While the top ten best selling products of 2012 may have been led by tablets and other higher priced interactive toys, Schleich’s traditional, high quality lower priced lines have been quietly notching up impressive sales for the firm.
And, as UK marketing manager Laura Bull (pictured) tells ToyNews, hopes are high for 2013, too.
“Everyone has to take into account the economic climate, of course, but this tends to leave parents buying what they know and trust, and Schleich certainly falls into this category,” Bull says.
First up in 2013 is the new Knights series, with the firm moving away from the ‘good versus evil’ theme and more towards a fantasy element with Griffin and Dragon knights.
“The two factions are very different and we believe that boys will identify with one group or the other,” Bull says.
The staple Wild Life and Farm Life ranges will also grow (including the introduction of new braided horses), while the firm’s Smurfs line will be extended to tie in with the new movie in the summer.
“The consumer sees Schleich Smurfs as being the original and best collectable for the property, and in celebration of this fact we have introduced new figures before the film release under the theme of ‘occasions’,” Bull explains.
“Then for the film, we have a special Movie collection that includes all the new characters. We will be working with the licensor and Sony to ensure we are part of all the promotions during the key time periods, and we have our own marketing drive with sampling to all sectors of the press, plus activities in the kids press, too.
“Our retailers are all aware of just how popular the Smurfs merchandise became in 2011 and will be keen to ensure they have Schleich Smurfs in stock at all times. Ours is a heritage collectable and there is a core collector base who will want them all.”
Speaking of retail, Bull says that the firm has plans to expand its base.
“Traditional and out of town toy stores are essential to our customer base, but increasing the amount of retail space is very important if we are to grow. There are sectors that we are not fully engaging with at present, but we have some plans in place to resolve this.
“Collectors’ centres and destinations where the consumer can go to get the latest lines are very important too, so identifying those key partners and adding to their support is also part of our strategy. The indie sector is incredibly important – we would not be where we are without them, but we do believe that we are as equally important to them, too.
“We can offer our independent retailers the display packages that make their stores stand out, when often smaller stores are overlooked or not eligible for this sort of deal. We also have great margins and the ability to mix and match selections so that the stores can have variety, and more importantly, what they want.”
After the success it has enjoyed with The Smurfs, another way for Schleich to potentially achieve growth is through the licensed sector.
However, Bull says that while adding more licences isn’t impossible, the property has to be the right one on a quality, brand and global level.
“The team in Germany is always open for opportunities, but it has to be taken into account the extensive tooling time for every Schleich piece,” she says.
“This ensures the quality that the consumer expects and can’t be compromised.”
Bull admits, though, that for Schleich to achieve its aim to be one of the largest figurine manufacturers in the world, it will have to consider expansion into more licences.
It’s clear that Schleich is in a very good place, and has carefully balanced its expectations for growth against the difficult market conditions.
Bull concludes: “Any growth this year would be good for any company such as Schleich, and we do expect to achieve this with the products we are launching and the retailers we are targeting. However, we are aware of the tough market conditions, so will be trying to help retailers as much as possible.”
Want to receive up to the minute toy industry news straight to your inbox? Click here to sign up for the free ToyNews Daily Digest and Newsflash services. You can also follow ToyNews on Twitter and Facebook.