With one whole year to wait until the toy industry travels back to the Majestic, we bring you the final part of our Toymaster coverage.
Were exhibitors happy to return to the Majestic? Were buyers wary or did the order books bulge? Does Toymaster provide the best evening entertainment on the event circuit? Our round-up has all the answers and more...
Sarah Winter, sales manager, Green Board Games.
"Business was good at the show and the social networking was fabulous and it was definitely worth attending (especially for the photo opportunities that will be used later…) We will attend again next year and I look forward to next year’s themed events. The quality of customers was good this year, I think the quantity was down from last year. There are pros and cons with both venues. The Majestic had a party / friendly atmosphere whilst the HIC was more businesslike and clinical."
Dominic Geddes, senior director of sales, Mattel UK.
"We found the Toymaster Show very successful, although the retail climate is tough at the moment the energy at the show was very positive and we had a really good response to our ranges. The move to the Majestic worked well and we will continue to support Toymaster. The independent retail sector is a key area of focus for us. We are committed to continuing to develop and improve the way we look after all our retailers."
Will Sharman, head of sales and divisional marketing director, Maps Toys.
"The show was good. Overall we’d give 7.5 out of ten. It was definitely worth attending- we have to be there - especially as a comparatively new supplier. We’ll definitely exhibit again next year. The quality and quantity of the visitors was OK - could always do with more - again because we are quite new and not one of the major brands or suppliers we have to work that much harder to get noticed. I believe the ToyMaster show has a unique atmosphere, which is due in no small part to the whole feel of the Majestic. On the whole I think the show is great as it is. Sometimes the food is a little strange (apart from the 1am bacon rolls) and the bar prices are a bit steep - apart from that and the lack of air conditioning in the carriage room - it was great."
Nick Thomas, Commercial Director, Vivid.
“This year’s Toymaster show was the best show ever where Vivid signed the biggest number of orders! Big brand highlights were Moshi Monsters, Crayola, Little Charley Bear, Everything’s Rosie, Animagic and the new playground craze Fyrflyz. There was a strong turnout of members and a buoyant feel to the business despite recent tough times.”
Jenny Holvey, National Account Executive, HTI.
"HTI were again really pleased with the reaction from Toymaster members at the Harrogate show. This year HTI took more space, offered more brands and more deals, and Toymaster members jumped at the chance to maximize these opportunities. HTI saw more customers than last year including some non Toymaster members and prospective new customers and will definitely be back again next year. The highlights of the show were HTI’s own licensed offer, Megabrand’s offers on Need for Speed, Smurfs and Micro Action Figures, and the introductions of Top Gear Diecast, Fashion Angels Monster High and Barbie products and of course Iball3."
Sam Ireland, operations director, Bigjigs Toys.
"The show was a good one for us. With the Bigjigs Toys and Bigjigs Rail ranges continuing to excel and with the introducing of Gowi, Ambi and Twigz, we are doing our best to continue our tradition of bringing in plenty of new product and offering good levels of service to the independent trade. We will exhibit again next year. The timing is such that we can launch new product and have it in front of the buyers ready for Christmas, without having to wait for January. Toymaster members are always great to deal with at the show. The quantity of visitors this year seems similar to recent years. The Majestic is the spiritual home of Toymaster and so any move away from there is different. The HIC was nice but I think customers were happier back at the Majestic."
Roger Martin, MD, Coiledspring Games.
"The show was very good for us. We appointed a new Irish agent who bought a lot of new customers to our stand. Our pre-show marketing seemed to pay off. We had a lot more new customers visiting our stand and were able to convert those into orders. It was worth attending both for the orders we took and the networking element and we will attend again next year. The quality and quantity of visitors was good. For us, the independents, i.e. those non-Toymaster members, are as important as the Toymaster members.
Thierry Bourret, director, Asobi.
