As over 80 suppliers from the toy and gift arena head to Cranmore Park for the Independent Toy & Gift Show, we find out more from the organiser.

THE BIG INTERVIEW: Miles Penhallow, Head of Toys & Children’s Gifts, plaY-room

To kick us off, can you give me some background to Independent Toy & Gift?

The show in its present format is now in its third year. Previously known as ‘plaY-room at the Park’, a decision was made to rebrand the show in 2012 to better reflect our aims and to make it more inclusive for a variety of retailers. We have a dedicated team of three here at plaY-room, who co-ordinate and host the show and we are also lucky to have the help of our on-site facilities team, who build the stands and create our wonderful exhibition space.

How many exhibitors will you have for 2015?

All the stands are completely sold out, so we think that 2015 is going to be even bigger and better than last year. We have over 80 suppliers exhibiting.

Which companies will be first timers this year?

We have a number exhibiting for the first time including Best Years, Boxer Gifts, Clementoni, Click Distribution, Creative Models, GB eye, Neat Ideas and Orange Tree Toys, T.A.R.E.M.A and Tractor Ted.

Will there be any changes to the 2015 event over last year?

A first for this year’s show will be a variety of character appearances, which we believe will add further interest and energy to the show. Character Options will be offering live demonstrations and tastings of its new Yummy Nummie food range and we’ll also be adding some further demonstration tables for exhibitors.

What benefits have you seen since expanding the show to also include children’s gift suppliers?

PlaY-room are actively promoting children’s gift to its members in order to offer both a point of difference and an opportunity to enhance their margin mix. The show is the obvious platform for these suppliers to showcase their ranges. With children growing older quicker; we have noticed a growing trend in gift buying for children, of which the gifts are not necessarily toys and. We wanted to be at the forefront of this change.

What kind of feedback have you had from the toy suppliers who exhibit?

Suppliers enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and ease of set-up. We attract an eclectic mix of retail buyers and this allows exhibitors to meet buyers they may not usually reach.

How about the retailers?

Year after year we receive feedback from retailers telling us just how much they enjoy coming to the show. Not only can they see the key suppliers in the toy industry all under one roof, but they enjoy the wonderful facilities we have here at Cranmore Park. Our visitors often comment on the welcoming and relaxed atmosphere at our show, allowing buyers to make informed decisions in a comfortable environment.

If there is an indie who has never attended the show, what would you say to convince them they need to visit this year?

If having all the major toy suppliers under the one roof is not convincing enough, then perhaps the fact we make independent buyers who are not members very welcome. We believe that we offer the opportunity to meet a diverse range of suppliers, in a welcoming environment. Admission, Wi-Fi, parking, lunch and refreshments are all free for pre-registered visitors.

What are your aims for the show this year?

To continue to grow our attendance, visitor numbers and attract new membership enquiries to plaY-room. In the long-term, we would like to be the independent’s show of choice in the toy and children’s gift calendar.

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