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Companyinfocus A “W for Christmas

Ty’s products graced the windows of Hamleys across 2013, most recently in the retailer’s famous Christmas windows. Toy World’s Tom Roberts spoke to Mark Swallow, chairman of Ty UK, to fi nd out more.

e’ve been working with Hamleys for many years, and the opportunity to appear in its windows in 2013

first arose over the Summer, and naturally we took it. The appearance of Ty products in the famous Christmas windows rolled on from that initial appearance; when we were offered them we jumped at the chance,” said Mark Swallow, Ty UK’s chairman. Hamleys unveiled its Christmas windows at 5pm on the 6th November. The event featured appearances by some of Santa’s little helpers, Santa himself and the Hamleys Bear. The floors and walls of Regent Street were also covered with real snow and lit up by Christmas lights. Shoppers were also entertained with activities on the doorstep of the famous store, a choir and singing bears. Ty’s range of Beanie Boos in particular was present in two of Hamleys’ windows that flanked the main entrance (see pictures). Mark commented: “The bigger picture for us is

that Hamleys’ windows really act as windows to the whole world, and being a part of that really helps build the name and brand recognition of our products. But it’s not unique to the UK, it’s actually something we do across Europe. We have products in display in some of the biggest retailers on mainland Europe. For example, we have displays in Galeries Lafayette in France, Karstadt in Germany, and El Corte Inglés in Spain. But with Hamleys we really like to be able to maintain continuity with our appearances because we’ve always done it whenever we can. Also, you can’t deny how amazing Regent Street looks at Christmas, it has so much heritage and always makes a big impact on shoppers and businesses alike.”

Across the year 2013 started off with Ty UK taking time to refocus its offering and approach to the UK market. The company began to pull out of working with supermarkets and instead move to working more closely with high-end retailers such as Fenwicks, Hamleys, Selfridges and John Lewis. The aim was to step up the profile of the products as part of a strategy realignment. Mark commented: “We were concerned that pulling out of supermarkets would have a negative impact on our business,

30 Toyworld

considering the volumes they can stock, but the shift to working with high-end retailers has actually had completely the opposite effect. We are in an extremely strong position as we move into 2014. We’ve also worked really hard at creating brand statements at retail. Fenwicks, for example, has benefitted from bespoke Ty display units created just for them this year. It’s all part of the high-end service we want to be able to provide to retailers.” Ty’s Beanie Boos have proved themselves a

core driver for the business across 2013, and so too have the Peppa Pig licensed items, with Mark adding that it’s because “she continually reinvents herself, thereby generating consistant appeal”. Beanie Boos occupy two of the windows at Hamleys, with the company’s Monsters and Ballz range also taking space in the displays. The company has experienced similar successes with its evergreen licensed products including Disney (as part of the Disney Ballz range, marking the first time Ty has entered into partnered with Disney worldwide), Hello Kitty and My Little Pony items in particular. Mark commented: “My Little Pony really stands out among 2013’s offering

because we were totally taken aback with how successful it has been; we can’t keep up with it.”

Looking ahead The company obviously feels invigorated by its successes in 2013, and is ready to face 2014. Mark said: “We will continue to invest in the high-end retail programme we have begun, and maintain the support for independent retailers across the UK. As mentioned, we will also be offering in- store display units and marketing support to our customers. “Our aim is to re-invent ourselves and our

offering every year, and 2014 is no exception. We will be launching a new range for My Little Pony, and are keen to see it perform as well as the other products have this year. Hello Kitty too will see new launches, and we will continue to refresh and expand our core offerings, which continue to prove very popular. “Retailers are always looking for new and fresh items that will give them the advantage in the marketplace, and we aim to be there to provide them.”

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