the Toy Shop returned to Selfridges London as a permanent department. Toy World’s Tom Roberts caught up with Jessica King, buyer of childrenswear and toys at Selfridges, to find out more.

such as Barbie, My Little Pony and Scalextric, form the foundation of the range and will sit alongside the latest in toy innovations.”

This dedicated section, and the move of toys to a new floor in the store, clearly marks the increasing importance of toys to Selfridges’ business model, as Jessica confirmed: “What we have worked to create is an accessible and inclusive environment for the whole family, and to re-establish Selfridges as a shopping destination for everyone, young or old. Dividing the new toy department into seven easy-to-shop zones has also helped to ensure that what we ended up with was an interactive space that didn’t overwhelm and confuse, but somewhere that was well-edited and easy to navigate. I think we have achieved that.” Heading up the escalators from the third floor into

the Toy Shop, shoppers enter the first zone where Barbie has taken up residence in a dedicated section, which also contains Monster High and Ever After High dolls.

The Plush zone features ranges such as Jellycat’s animal toys, Sylvanian Families, and My Little Pony (introducing six new characters from the Equestria Girls range). The zone also features Furby, a sell-out for Selfridges last Christmas. The Wooden and Retro zone offers a selection of nostalgic and traditional toys from ABC’s Penguin Race Game to Fisher Price’s Chatter Telephone. Products from Le Toy Van and Vilac are also key in this zone. For all things car-related, the Garage zone features

over 100 types of model cars, race tracks and play-sets surrounding a permanent space for brand demos and racing competitions. Scale models from Nikko sit alongside race tracks and model sets from Carrera,

with younger children catered for by VTech’s interactive Toot-Toot Drivers range. Scalextric also features prominently, with its Digital Platinum box set tipped by Selfridges to be a strong performer this Christmas. Tech Toys, proving one of the fastest expanding

categories in the toy trade this year, feature in their own zone with key items such as the LeapFrog LeapPad Ultra and VTech’s Innotab 3S taking centre stage. The iPieces collection from Jumbo also features in this zone.

The Create and Play zone features a collection of ways for children to embrace their creativity, such as Seedling’s range of do-it-yourself playsets and painting boards by Jeujura. The final zone features a wide range of character- based toys from Spiderman, Star Wars, Iron Man, and, ahead of the highly-anticipated Transformers 4 movie, Optimus Prime and friends are taking pride of place. But Selfridges is not just letting the easy-to-navigate

zones do all the work, there are also a variety of special events planned across the Christmas trading period in the Toy Shop. Jessica told me: “There will be brand demonstrations throughout the floor, character appearances, pop-ups, and entertainment from the likes of Gifford Circus and daily workshops from Indytute. Our roaming Santa will also be up on the fourth floor Emporium to greet families and suggest gifts. There really is so much going on.” And what of the future? What happens to the Toy

Shop post-Christmas? Jessica was quick to confirm that the Toy Shop is indeed a permanent fixture that will continue to evolve. She said: “Plans for an exciting re-launch next Spring/Summer are already well under way, so watch this space.”

Selfridges top five toys for Christmas Toy World can exclusively reveal the top five toys tipped by Selfridges to be on Christmas lists this December:

• Furby Boom (Hasbro)

• Teksta (Character Options) • Robo Fish (Zuru)

• Monster High 13 Wishes Doll (Mattel) • Makies Bespoke 3D Printed Doll (exclusive to Selfridges)

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