So what have the last 12 months been like for the firm?
It has been fun. A big period of growth for us. We’re the European arm of a phenomenally successful US and Australian cross-platform games business.
We’ve had success in the UK on DVD games developed with Hasbro including Trivial Pursuit Disney, Name That Tune 80s etc, as well as games we sell direct to retail. And we’ve sold hundreds of thousands of Family Fortunes DVD games, which comes to the toy aisle this year.
Tell us about your key new products for this year? When do they launch?
We have 15 new launches this year. The Brain Game DVD game hosted by Noel Edmonds launched in April, our Tetris 3D puzzle in May and the rest follow in autumn/winter. Prices will range from £6.99 to £24.99.
What are the hero items?
Tetris 3D Cube is big news. While there’s nothing new about 3D puzzle cubes, retailers know that brands sell, and Tetris having sold 60 million games helps. We noticed other generic 3D puzzles in the market with very high RRPs. The Tetris 3D cube offers a lower price to the retailers with a mass appeal brand.
The Brain Game DVD game capitalises on the success of handheld brain training games. Our game turns an individual experience into good hearty social fun. Noel Edmonds brings cross-generational appeal. Imagination is offering the first full DVD brain game and the best.
Our Family Fortunes DVD game is a must-list that sold 165,000 units in the DVD aisle last year and the same volume the year before. It comes to toy and game retailers for autumn/winter.
The Mecca Bingo DVD game – Bingo DVD games have been really successful over the last few years. This is a fun version with Ricky Tomlinson hosting and a unique take on bingo (try shouting ‘My Arse’ instead of ‘house’). Mecca Bingo has five million members, so you can be sure there is mass market appeal with this game.
Anything new which you’re trying for the first time?
We have a growing range of board games and 2007’s heroes Backwords and Mind Twist. We’ve always had this part of our business, but people tend to associate us only with DVD games, so I guess it’s news to some people that we sell the traditional range as well.
Also our electronic game Snipe-It is new. We found other electronic games launched in recent years are disappointing – cheap looking with over-complicated gameplay. Our first electronic game has a ‘cooler’ feel to it and gameplay all ages will love.
What are your plans for marketing the range?
It varies by product. The Brain Game and Family Fortunes will be TV-advertised, Mecca Bingo we will cross-promote to 500,000 Mecca Bingo club visitors per week and we’re working on some mass participation events for the fourth quarter. We will also be blessed with Noel Edmonds’ presence on a retail road show, so customers interested in a retail visit should contact our team.
And retail marketing?
Being fast moving and entrepreneurial, we are customer-led instead of offering a one-size-fits-all solution. We work hard to fit the solution to the customer’s needs. We’re open to anything as long as it will help us and the customer sell more games.
How do you feel the games sector is faring at the moment and what sort of share are you targeting within it?
The games business has had a good few years overall, as with all mature businesses it has its challenges, notably driving profitable growth for customers, but it’s still very solid. It’s great to be in the business of delivering fun to consumers, we just have to work hard to ensure our retail partners maximise revenue opportunities.
In terms of market share, we’re targeting market leadership. Over the next two to three years you’ll see Imagination Games climbing the rankings at pace.
What’s the key to success in that sector?
Driving volume and profitability for retail partners, but at the same time delivering a fulfilling experience for the end consumer to make them come back for more.
Any other areas you can move into or is it better to specialise?
At heart we’re an entrepeneurial ideas driven company, so if the opportunity is big enough and we have a good idea, we will make it happen. We have an unparalleled track record of success in new ventures. The key is matching the talent and resources to the size of opportunity from the start, instead of waiting for it to work on its own. We have six or seven major technology driven projects in research and development as we speak.
What about expansion plans?
We opened our German office at the beginning of the year and are currently working on set up in France. The UK team is growing to meet the expanding opportunities we have. Our US business is so buoyant.
We have major financial backing and the appetite is there to invest for growth in the UK, focusing on key long-term retailer relationships. We’ll employ another four or five people in the UK this year, but our focus is on growing the sales line not the overhead, to ensure we continue to deliver value to our customers for the long-term.