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Bang on trend 2

013 has been a significant year of change for Trends with considerable investment in new people and product development. The company was originally formed in 2002, and had grown to become a top 30 player and the leading

Science toy company, exporting to over 25 different countries. Experienced toy trade doyen Graham Spark bought into the company in Spring 2013, joining as sales and marketing director, and the business subsequently moved into new premises in May this year. The rest of the year has seen a steep change in the reshaping of the business, and Trends enters 2014 with a new structure, a number of major new ranges added to the portfolio and a whole new outlook on the way the company will operate going forward. “The time was right to make some fundamental changes to the way we trade” admits co-founder and managing director Lee Clowes, “I feel that we are now set up to become a more diversified toy company. We’ve trimmed some fat in the business and re-focussed our investment in people and product. We have a very successful core business in the Science market, which gives us a great platform to build on and we’ve identified some great new opportunities which take us into completely different categories. We’ll be making a major move into the girls market in 2014, and we will also have our strongest-ever Spring/Summer offering.”

The company is now effectively split into two

separate divisions: Trends UK and Ignite Network Ltd, both offering different routes to market. Trends will focus on domestic distribution and FOB for a range of key brands: the core Science range -including the Discovery Channel and Haynes licensed lines, the SPYZ range and brand new girls line Glitza (of which more later) will come under the Trends umbrella, as will third party distribution ranges from WowWee and

Toy World caught up with Trends UK’s Graham Spark and Lee Clowes to find out how a year of change has affected the company, and what’s coming in 2014. John Baulch reports.

a number of new companies which Trends will be representing for the first time in 2014. “We’ve signed up some fantastic new ranges,” says Graham, “covering a broad range of product sectors which we haven’t been involved with previously. Key focus will be given to Kid Designs, who have a superb Barbie electronics range and we’ve picked up the rights to handle the Color me Mine range from CIFE, we’re really excited about their range of fashion bags which girls can colour in themselves.” Ignite Network will focus on direct to retail FOB distribution, where the company currently represent 3 key manufacturers: WowWee, Just Play and Kidz Tech. The latter specialises in radio control vehicles, with a Bugatti licence in particular helping to “open doors” according to Graham. Just Play – an American-based company formed 3 years ago by ex-CDI and Play Along executives – offers among other things a broad range of licensed role play items featuring key Disney and Mattel properties, including a Barbie styling head which is expected to be a strong seller.

Trends directors Lee Clowes and Graham Spark

heavyweight campaign launching in January on Glitza. This is a range of glitter tattoos which will work on any surface: from skin to t-shirts, hats, fashion accessories and mobile phone covers. Girls are going to love them.” As well as adding a host of new lines to their

Lee Clowes is confident about prospects for the

New Year: “Our core range remains very autumn/ winter focused, “he admits, “and we knew we needed to bolster our Spring/Summer presence. SPYZ will certainly help with that, as will the Color me Mine range and Glitza. Both of the girls ranges will be TV advertised in the spring with a

portfolio, Trends is adopting more of a customer- focused approach going forward. “We have a new office and showroom in the UK and we’ve opened a permanent Hong Kong showroom facility for the first time,” says Lee. “And we’re also coming back to exhibit at Toy Fair for the first time since 2004. In particular, we really want to re-engage with the independent trade. We have a lot more to offer them in 2014: the range is far broader, it will be available domestically, and there will be a team of agents covering the country. We will be significantly increasing our marketing investment, covering TV, trade, merchandising, PR and social media. We are anticipating a big step forward for Trends next year.”

32 Toyworld

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