"Asobi joined Toymaster in 2011 so this was our first appearance at the show. Overall exhibiting was a positive experience however it did not result in the level of business we were expecting – we have seen a far greater demand at other toy and gift shows. Those doing well at the show were suppliers with a line in the Toymaster catalogue or a product supported by TV. For new suppliers such as Asobi we were in the difficult stage of not qualifying for the catalogue as we are not yet stocked in 50 Toymaster stores – this meant that many buyers simply passed by the stand without interest. The Majestic is a great venue – it would be even better to be in the conference centre so all companies are on the same floor. The footfall in the Carriage suit was definitely quieter than the marquee. Our range is different than most other suppliers, we specialise in high end toys that are well suited to the independent trade and more often than not independents relish the fact that the range is different and not seen in the large multiples. We will persevere with Toymaster and the possibility of a catalogue listing – we thoroughly enjoyed the evening entertainment also."
Frank Loughlin, Key Account Manager, Ty UK.
“It’s been the Toymaster we’ve ever done, both business wise and account wise. Obviously the economic crisis has been affecting everybody, but we found this year our order quantities went up massively thanks to our new ranges. The Beanie Boo, the Beanie Erazerz and our licensed products have all been very popular. Our biggest problem is not having enough stock. The venue is different to other shows we do - we’re used to the big conference halls. It makes the atmosphere a little more intimate I think, for the independent customers it’s possibly a bit more appropriate for them than a big hall.”
Nicola Bergot, Sales Director, Flair.
“Retail is clearly tough but Toymaster members came to the show with a positive attitude. I would say ‘cautious optimism’ sums up the mood of the buyers attending the show. They were obviously looking for special deals and promotions even more so this year, but the order book appears to be strong. Having low risk products and well proven brands helps. This is our 11th consecutive year at the show and it is an important one in our calendar. We have already committed to next years show. The event is very valuable to us – the independent trade has always been, and continues to be important business to us, and a strong Toymaster group is vital to the success of the independent trade."
Graham Canning, Sales Director, VTech.
“The show is a great opportunity to show the independent trade new and exciting movements and developments in VTech’s expanding range. As always, Toymaster was extremely valuable and the quality of visitors was great. Despite the currently difficult market environment, all the visitors were upbeat and very positive. The stand was busy and the buyers were very enthusiastic about VTech’s new range. The main interest included the InnoTab, Toot Toot Drivers Garage and Vehicles and especially the Kidiminiz range of interactive pets. The buyers attitudes towards the range were very positive and there was a definite buzz around the Kidiminz after an eye-catching launch in the form of a huge 7 feet inflatable Kidiminiz character. As ever, Toymaster showed us great evening entertainment."
Christopher Spalding, SVP & Managing Director EMEA and ASIA, Leapfrog.
"This year’s Toymaster show was a great success for LeapFrog. Our growth of more than 40 per cent last year is clearly supported by the independent trade. As a result, much more orders were placed than last year and independent retailers are becoming an ever bigger part of our business. We received great feedback on our key products like Leapster Explorer and the My Pal Scout range and there was a huge amount of excitement around LeapPad which will be launching this Summer. LeapFrog will definitely be attending next year’s event."
Jeremy Robinson, UK sales manager, Bluw Group.
“The orders were lower than we’d hoped, but as a company breaking in to the Toy arena the support of Toymaster and the branded members has been very important to us. The group’s team has been very supportive of us and our newly launched products. The evening entertainment was very good, plenty of fun had by many until the wee small hours.”
David Allen, sales and marketing director, DKL.
“Another good show from Toymaster for DKL. Considering the independent Retail Sector is having a tough time I can see that traditional product that makes good margin is very important to the Toymaster Retailers. DKL were showing Hama, Corolle, Wonderworld, mic o mic and velcro ranges and we received good orders and as always a great turn out by Toymaster members. Congratulations to Ian and the whole Toymaster team for a very well run professional show and we look forward to next year. The Toymaster show is very important part of our Sales strategy as it allows us to have good discussions with members so we can gauge how the year is progressing and how the feeling is for the all important second half.”