John Lewis expands toy offering at Oxford Street

The retailer opens a new 31,000 square-foot children's area at the London store.
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John Lewis has invested £4 million in its new fourth floor children’s area, branded ‘Fun on Four’.

The new-look department will offer 25 per cent more toys and will look to draw consumers in through a yellow brick road entrance. Inside there is a range of dedicated areas including a Hall of Lego.

Multimedia stations will let customers browse, purchase and learn about the products available. Online catalogues can also be accessed on TV screens throughout the department.

Elaine Hooper, John Lewis’ toys and books buyer, told ToyNews: “We unveiled a new 31,000 square-feet children’s floor in a bid to become the number one children’s destination on Oxford Street. The department has everything to enable us to create a truly multi channel interactive shopping experience.

“Our plan is to roll this out to existing and new estate as the opportunities arise.”

To kick off the new area, John Lewis organised a week of events during the half-term holidays, which included a range of demonstrations from key toy suppliers as well as costume character appearances.

Green Board Games was there to demonstrate its Brainbox range. Sarah Winter, sales manager, told ToyNews: “It was a really busy day, with a really good atmosphere. John Lewis has made the department really interactive, which definitely helps with sales as it drives the kids up there to play with the games and that’s what gets the parents buying.”

Innovation First also attended the event with its Hexbug line. Marketing manager, Heather Corbett, commented: “It was fantastic to get in front of the customer and see the reaction of our target market when they initially play with the product. Demo activity is a vital part of selling our Hexbug product. We always see an increase in sales through demo activity.”

Leapfrog bought new products to Fun on Four. Claire Cattanach, marketing manager, said: “The event was definitely a success for us with a lot of buzz and excitement around the two products we demonstrated – LeapPad Explorer and Tag. We sold out of all products on the day.”

Bandai demonstrators were also present at the store. Vicki Elmer, product manager: "Bandai is fortunate to have two creative brands that lend themselves perfectly to in-store demonstrations, so we we had no hesitation in supporting the opening of John Lewis' sparkling new toy department in Oxford Street during half term.

"Both Harumika and Badge It proved to be very popular activities in the Art & Craft area with children and parents alike and we heard many comments that our products would be ideal for the Christmas present wish list. Young girls were keen to learn how to make fashion outfits and were more than happy to sit down for several minutes at a time to experiment with different fabrics and accessories. There was also great excitement when boys and girls made their own badges and saw how easy Badge It is to use.

"It was an incredibly busy day and our Harumika demonstrator even reported that she emptied the stock room as demand for the fashion range grew as the hours went by."

Rainbow Productions provided the character costumes. “We’re finding that licensors are continuing to support toy retailers by arranging for their licensed characters to interact with shoppers,” said David Scott, MD at the company.

“The presence of characters in-store is one of the most effective promotional tools a toy retailer can have.”

John Lewis’ Hooper added: “Shopping with young children can be challenging at times, so providing entertainment is a great incentive for parents whose young children may otherwise be disinterested in the shopping experience.”

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