Sambro's Nikki Samuels on the firm's biggest year to date

2014 was Sambro’s most successful year to date and, with the company’s current performance, 2015 is shaping up to be even bigger. Rhys Troake finds out why from Sambro managing director Nikki Samuels.
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How has 2015 been for Sambro so far?

The company is going through a massive growth period. 2014 was our best year to date and we have already outperformed last year. So 2015 will most definitely be our biggest year yet.

As well as bringing in more licences and launching new distribution lines, there is a lot going on behind the scenes at Sambro. We have made some great senior appointments as well as recruiting some brilliant new designers.

We are expanding and developing our team to facilitate innovative products and excellent customer service.

Which brands have performed best for the company this year?

Without a doubt, that has to be Minions.

The groundswell of anticipation prior to the film’s launch has been reaching fever pitch all year so product has flown out of our warehouse as soon as it arrived.

I said earlier in the year that not since Frozen have we seen such demand for product ranges and we expect to see this carry on throughout Q4 in the run up to Christmas.

What brands have surprised you this year?

Frozen continues to astound me. Demand for product still remains really high and the Frozen short film reinvigorated its popularity. We will be launching more ranges later this year.

What brands to you expect to do well for Sambro for the rest of 2015?

Of course Minions and Frozen perform consistently well.

As well as licensed ranges, we are also supporting brand new distribution lines with TV advertising from now until Christmas. These TV campaigns will as always be fully supported with PR activity including blogger events, social media campaigns and inclusion in the many media Christmas gift guides.

Our new ranges include Sweet Care Spa, Taste ‘n’ Fun, My Enchanted Mirror and some great games including Lay It or Break It.

How do you choose which brands to work with?

We are privileged to have worked with leading licensing partners for a number of years and working with them has allowed us to develop a keen eye for which brands will be successful.

Extensive TV programming and film releases all help to cement a brand’s popularity even before the first product is launched. So, it’s really then our job to make sure we do that brand justice by creating innovative, high quality product that sells well.

How has Sambro’s attitude to licensing evolved since the birth of the company?

Working with licensed properties is always exciting. We have learnt that in order to maintain popular licences and add more to our portfolio, the key is to innovate and refresh our ranges.

Now we have a dedicated design team who are fantastically creative. This enables us to keep up with the high standards naturally expected by licensors. We have also developed our own tooling so that we can replicate successful products across many licences.

We are now confident that we have become a major player within the licensing industry.

We have consistently performed well in categories such as arts and crafts, stationery and bags. This knowledge and commitment to our licences has meant that we are providing product across more categories than ever before, and that’s including novelty toys, outdoor, wooden puzzles and games.

How has the toy industry’s attitude to licensing changed in this time?

The toy industry realises that licensing is king and that a hot licence isn’t by any means a golden ticket to success.

We as toy companies need to support licences by coming up with a product that encompasses that licence in terms of quality and innovation.

Consumers will not just buy a product simply because it is licensed. Their tastes are now more discerning and that is because we as an industry have created licensed ranges of such high quality.

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