Retailers rush to fill Tesco toy gap

Lidl, Waterstones, Sainsbury's, Asda, specialists and more step up after supermarket cuts back on space.
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A host of retailers are filling the void left by Tesco, which said in June it is scaling back on toys and stationery by around a third.

Supermarkets, general retailers, specialists, indies and even garden centres will be upping their toy ranges. At least 200 new stores will be selling toys in the UK by Christmas, according to ToyNews data.

Value supermarket Lidl – recently announced as the destination retailer for Man of Steel – plans to open 35 to 50 stores this year, while Sainsbury’s is excited by “new growth opportunities for general merchandise”.

Asda, meanwhile, has aggressive ambitions to be the UK’s number one destination for kids products (see below).

Elsewhere, The Entertainer aims to open 12 new stores in 2013, while chains including Smyths, Toytown, Morrisons, Debenhams, Hobbycraft and more are also expanding. Even book specialist Waterstones is ramping up its toy offering.

Waterstones’ buyer for games, book accessories, and children’s toys and games, Sally-ann Campbell, told ToyNews: “There’s additional space that we can now use to put in tailored ranges [that match our brand direction] such as book licences. I can see the upside to Tesco not stocking so many toys.”

Meanwhile, The Entertainer’s buying director Stuart Grant said Tesco’s plans to scale back “should drive more sales” in The Entertainer stores.

An anonymous toy buyer from a national retailer added: “It’s about time Tesco realised that decimating toys doesn’t work. The biggest toy retailers are set on price slashing to gain market share. Where does profit come into the equation?”

Buying group AIS/Play-room says it’s even seen an increase in trade from garden centres stocking toys, as have suppliers.

MV Sports sales and marketing director Phil Ratcliffe added: “Since the demise of Woolworths we’ve seen growth in accounts such as Wilkinsons, Dobbies, Go Outdoors, Wyevale etc. Plus, further consolidation in the garden centre sector presents opportunities.”

'We want to be UK's number one kids' retailer'

Asda has outlined its plans to become the strongest retailer of children’s products in the UK – including toys.
“Toys are incredibly importantly to Asda because it’s key to our core customers – families,” Asda’s head of toys Steph Strike told ToyNews. “We want to be the best kids retailer – we are already strong in baby and clothing so toys is a natural fit.”
“We have some great activity coming and this Christmas is set to be our strongest ever programme across all channels.”
Earlier this year Asda said it had replaced a large part of its private label range, after striking a deal with Little Tikes.
“It’s important to us to have credible and exclusive private label as a point of difference, but at the same time brands are of critical importance to mum and kids, so both have an equally strong role to play within the range,” added Strike.

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