UK retail braced for 'strongest movie line-up in years'

From Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Minions to Bing! and The Clangers, our Retail Advisory Panel believes that strong film and TV licenses will help the industry to another successful year.
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Growing consumer confidence and the ‘strongest movie line-up in years’ will help the toy industry surpass the success of 2014, according to this month’s Retail Advisory Board.

Earmarked by the triumph of Loom Bands and Disney’s Frozen, last year saw overall UK toy sales grow by four per cent, while many of the country’s leading toy retailers confirm ending the year in a ‘very strong position.’

Now, with the likes of Cinderella, Minions, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Star Wars: The Force Awakens scheduled to hit cinemas this year, sales are expected to rise again.

“2015 is going to be a really good year for the trade and The Entertainer in particular,” Stuart Grant, buying director at The Entertainer, told ToyNews.

“We have an incredible movie slate ahead of us, with Big Hero 6 already performing really well. Then we have Avengers, Home and SpongeBob all pre-Easter, followed by Minions and of course Star Wars, which will both be huge.

“The licensing line-up looks really strong, and from a movie perspective, we will have one of our strongest years as an industry. Coupled with the growing return of consumer confidence, I am positive that the industry is going to have a great year.”

Neil Mitchell, toy buyer at Shop Direct, added: “There was a definite air of optimism at Toy Fair this year, and I see no reason why the market should not outperform the four per cent growth achieved in 2014, especially with a constant stream of movies from March to December.”

From online retailers carrying some of the more eclectic collectables, to High Street stores specialising in pre-school lines, the optimism is widespread amongst retailers.

Xbite’s Karla Mitchell and Boots’ buying manager of children’s gift and nursery, Martyn Bradley both share opinions on this year’s licensed toys line-up.

“I think autumn/winter 2015 will be dominated by film and TV licences,” said Bradley. “Obviously, Star Wars and Avengers will top the bill, but we have seen some great new pre-school licenses such as Bing and The Clangers, too.”

“Early predictions will have to be the usual,” added Xbite’s Mitchell.

“LEGO, Star Wars and VTech will all be in the top ten, and film releases will have a very positive impact this year.”

However, not all were bowled over by the selection on offer this year, and despite his positive start to the year,

ToyTown’s Brian Simpson left Toy Fair season feeling underwhelmed with the year’s initial product line-up.

“The only new ranges that are shining at present are Paw Patrol and Big Hero 6,” he said.

“However, there is a lot to come in 2015 and Thunderbirds, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Minions and more will help things pick up naturally.

“We see Shopkins as the new Moshi Monsters, but for me, the most impactful licences will be linked to movies, and Thunderbirds.

“If I were to pick my own Toy of the Year, it would be Tracey Island from the Thunderbirds range,” he concluded.


Disney's Mike Stagg on this year's toy plans for Star Wars and Marvel

For fans the world over, 2015’s release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens made for a monumental moment. Now, with new Marvel releases, a Frozen sequel and more Star Wars to come, Disney promises that the next few years will be no different. Robert Hutchins talks to Mike Stagg, The Walt Disney Company’s vice president and general manager, retail UK and Ireland, about the its plans to top the toy charts this year.

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