Kate Gibson: “Taking on my role at Gibsons was a year of wondering ‘was I doing the right thing?'”

Each month, ToyNews picks on one industry bigwig to put through the ringer with a series of questions. This month, it’s Gibsons’ managing director, Kate Gibson

What have the past 12 months been like over at Gibsons?

It’s been a really strong past year, actually. We are delighted and I am not sure where it has come from. Last year was challenging, particularly the second half, but this has been a really good start to the year; it’s been a combination of great product launches at the start of the year, as well as out ongoing Centenary celebrations that has generated a lot of noise.

We recently had the NPD stats come in that verified that we are the leading manufacturer of adult jigsaw puzzles, in terms of greatest sales, and that is making a big impact. Our customers are hearing that message, mainly because we talk about it at every opportunity we get.

What do you make of the health of the sector at the moment – both in performance and in innovation coming through?

On challenges, the big sticking point is the volatility of the market and the not knowing what is going on politically. It creates a nervousness in everyone and you see that on the High Street – it’s become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

But in terms of innovation, we’re in a good place. There’s a huge amount going on in games and puzzles right now, which, as we know from NPD, are very healthy. Although not reflected in the rest of the industry there’s something going on that suggest games and puzzles are the antidote.

How did you first get into the Gibsons business?

I was in marketing elsewhere at first, which was all good experience before I joined Gibsons 15 years ago. I joined in 2005 and took up various roles, before in 2016, I took up the role of managing director.

That was a year of questioning, wondering if it was the right thing; would I be juggling family and responsibility? Once I took the plunge, I have never looked back. It was one of those bizarre things, that it was meant to be. I really enjoy it, I thrive on it now.

It’s been great to take the company forward, into the next generation and through that period of evolution.

What has been the best moment of your career to date?

Blimey Rob… tough questions… But it would have to be, taking our company into its fourth generation and leading us through our centenary year. In addition, I have an ongoing sense of pride in seeing our outstanding team driven and motivated to achieve company growth and targets.

Can you think of a stand out moment growing up that put you on this path in the toy industry?

I remember going up to the toy show as a child, and there was a moment when Trevor and Simon, the British comedy duo, were hosting a promo for Gibsons: How many games of Uno can you play in a Fiat Uno. Uno became a big hit for Gibsons back when we distributed it. I always remember playing family games like that. Nowadays, my youngest daughter is five and she loves playing Uno.

What’s next on the list for Gibsons then?

Well, as well as the perfect puzzle, green strategy and continuing to make Gibsons a great place to work, we are focusing on International growth and our new International Account Manager, Alice Tournaire is making great progress and signing up new distributors in China, Australia and much more.

About Robert Hutchins

Robert Hutchins is the editor of Licensing.biz and ToyNews. Hutchins has worked his way up from Staff Writer to the position of Editor across the two titles, having spent almost eight years with both ToyNews and Licensing.biz, and what now seems like a lifetime surrounded by toys. You can contact him by emailing robert.hutchins@biz-media.co.uk or calling him on 0203 143 8780 You can even follow him on Twitter @RobGHutchins if ranting is your thing...

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