While the likelihood of a summer of Great British staycations is fueling current demand in the outdoor play space, it is the emerging trends in children’s wellness combined and the rediscovery of play within the home and nature, that will help it to a thriving future.
For the outdoor play specialist, Plum Play it’s already an area being tapped directly into, integrating nature into the look, feel, and play pattern of some of its latest product offerings under the Plum Discovery banner, marking a considered lean into the awareness of children’s wellness heightened by the pandemic.
Sales at Plum took a leap forward over the course of 2020, a year that while piling on the pressure for the firm from an operational standpoint, helped deliver to it record sales figures across its outdoor offering, including the trampoline sector that witnessed a 30 per cent year on year growth.
With expectations around a repeat performance this year high – triggered by the increasing likelihood that for many, travel abroad will once again be off the cards this year – Plum Play is gearing itself up for another year of families rediscovering the adventure of their own back gardens.
“The pandemic has been a totally unique situation and has put a huge amount of pressure on the business operationally,” Paul Shaffer, managing director, Plum Play, told ToyNews. “Fortunately, we have seen a strong increase in demand for outdoor items as people desperately look for ways to keep children entertained, outside, and off their parents’ Zoom calls.”
Tapping into the expected demand this year, Plum Play has begun to role out new innovations in the outdoor play space, diversifying its offering for both the UK and global markets. Fueled by not only a surge in worldwide demand, but a recent £4.2 million bank funding, Plum Play has made clear its plans for international expansion over the coming year, having recently entered the US market and announced estimations of a turnover of more than £50 million within the next few years.
At the heart of Plum’s latest portfolio is its desire to ‘become a one stop shop for active play,’ through a product line-up boasting not only its in-house designed units, but distribution on brands like Globber, Injusa, Happy Hop and Lil Monkey. Meanwhile, the Plum Discovery range aims to bring the concepts of play and nature closer together by integrating the two into the designs of its latest line-up of products.
“We always look at different aspects of life to inspire our designs and creations. Everyone wants to keep innovating and pushing growth and we look at new ways and areas to do this,” said Schaffer
“I think it is important to get children into the elements and interacting with the natural surroundings. So much of the world is now digital and so much learning is done with interactions, it is important not to forget that and lose touch with that.
“The toy industry is so important in keeping children’s minds busy and inquisitive in new and fun ways. As children become increasing conscious of ‘real life’ issues, such as the environment and mental health, education and play through learning will continue to adapt to support parents and help to educate inquisitive children.”
While acknowledging that Plum Play is in the business of active, outdoor play 365 days a year, Schaffer has championed the wider toy industry for helping to promote the idea of children’s wellness across its broad spectrum of sectors.
“I think the toy industry is so varied depending on what section of it you are in. We are all about the outdoors and 365 days of active play. Other areas of the toy industry are so important on challenging and entertaining children in new and exciting ways,” he said. “I think the toy industry always rises to the challenge in innovating and keeping the excitement going while adapting to the trends.”
Next on the cards for Plum is to build in the “very exciting position” the firm now finds itself in, as it continued to grow “at a strong pace both domestically and internationally,” said Schaffer.
“There is lots more to come from Plum and it is going to be a very exciting and challenging year.”