John Baulch’s Friday Blog, The Toy Industry From a British Perspective

I am very pleased to announce that we will run John Baulch’s “Friday Blog” on a weekly basis. John Baulch, the Publisher of Toy World, is an outstanding source of knowledge and wit about the British toy industry. His blog is a great read. So great, that we wanted to share it with you.

John has worked in the toy industry on several trade magazines over the past 40 years, culminating in the launch of his own publication – Toy World – 11 years ago. John writes the popular Friday Blog, which is posted on the Toy World website every Friday, and he is also a member of the Spielwarenmesse Trend Committee.

Toy World is the leading B2B magazine and website for the UK toy community. The print issue of Toy World is published every month, while the website is updated daily – both the magazine and the website feature the latest news, views, analysis and opinion from across the toy market.

A few interesting nuggets about the impending Toys R Us UK launch have emerged this week. According to what we in the media like to call ‘multiple sources’, the original intention was apparently to launch the website in June. However, according to an official statement issued by Louis Mittoni to the Australian Stock Exchange, “we experienced disruptions to equipment availability in the UK that have delayed operations.” In an email he sent to me earlier this week, Louis indicated that delays caused by customs were to blame, which is certainly plausible (I’ll return to that point later).

In the same official statement to the ASE, it was reported that Toys R Us ANZ had secured a loan facility of A$15m to support the company’s entry into the UK market. The loan was described as supporting “working capital and capital expenditure requirements, including the acquisition of inventory.” Perhaps this was actually the driving factor behind the delay? You need hard cash to buy stock in this climate – I would imagine many suppliers are nervous about offering extended credit facilities to new accounts, even ones with iconic names.

Either way, the launch date is now scheduled for the end of August / early September, which may ultimately prove to be better timing than the start of summer– arriving just as things start to hot up for Christmas. It sounds like the person who tipped me off about a second Amazon Prime Day in October was right (I’ve now heard it from numerous sources), so I think we are going to see a lively and competitive festive trading period this year, both on and offline.

Let’s hope there aren’t too many curveballs before then – such as the story about 92% of workers at Felixstowe voting for strike action in a dispute over pay. Nobody needs any further supply chain disruption right now; I think I can speak for every toy retailer and supplier when I say, politely and with the greatest of respect, NOT NOW FELIXSTOWE!

It’s not just container ports where it is all kicking off – this week saw Roblox sue WowWee over an alleged infringement of its trademark ‘block’ figures by the toy company’s new doll range My Avastars. WowWee have strenuously denied the allegation and has vowed to vigorously defend its position. We’ll keep you posted on further developments.


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