Progressive Preschool March/April 2021

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The B2B Publication For Preschool Products and Retailers

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APRIL 2021

THIS MONTH Follow us at:


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@Prog_Preschool is the new online resource for the preschool product and retail sector. From the publishers of Progressive Preschool Magazine and the organisers of the Progressive Preschool Awards, this Above: Returnwebsite to retail… spring 2021 e-newsflash portal will new and provideriting the this very latest news, views, and spirit that independent retailers following analysisthe across the preschool product of all kinds possess has allowed long Easter them to pivot into channels some weekend, there’s a and retail sector. had not previously explored this sense of optimism


Max Publishing Ltd, United House, PreschoRoad, isLondon the new online N7 9DP North resource for the preschool product and retail sector. From the publishers of Progressive T: 020 7700 6740 F: 020 7607 6411 Preschool Magazine and the organisers of the Progressive Preschool Awards, this new website and e-newsflash portal will provide the very latest news, views, and analysis across the preschool product

Copyright 2021. Whilst every effort has been made and retail sector. to ensure the information in this magazine was Launching with an unrivalled email subscriber a correct atbase theof 12,087 timereaders, of going to press, the publishers twice weekly newsflash will land cannot legal liability for any errors or directlyaccept in the inboxes of everyone in this fast-paced industry. omissions, nor can they accept responsibility for A modern, easy to navigate will provide central the website standing of aadvertisers nor any organisation resource for the trade too, offering mentioned inarticles, theantext. news, in-depth industryViews of contributors do not jobs board, retail analysis, digital issues of necessarily reflect those of the publishers. Progressive Preschool, and much much more. All advertising on the website is

ISSN 2515-8570

The magazine and awards do a great job in joining the dots between toy, nursery, gift, apparel, publishing, and of course licensing and this digital offering will further enhance our position as a trade media partner that offers a tangible response to advertising investment.

duplicated to each and every newsflash, giving advertisers huge visibility and direct impact to retail buyers. is published by preschool sector experts, for preschool trade experts.

utilising social media to keep in touch with their customers during lockdown – all of which means they is published by preschool sector experts… have a number of different strings time last year, enabling them to and strengths to their bow to in the air. Prime Minister Boris make something complement their stores. It will be Johnson has confirmed that Launching with an unrivalled email of the situation they found themselves in. interesting to see how the omninon-essential retail will re-open base of 12,087 readers, a founder of The Frances Bishop, channel approach further takes shape on 12subscriber April after a long winter Pud Store, throughout the rest of the year. of restrictions – in some towns twice weekly newsflash will landcertainly epitomises this entrepreneurial drive, rounding off As one toy supplier told us, so and cities, bricks and mortar directly inshuttered the inboxes of12everyone months of a global pandemic often in business when your back stores have been with a huge acquisition of Precious is up against the wall, it makes sincein mid-December 2020. industry. this fast-paced Little One which further shores you focus your efforts to find a All of which means that this easy navigate up her business and opens up solution and get through those ‘backA to modern, business (part two)’to issue new avenues. Find out how tough times. Something we can of Progressive Preschool is very website will provide a central she did it on pages 24-25. all relate to after the past year. well timed as, by the time you read resource forretailers the trade too, Likewise, offering a fortuitous decision As for PPS, you’ll notice a few this, toy and nursery will to set up a small online presence tweaks and additions in this issue be among those back open and, news, in-depth articles, an industry on in – of which the aforementioned hopefully, dealing with pent up jobs board, retail analysis, digitalApril issues of ended 2019, has industry roundtable on pages 20-23 demand from consumers looking up paying dividends just one – while entries are now for that all-important in-person Progressive Preschool, and much much more.for Allis advertising on the website is Amanda Alexander of open on the Progressive Preschool shopping experience once again. to each and indie toy retailer, Giddy duplicated Awards 2021 (find out more on every Speaking to some key toy Goat Toys. It was a page 9) which will be held at the industry executives for this The magazine and awards do a great job in newsflash, giving advertisers decision, she says, Grosvenor House Hotel on Thursday issue, they were full of praise joining the dots between toy, nursery, gift, huge visibility and direct impact that ultimately 11 November. We’re looking forward for how high street retailers saved her business. to celebrating all of those efforts had adapted and coped apparel, publishing, and of course licensing to retail buyers. There are made across the board by the over the past year since and this digital offering will further enhance countless other preschool industry with you all. the pandemic began. stories of Toymaster The entrepreneurial our position as a trade media partner that is published members setting up The Progressive Right: New product offers a tangible response to advertising by preschool sector experts, for websites, offering innovation has remained Preschool Team key during lockdown, as click and collect, Samantha Loveday, Willis, investment. preschool tradeRob experts. several toy suppliers have local deliveries and Jo Pilcher and Katie Roberts-Mason. confirmed in this issue. ADVERTISING AND COMMERCIAL:


Jo Pilcher

Jacqui Parr

Rob Willis

Sam Loveday

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Meet The Team

Rob Willis

54 Samantha Loveday



ector Focus: 06 News 35 STravel & Holiday The latest updates from across the preschool industry Focus: Trudi 42 Range GfK How GP Flair is further raising 13 How the pandemic has awareness of the classic impacted on the baby market

Insights 15 Parents What are the most essential gifts for expectant parents?

