You've got mail (February)

Each month, ToyNews Q&A's one of the top faces from the global toy industry. This month, we speak to the new MD of Leapfrog EMEA, Chris Spalding...
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> How is life at LeapFrog treating you so far?

My first eight weeks at LeapFrog have been exciting. I have joined at a very unique time for the industry (indeed all industries) - in the current economic climate. I also joined during the peak sales period.

One of my main reasons for joining LeapFrog is the fact that it is more than just a toy company. It has a dual approach of ‘learning and play’ which we have demonstrated this season with the launch of our new reading system Tag which brings me on to the second reason for joining - great innovation.

The Tag reading system is one of the most innovative products within the industry at the moment and we are seeing strong sales over the Christmas period in all of the markets I cover within EMEA, which leads me to the people at LeapFrog - a great team and another reason for joining. So in summary my first few weeks have been a great learning path for me, and I am enjoying every moment of it.

> And a steep learning path at that - you joined from a position in publishing didn’t you? What made you decide to move into toys?

Yes I joined from publishing. I have worked in a number of industries including FMCG, leisure and drinks and I love a new challenge. I enjoy learning new things and if I can help a business move forward whilst learning about new markets that creates the best of both worlds - and I believe this role will achieve that.

I am bringing experience from a wide range of roles, in both domestic and international companies. LeapFrog has a terrific reputation and knows where it’s going. All this will help me as I grow LeapFrog's business within the UK and Internationally.

> Toy Fair and Nuremberg are nearly upon us - how has the planning for your first Toy Fair gone and what can we expect to see from Leapfrog at ExCel this year?

We have spent a lot of time developing our stand to highlight our new products for 2009 and how they build upon our strengths. We are very focused on our connected products, like Tag as I mentioned earlier... Watch this space as we have developed a number of innovative new products, which we will be launching this year. LeapFrog leads the way with innovation and this year will be no exception.

> The firm reported some impressive sales figures in 2008, is this growth expected to continue in 2009 with these new products on board?

You're right, we have had good growth in 2008. We will continue to focus on driving sales in 2009, we have a series of new launches, a strong team and we have a few surprises planned too!

> So, any idea of marketing plans for 09 and the new line-up? You used celebrity mum Sinnita for the Tag campaign last year, do you have more of the same in store?

I am still finalising the details of our marketing plans but I am keen to continue the strong campaigns we had in 2008, but to make them work even harder for us in 2009. We have been looking at how we communicate with our consumer and will be reviewing how we invest to gain maximum cut through in 09.

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