INTERVIEW: Daniel Steel and Ben Hogg, Esdevium Games - ToyNews

INTERVIEW: Daniel Steel and Ben Hogg, Esdevium Games

Since the '70s, board games specialist Esdevium has grown into a diverse supplier of toys, from trading cards to collectables and hobby games – and it’s growing further. Dominic Sacco speaks to MD Daniel Steel and marketing exec Ben Hogg about the firm’s exciting slate of products.
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Esdevium is well-known for its wide range of games, but you’ve widened your product range over the years. How so?

Daniel Steel: In the last ten years we’ve moved into the traditional toy market. We have a range of our own products as well. We’re a diverse business nowadays, with trading cards, board games, mainstream games, collectables, toys, as well as the wider distribution for big UK games companies.

We’re mostly games-focused, but we also offer a wide product range, for example Fisher-Price classic toys – modern versions of classic products like the Chatter Telephone.

What can toy retailers expect from you this year?

Ben Hogg: This year the Disney licensed games are a big focus: the Jake and The Never Land Pirates Who Shook Captain Hook? game and the Disney Princess games including the Dazzling Princess product, a dominoes game and a matching game. We also have titles across licences like Minnie Mouse and Doc McStuffins. 

Steel: We’re also very excited about Pokémon X & Y. Ticket To Ride, Would I Lie To You? and Big Bang Theory games are brilliant. It’s worth mentioning Settlers of Catan. We’ve seen good growth on that.

Esdevium has an interesting background story. Can you sum it up in 60 seconds?

Steel: We started as a retailer in 1976; my parents set it up. They sold war games and hobby stuff at specialist shows in the beginning. They built up a mail order business and after a few years opened a retail premises. I went away and tried to flog insurance on commission. I lasted one week. So I joined Esdevium. We were retail at that point.

After a few years there, we felt there was a gap in market for distributing product. In ‘89 I set up the distribution side of the business and did everything from ordering stock from the US to clearing it through customs, calling retailers and packing boxes myself. Today, we try to move with the market and grow with our customers to find new products for them.

And have you grown over the past year?

Steel: Overall as a firm we’re up slightly on last year, and board games are up too. Staff-wise we’re also up up by about ten per cent over the last two years.

Hogg: The games category was up a few per cent YOY (NPD March 2013). But our games figures are up considerably more than that.

What’s your strategy for licensed products?

Steel: Just because a brand is not massive, that doesn’t mean we won’t do it. We always give the product a chance and let consumers decide whether it’s good. For example, Big Bang Theory is a niche brand and a great game.

It is in some large nationwide retailers and has done very well for them. So we’re not just about big hitters, we’re about getting products to all of our customers. 

What marketing/PR plans and events are planned?

Hogg: We’re advertising both our Jake and the Never Land Pirates and Disney Princess games on targeted pre-school TV channels this year, from autumn up to Christmas.

In terms of consumer events, we were at MCM Expo and UK Games Expo. We don’t sell at these events; we point consumers to stores. For the trade, we will present at Christmas in July and Autumn Fair. We also had more press coverage than ever before this past year.

ABOUT ESDEVIUM

Established: 1976
Staff: Just over 50
Contact: 01420 593593

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