Toy co’s go to Hollywood …it’s John Baulch’s Friday Blog (on a Thursday)!

The Blog comes to you on a Thursday this week, as many of us in the toy community won’t be working on Easter Friday. Although, of course, stores will still be open, and retailers will be hoping for an Easter bonanza to get Q2 off to a strong start. I have definitely been detecting more encouraging vibes in recent weeks – sales seem to be picking up and, crucially, it could be argued that Q1 hasn’t been quite as tough as many had predicted.

I think many people had feared the worst for the early part of the year, and the media certainly played its part in causing some companies to (arguably) over-react and put a hold on activity. Thankfully, not everyone chose to batten down the hatches, and as we enter the Easter holidays, there is a feeling that while we are not yet completely out of the woods in terms of economic challenges, brighter days are most definitely ahead.

We’ve announced a raft of promotions and new starters across the UK toy market this week, which is usually a positive sign that companies are feeling optimistic. There have been too many to list everyone individually, but of note were the promotion of Guy Rooney to MD at Pat Avenue, where he succeeds Terry Crew (who will still be involved on a part-time basis), and the appointment of Simon Cartey to the role of commercial director at Toys R Us UK. The press release announcing his new position mentions that the retailer is “continuing to expand its digital footprint and looking to open physical stores in the coming months.” Whether that refers to the launch of concessions in WHSmith branches or standalone outlets isn’t made clear, so we’ll continue to watch that situation with interest.


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