You've got mail (March)

We chat to Steve Buckmaster about shows, awards and what is next for Esdevium games...
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> Firstly, congratulations on the TRA Special Recognition Award. What do you think made Esdevium stand out for the judges?

Thank you, that’s quite a tough one to answer, but I don’t think that it is down to any one thing. We occupy a fairly unique place in the toy trade, we are lucky to work with some great suppliers and also with a wide range of customers. We maintain an active dialogue with all of our independent customers and we have three staff field reps that go and see stores.

We have been pretty successful in taking products that may have at one time been considered on the edges of the toy trade and delivering them to our customers in a way that makes sense for their stores. I would probably sum it up by saying that we offer a lot of things to a lot of people and hopefully we manage to do that quite well. Ultimately though we are a sum of the suppliers and customers that we work with and I would like to thank them all for their support.

> And how did the show season go for you? Are those suppliers and customers still buying or are you now seeing a downturn in trade?

The show season was good, certainly better than we had expected. We felt Spring Fair was impacted by the rather adverse weather, but Toy Fair was a great show. We had a steady flow of traffic throughout, we managed to meet with key buyers from the multiples, as well as a pretty good turnout from the independent sector. We take orders at the show and our order book was about 20 per cent up from last year, which was very encouraging. We met new contacts, opened new accounts, all of the things you would hope for from a trade show.

There is no doubt that trading conditions are tough and I know that we, along with the rest of the trade will be looking at how we plug the gap from the likes of Woolworths, but one of the key things that we took away from the show was the relative optimism from the independent trade. As for a downturn in trade, we have seen the year actually start pretty well, so far our sales have held up and we have some really exciting projects that are coming together for spring/summer.

> Can you give us any sneak previews?

Sorry, no scoops here. It is things that people hopefully will know about. We are really excited to be working on the Chaotic Trading Card Game, it’s been great to work with 4Kids and we believe that it’s a fantastic property with bags of potential.

We also feel that it is going to be a big year for Pokémon and the level of support for the brand and the Trading Card Game will be the biggest for years. But generally there is a lot of interest and momentum behind the cards and collectables category at the moment; new releases for GoGo’s Crazy Bones, Match Attax, Pokémon TCG, Yu-Gi-Oh TCG, as well as new properties like Chaotic TCG, Dinosaur King TCG and Huntix TCG. In addition we are seeing good growth on speciality board games as people look for good value entertainment in the current economic climate. So, lots on.

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