Going for gold

There are big plans at Golden Bear as the Olympics licensee heads into 2012. We chat to Barry Hughes, commercial director, to delve a bit deeper.
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Renowned for its pre-school ranges, news of Golden Bear’s deal with London 2012 two years ago was a little out of the ordinary for the firm. But it seems the iconic brand is leading the way in a number of changes for the Shropshire-based company.

Golden Bear is treated as two parts – The Olympics and the rest of the portfolio, as the London 2012 business is such a one-off.

Hughes comments: “The Olympics is going to be massive and we know from speaking to previous mascot suppliers just how big it is likely to be, so I think plenty of retailers are going to be taken by surprise.

“We have had to throw resource at various departments at various times during the whole process and the pressure is now resting on the sales support team as all product development has been completed.”

The other part of the business hasn’t been neglected though. Hughes tells ToyNews: “Our core business has held up very well despite the economic woes and the likes of Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom and My First JCB have proven their longevity by maintaining impressive rates of sale during these hard times.

“It’s no secret that retail is experiencing a tough time and we all feel the pain, but there is probably truth in the old adage that the toy industry weathers the storm better than most.”

Looking forward there are a number of key strategic changes taking place within Golden Bear. Hughes explains: “We are looking to expand our international business and are signing licences on a worldwide basis which allows us to amortise our tooling over greater quantities which in turn allows us to spend more on marketing.”

Golden Bear will also be looking to expand its product lines. Hughes offers: “We are looking at taking lines from international companies rather than just relying on our own development. Of course any ranges we take have to fit in with the Golden Bear core brand values of high quality, safe and fun product.

“We are going to be cash rich in 2012, thanks to the Olympics, and wish to use this cash injection to expand the company and heavily advertise and promote all our ranges.”

The last of the big changes will see expansion into new sectors. Hughes says: “Finally and probably most excitingly, we are moving outside of our pre-school focus. We have established a separate division of Golden Bear, called GB Toys, which will be the part of the business that will carry the older range product.

“While the Golden Bear name has always been extremely well thought of among buyers and end consumers, because of the history of the company, it is synonymous with pre-school and plush hence the decision to establish GB Toys. We are very excited to be previewing the new GB product ranges at Toy Fair.”

Alongside these developments, Golden Bear has signed a host of new licences recently, which will see ranges launching throughout 2012.

Hughes explains: “Our BMW Mini range of pre-school vehicles under the Go Mini brand launches in autumn/winter 2012 and has already received a great reaction from the trade both domestically and internationally. The Go Mini cars have been characterised in much the same way as our highly successful My First JCB range.

“Bananas in Pyjamas also launches in autumn/winter 2012 and we have some fantastic products in both plush and plastic that should support the wonderful programming.

“Poppy Cat is another delightful property in which we have master toy rights and, again, the team have delivered superb product that really captures the essence of the brand and hits shelves in autumn/winter 2012.”

With the core business continuing, along with growth plans in new sectors and territories, not to mention the Olympics finally landing in London, it looks set to be a rather busy year at Golden Bear.



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