The latest in a series of articles exploring and celebrating the homegrown British toy design and production scene across all stages of its development, ToyNews catches up with the internationally reaching gifting, toy, and craft specialist, Rex London to talk about the successes of 2020 and how a healthy retailer relationship can lead to the achievement of great things.
Long-time champions of the analogue play sector, Rex London, says that “all things considered” it has had a pretty successful 2020, citing and celebrating the resilience of the UK’s retail landscape and its ability to adjust to the new ways of operating.
Having suffered, like the many, from ‘severely reduced wholesale orders’ when the implications of the pandemic and the lockdown measures taken really started to hit home in spring last year, the gifting specialist has been buoyed by a retail scene that ‘bounced back’ and adapted to the crisis
As those trade customers began to increase their online presence and offer additional services such as click and collect, so too, did the firm begin to see a pick up in order numbers. Add to this the surge in demand for toys and crafts kits that would lure children away from their screens and back to physical play that shows all the signs of continuing well into 2021, and Rex London is feeling particularly confident about the year ahead.
“Brexit has thrown a few spanner in the works for 2021 with our EU trade customers, so the focus at the moment is to try and streamline all those exports,” Anna Williams, marketing and communications manager at Rex London, told ToyNews.
“Europe is a key market for us so we will very much be keeping our fingers on the pulse of what’s going on from a legislative standpoint, and what our wholesale customers are asking from us, Otherwise, it’s been really pleasing to see so many of our traders starting to move forward and we’re hoping for a successful year for us and our wonderful trade customers.”
Part of the the plan for the gifting specialist who has managed to leave its mark on the games, puzzles, and crafting kit sectors with its bold design and often vintage look and appeal (one for the parents and the surging adult toy buyer market, perhaps?) of its products, is to continue to invest in the development of new lines and launches, “despite the economic uncertainty.”
“It’s what we have always done and it’s what our customers expect from us,” said Williams. “We will make sure we are able to continually bring in new products. We will shortly be releasing a new design for kids called Fairies in the Garden, as well as expanding the educational toys offering in our Make & Build category.
“After almost a year of lockdowns and social distancing, I think the mindset of customers has shifted and many priorities have been re-evaluated in light of the pandemic. I can’t see this mindset changing anytime soon, so it seems many trends for 2021 will draw on the events of last year.”
“We believe that by working collaboratively with our traders we can truly achieve something great.”
As an example, last year – at the height of the global crisis – Rex London hit the market with its new brand messaging, Gifts of Random Kindness, tapping into the zeitgeist of mental wellness and the spirit of community as the country and the world found itself united in a fight against Covid-19. It goes without saying that the messaging landed among Rex London’s customers.
In fact, with the pandemic still very much at large and the country still locked-down, children out of school and facing an increased screen time – arguably more so now with this year’s introduction of virtual lessons – Rex London is very much carrying that message forward into the year ahead.
“We’ve always championed non-digital gifts for kids, and we saw a huge trend for that in the market – with the rise in homeschooling and working from home, taking a break form screen time has never been more important, particularly for kids who would normally be in the classroom but are now spending time in digital lessons,” continued Williams.
“Our retro and classic toys are always extremely popular, as with families spending more time together, our adult end customers are getting in on the action, too.”
Of course, central to what Rex London does in the marketplace is its relationship with its network of retailers, and – having recently launched a new Brand Pack and Spring Catalogue to its trade customers – helping this network adapt to current shopping habits is a role that the company takes very seriously.
“The relationships we have with our trade customers are extremely important to us, and we nurture those relationships carefully – we look at each trader as our partner, and we aim to provide them with the best customer experience possible,” said Williams. “It’s why we recently released a Brand Pack to our trade customers, to help them with moving their Rex London products online in response to consumer demands for e-commerce shopping models.
“Our trade customers can access detailed product information and imagery to help build their digital offering. We strongly believe that working collaboratively, both with our traders and with our colleagues internally, we can truly achieve something great.”