INTERVIEW: Great Gizmos' Judith Dayus

Having added two key brands to its portfolio in the shape of Plan Toys and NCI, as well as the continued success of 4M, Great Gizmos is on track for a stellar 2013. ToyNews speaks to director Judith Dayus to find out more.
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How has 2013 been so far for Great Gizmos?

This year is considerably different from any other in our history, we have added two leading brands to the portfolio – NICI and Plan Toys – allowing us to grow even stronger. The new distributorships have been a major factor in the many new orders and customers creating a strong autumn order book for the second half of the year.

What are this year’s top performers so far?

4M continues to be a firm favourite and popular among buyers who keep coming back for more. Price points across all our ranges are perfect for the current climate and our mixed order facility allows customers to mix and match ranges for a wider variety in store. NICI is performing exceptionally well with new lines being constantly added. Plan Toys has also been very well received – especially items such as the dolls houses or musical toys. It is a very strong brand both with the trade and consumers.

Talk us through the decision to stop exhibiting at Spring Fair and instead invest in in-house showrooms.

Since the toy section at Spring Fair moved, we don’t see the variety of new customers. To make the show worthwhile we need to see a different set of buyers from the ones we see at Toy Fair.
The new hall location does not see the footfall that we had in Hall 5 and where we attracted a broad mix of customers, from tourist attractions to gift shops, these buyers do not seem to venture into Hall 3. We looked at other areas the company wanted to develop and new showrooms have been on the agenda for some time. With such a large portfolio now customers like to be able to spend time with the sales team in a relaxed environment. It has been working really well with the visiting buyers so far.

What big launches can we expect from you this year?

4M has introduced some great new lines including Friendship Bracelets, Woven Bracelets and Charm Bracelets kits. NICI has some exciting collections for autumn including Crocodile and Rhino from Wild Friends and Snow Leopards from the Snow Dreams range. Each includes soft, quality plush toys and gifts such as pencil cases, cushions, mugs and mobile phone holders.
Plan has some great new items on show at Autumn Fair including the limited edition Rainbow Crocodile and Click Clack Tree. New for autumn will be the Fire Engine and the Activity Boat that includes a fab fishing game and little wooden fisherman. Plan Toys are grouped into one of four sub-categories including Plan Pre-school, Plan Dollhouse, Plan Activity and Plan City covering all types of play.

What sectors would you like to move into?

As a family-owned company we can adopt and adapt easily. Taking on new challenges is always on the agenda. We visit international trade fairs and look for ranges that would fit into our portfolio.

What challenges have you faced over the past 18 months?

The current climate has impacted on trade for everyone so we’ve kept a tight rein on every aspect of the business. We have been more careful budgeting and more selective with our consumer advertising, moving into social media.
We have invested a lot into Plan Toys and NICI, as well as our new sales team. We just have to make sure we spend wisely to make the most impact in the areas required.

What is the secret to Great Gizmos success?

Communication with our buyers, a friendly sales team and most important a variety of products. We pride ourselves on our customer service and the fact that we cater for small stores, as well as the larger chains and multiples.

How has the toy business changed over the years?

Children still love playing with traditional toys and while this continues we will endeavour to source and supply traditional toys and gifts.
Technology has become prevalent in what was once a very traditional industry. Many products are now compatible with Android or iOS or require the latest tablet in order to enjoy. At the moment this market is not for us. Customers are much more cautious these days, only buying as and when they need to.

What would Great Gizmos like to achieve by the end of 2013?

We’re very happy with our performance year to date and if we can keep doing more of the same, we will be more than satisfied with the outcome and consider where we want to be for 2014.

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