For many in the UK toy community (and even a few from the international market), this week has largely been all about the Toymaster May show in Harrogate. I am old enough to remember walking the aisles of the show many years ago to (mostly) listen to reps grumbling about the lack of visitors, a dearth of orders or sometimes both. Those days are long gone.
Anticipation has been steadily building since the start of the month, when our May issue flew out of the traps, as retailers started to plan their trip (slightly more useful than a ‘preview’ that didn’t actually land on desks until after the show finished – technically, I guess that makes it a review). Last week, my LinkedIn timeline started to fill up with posts from people enthusiastically looking forward to the show, and this week it’s been full of compliments and plaudits from exhibitors and retail visitors. Safe to say that the event didn’t disappoint – indeed it felt very much back to how things used to be pre-pandemic.
Visitors – tick. Orders – tick. Passion, enthusiasm and (cautious) optimism for the second half – tick. By and large, Toymaster members are in a really good place right now, and the suppliers who have worked out how to align with the indie channel are benefiting from that. Of course, that doesn’t mean every supplier – some ranges are stronger than others, some companies were offering better deals, some had keener and more realistic pricing (several suppliers have even reduced prices, partly as a result of falling freight rates and partly through careful planning on product design, packaging and other factors). Some companies are also better at communicating and marketing to the B2B channel – no surprise that the Toy World team spent much of the week talking to our advertisers, and we didn’t hear any of them complaining. Essentially, a lot of companies worked hard to make the show a success – and they reaped the rewards.