"We work very hard on the school side, constantly amending our range to suit what the schools are looking for," says firm.

Schools driving Artstraws success

Arts and crafts firm, Artstraws has enjoyed a positive 2014, largely thanks to the school market.

Around 60 per cent of the company’s turnover goes in to the school market, as Artstraws supplies the companies that supply schools with equipment. The other 40 per cent goes in to the retail market.

“2014 has been strong because it’s been very good on the school side,” Artstraws, MD Roger Russell told ToyNews. “We work very hard on the school side, constantly amending our range to suit what the schools are looking for.

“We have been around a long time in the school market, but the schools used to know us for Artstraws alone. Now they know us for our arts and craft range and our Play & Discover range.

“It’s very rewarding to know that children are using our products to help them right the way through the curriculum. When they are using artstraws or pipe cleaners in art classes, it helps little kids become more dextrous and have fine motor control, which helps them learn to write.”

The firm has also had a good year when it comes to awards with its Play & Discover range.

Its Play People was awarded a Gold by Practical Pre-School magazine, while its Pipe Pieces with Wheels was awarded a Silver by Primary Teacher Update.

Russell added: “We are extremely chuffed with the awards. If you think of pipe cleaners and feathers, we try to give good service, good prices and good quality product, but none of that is ever going to win an award. So, with our Play & Discover range winning an award, we were really pleased with that.”

On the retail side, Artstraws has found greater success with the independents and believes some of the larger toy retailers are missing out by avoiding arts and crafts lines.

Russell said: “We do well with independent toy retailers but we don’t do anything with the likes of The Entertainer and Smyths. Back in the late 90s, we supplied big stores like Tesco, Boots and Woolworths but they were always after something new, so we opted out of all of that.

“There are groups out there that are missing a trick because the margin you can make on our product is really good. The independents are aware of that and know that it works. The products are consumable so the customer comes back for more.”

Artsraws will be introducing new products at London Toy Fair in January.

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