The Entertainer plans to open 12 stores in 2012 and is enjoying double-digit growth and collectables are playing a significant part in this success. Pocket money toys now represent around 15 per cent of the business, buying director Stuart Grant has revealed.
Speaking to ToyNews, he said: “I think the reason we are performing so well while the rest of the market is having a tough time is because we are the place to go to for pocket money collectables, and right now that’s what kids are buying.
“Moshi Monsters, for example, is predominantly based around the £1.99 blind bags and £4.99 figure packs and that’s our heartland.
“You don’t drive half an hour to Toys R Us or Argos to spend that kind of money. Those guys are great at the £20 or £30 boxes, but our core market is the lower price point.”
The Entertainer has made itself a destination for sub £10 toys by holding activity and swap shop days, while ensuring its stores are always stocked up with the latest lines.
“It’s really important to us that we are continually on top of the new ranges and new assortments,” Grant explained. “Kids want to come to The Entertainer because we’ve always got the latest fresh new wave, so we become a destination.”
The swap days offer kids – some of which have seen Moshlings banned from their playgrounds – a safe haven to indulge in the trading play pattern of collectables and this, combined with having the latest waves, series and assortments, helps build that all-important loyalty, which ensures further sales.
Grant continued: “We tend to find that once a child starts their collection with us, they will stick with us until the end of the life of the collectable.”
Because The Entertainer does not planogram (making visual plans for long-term product layout) it does not have to commit to lines and has the ability to trial new collectables and considering the amount of blind bags which are about today, that can be vital, Grant said.
“We’re not locked-in like some of our major competitors. We have the ability to give things a punt. If a brand is performing well overall and offers a blind bag then we can be very fast to react, either piling in with big orders or on the flip side, dropping the line and just selling through the initial stock.”
Grant reserved special praise for Moshlings: “What Mind Candy and indeed Vivid have done is create a collectable craze based around a very big brand – which is hard to do.
“I’d imagine in five years time we’ll still be selling Moshlings – whether it’s in a different guise or in blind bags is up for debate.”
All crazes have a limited life span, and Grant believes this will be the case for blind bags: “I think they will come to an end, I think parents will get fed up with buying them.”