With toy retailers increasingly looking for ways to broaden their offering and appeal to as wide an audience as possible, Vogue International is confident it has the portfolio to help. “We feel many of our products are a perfect fit in toy departments with the great licences we have,” sales manager, David Pannett, confidently states.
The company specialises in lunch bags and bottles, as well as character lighting and torches, with approximately 90 per cent of its portfolio made up of licensed properties. Out of the 15 licences in its stable, top sellers in 2011 included Minnie Mouse, Disney Princess and Hello Kitty for girls, plus Cars, Toy Story and Spongebob Squarepants for boys. Pannett has already earmarked Spider-man and Mike the Knight for success this year, while he hints that the firm is also looking into licensing a brand from the social media field which it feels will be a key addition to the lunch bag/bottle category.
Pannett admits that the sector is an extremely competitive one and to stand out, you really need to deliver value to the consumer. “There are several competitors, all fighting for limited shelf space,” he tells ToyNews. “Retail prices are constantly being challenged while manufacturing and material costs continue to rise. [To stand out, we look to have] innovative, unique product designs, with eye catching character graphics – allied to punchy, easy to understand packaging and products that deliver outstanding value which has never been more important than in the current economic climate.”
Increasing its distribution into the toy arena is a major focus for Vogue right now, Pannett says.
“We have already made great strides in getting character drinkware, tableware and lighting into many toy areas in accounts such as Toys R Us, Debenhams and Hamleys. Colour changing nightlights, torches and glitter domes often outsell more traditional toys when sited within a toy section.”
Pannett believes that toy retailers will benefit from “great margins and very competitive retails, top performing and often exclusive licences, and a high rate of sale”. He continues: “The nature of our products means most of them tend to sell themselves. On top of this, we have great packaging, swing tag labels and colourful CDU and FSDUs where required.”
As many companies are at the moment, Vogue is facing up to a number of challenges this year and Pannett admits that the market is “so tough” right now.
“Retailers are being extremely cautious in stock levels and order levels, many are reducing space in store, while others are looking for cheap imports or even turning to sourcing products themselves in the Far East,” he explains.
“So margins are being squeezed at both ends – from retailers driving a hard bargain and from continued price inflation in the Far East. We are constantly looking to re-source, negotiate with factories and to develop exciting new products from scratch that can ensure good margin for us and the retailer alike at a price that satisfies the consumer.”
And Pannett has clear aims about where he would like to see Vogue by the end of the year and longer term: “An even greater distribution of all the key product ranges and licences into current and new accounts alike. And, longer term, clear market leaders in character lunch bags, tableware, drinkware, character lighting and room décor,” he concludes.