Bigjigs has now settled back into the office and catching up after a whistlestop tour of the Toy Fairs in London, Nuremberg, Birmingham and New York.
The show season was “the best ever” for Bigjigs, according to Sam Ireland, operations manager. He enthuses: “London Toy Fair was great, a real credit to the industry as a whole and the BTHA. Spring Fair was good, a shame about the snow on Sunday.”
The firm’s presence at shows across the world mirrors its international growth, which is set to continue.
Ireland reflects on the last year: “2011 was a good year for Bigjigs. We saw good growth from our UK and European offices and the exciting launch of our US operation.”
Bigjigs’ US arm is based in Connecticut with four staff manning the office along with a team of agents who cover the country, dealing with retailers. In the US the firm currently offers a pared down version of the UK portfolio including the Bigjigs Rail range, Heritage Play-sets and Bigjigs Wooden Puzzles.
Looking ahead, there are further plans for expansion. Ireland tells ToyNews: “Our international expansion programme will see another handful of distributors around the world added in 2012 and a widening of our European operations. There are lots of things in store for 2012. New products, as always, are in development for launches in April and September.”
Recent expansions have seen Bigjigs move outside its traditional wooden toy offering to supply a number of plastic lines.
“We now carry Ambi Toys, Gowi and Green Toys. All allow us to add other dimensions to our range that are just not possible in wood. Ambi has some fantastic nursery items. Gowi covers sand and water play superbly and Green Toys has some great role-play, vehicles and food.”
The traditional feel of the company is also seen in its retail base, which is largely made up of independents, a fact which Ireland is proud of and will continue to uphold: “We have always been very loyal to the indies. They have supported us for 20 years and helped us become what we are today.
“We have been approached by multinationals, but we have to make sure that if we do work with them it is not to the detriment of the indies. It’s a fine balance.”
The stockists of the Bigjigs line are set to be supported even further by the company in the coming year with a new marketing plan. Ireland explains: “Traditionally we have done very little marketing; 2012 will see a new approach from Bigjigs. Watch this space.”
With all of this in the pipeline, Ireland’s projections for Bigjigs in ten years’ time seem fully achievable.
“Ten years time…. I would like to see us continuing to do a good job for indies in the UK with an expanded offering, a brand that we are proud of and to keep winning supplier of the year awards.
“If we could replicate in the US and Europe the success that we have had in the UK, that would make me a happy man as well.”