When Argos bought Chad Valley from Woolworths back in 2009, the news was overshadowed by the latter’s entry into administration.
But the move turned out to be a smart and prosperous one for the catalogue retailer. It would have its own toy line not available at any other chain.
The £5 million that Argos parent Home Retail Group paid for the pre-school toy brand turned out to be a worthy investment, as Chad Valley helped Argos generate some £430 million in toy sales during 2010/2011, up from £400 million the year prior.
Today it’s the third biggest toy brand in the UK, after Lego and Early Learning Centre, with tens of thousands of likes on Facebook. And Argos wants to expand Chad Valley further with new products and services to help it become the UK’s number one toy retailer.
“Chad Valley makes up a significant percentage of sales and is one of our biggest toy brands,” Argos’ toys trading manager Andrea Abbis tells ToyNews. “It has seen significant growth since launch in July 2009.
“Chad Valley delivers for both parents and children on both a functional and emotional platform.
“For parents the value for money element allows them to continue to treat their children with high quality toys but without the price tag, and for children our ‘high play value’ means they are never disappointed.”
James Heese, Argos’ outgoing trading director for toys, added: “We are excited about the future for Chad Valley and there are significant opportunities ahead, building on our successes in taking the brand into other areas, such as clothing and books.
“Toys are critical to Argos. Our strategy is to be the number one UK and Eire toy retailer.”
Valley of opportunity
Chad Valley has nine categories, from the ‘Let’s Begin’ first toys for tots, to a full outdoor range. Its primary audience is kids under seven years old.
This year Argos has introduced Chad Valley Books and iBooks, a fresh line of children’s play clothing and new Molly & Friends doll and Cool Dudes design-a-bear ranges.
“Chad Valley has something for every young child,” adds Abbis. “[The brand] continues to grow from strength to strength.
“Because of our comprehensive range sales are highly seasonal, during the holidays our outdoor range is king, but during the mad rush at Christmas our pre-school and gender-specific lines dominate.”
Chad Valley isn’t just a recent success. In fact, it is one of the longest-running toy brands in the UK, having originated in the early 19th Century.
Abbis says: “When you don’t have time to shop around or when money is tight, it’s reassuring to have a brand which offers great value toys that are well built and offer lots of fun.”
Argos says the brand focuses on four key benefits: great value, consistent quality, great range and safety. And with toy sales rising, the only way for Chad Valley in years to come is up.
2010/2011 revenues: £430 million
Contact: 0845 640 3030
Chad Valley Playtime has just hit the iPad App Store in the UK and Europe. It includes animated storybooks, jigsaw puzzles, a parent help guide and more. It’s free but an in-app £1.99 content pack is available.
Caroline Jones, Chad Valley’s product manager at Argos, says: “We’re excited to take the Chad Valley brand further into the digital space.”