Columnist 19 Guest Farshore on the health of the

soft toy brand in the UK

ector Focus: 45 SOutdoor Play Profile 51 Executive Adrian Sneyd from Harrogate International Nursery Fair in the hotseat

preschool publishing category


Industry Roundtable Five senior toy industry executives discuss some of the key issues of the moment

he Big Interview: 24 TThe Pud Store

ow founder Frances Bishop H rounded off 12 months of a global pandemic with a huge acquisition


What’s hot in

licensed apparel?

Jo Pilcher


The Big Interview:

Ickle Bubba

Katie Roberts-Mason

anaging director Fran M Vaughan shares the company’s journey so far

Focus: Home 54 S&ector Lifestyle ector Focus: 63 SImaginative Play etailer in Numbers: 75 RThe Leveret, Amersham

Gary Freeman

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builds, it will be interesting to see how the pattern of sales shift.” Sam Ireland, operations director at Bigjigs, also believes that Brexit has provided an opportunity in the UK, with new avenues opening up for some companies. “Some host of senior “We are very fortunate that ours suppliers that are based in the EU toy industry is an industry that has traditionally have chosen not to ship into the UK executives are survived recession as well as the any more, or if they are then terms confident that the huge recent challenges brought have changed to such a degree that UK business can enjoy another about by Covid,” commented Mary retailers will not buy from them. year of growth in 2021. Wood, general manager UK & This has certainly opened up some Despite the immediate challenges Ireland at TOMY. “At the moment, avenues for our ranges,” he of the continued uncertainty The pent-up savings in commented. “There are also of the Covid-19 pandemic, a number of new businesses as well as rising freight costs, the economy and less options that have opened during increasing factory costs and to spend monies abroad will the past 12 months who the logistics of dealing with the are approaching things a bit EU following Brexit for those in mean that staycation funds differently and having some export, executives from Golden will be there for this year. really good responses.” Bear, Bigjigs, TOMY, Bandai Meanwhile, Jerry Healy, group and Character Options believe the industry is seeing a growth in marketing director at Character there are plenty of opportunities value but a decline in volume, so as for the UK market to grow. stores open and playground chatter Options, says that the toy industry

‘Toy industry can enjoy growth in 2021’


Show calendar shapes up The ongoing pandemic continues to result in changes to the trade show calendar for 2021. Spielwarenmesse recently confirmed that the summer edition of the show would not take place in July as originally planned, due to what it described as the ‘unrelenting uncertainty’ surrounding the pandemic. Instead, focus now turns to the 2022 edition, which has been dated for 2-6 February. Toymaster’s annual May show will also not be running this year. The buying group had canvassed members and suppliers on a potential alternative date at the end of August, however, many were still reluctant to commit at this stage. The show will return to The Majestic Hotel in Harrogate from 17-19 May, 2022. The Harrogate International Nursery Fair, meanwhile, has moved

its dates to 17-19 October 2021, garnering positive feedback from both exhibitors and visitors. The Independent Toy & Gift Show, hosted by Play-room, has also moved from its traditional April slot

Above: The July summer edition of Spielwarenmesse has been cancelled, with the focus turning to the 2022 show.

to 14-15 September 2021. Kind + Jugend is also scheduled to run in Cologne from 9-11 September 2021.

For the latest news visit

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KEEPING YOU UP TO DATE WITH THE LATEST STORIES is in a far better place now than it was during the initial stages of the pandemic. Asked whether the UK toy industry can enjoy another year of growth, he said: “I certainly think it can. The pent-up savings in the economy and less options to spend monies abroad

will mean that staycation funds will be there for this year.” Read more from Mary, Sam and Jerry, plus Bandai UK’s Nic Aldridge and Golden Bear’s Barry Hughes in a special industry roundtable on pages 18-21.

Inset: The new limited edition aqua FastFold is available as a bundle offer from £395 as part of the campaign.

Micralite helps Britain get travel ready

From left: Mary Wood, general manager UK & Ireland, TOMY; Sam Ireland, operations director, Bigjigs; and Jerry Healy, group marketing director, Character Options.

The Pud Store readies own-brand collection Following the successful acquisition of Precious Little One, The Pud Store is planning to launch its first ever, branded, scandi-inspired kidswear range. Set to launch in mid-July 2021, the new collection will feature over 100 affordable styles for children between the ages of newborn up to age 10. The range will cater for new babies, toddlers and junior kids of all genders. While most of the designs are contemporary and Scandi-inspired, The Pud collection will feature a few heritage items, some of which are matching siblings outfits. Prices will range from £7 for a set of hat and mittens, to £32 for a denim jacket. Frances Bishop, founder of The Pud Store, commented: “Bringing a Pud range to life has been a dream for the past six years, and I don’t think it’s quite sunk in yet that it’s actually

happening… even as we placed the purchase orders. “I’m so excited for the range to launch, and I really think we’ve captured something special which the market is missing – a wellcurated range which is stylish, practical but affordable.”

Above: The own-brand collection has been a dream for owner Frances Bishop for six years.

Micralite is readying British parents for the lifting of travel bans with its new Get Travel Ready campaign. The promotion currently has no end date and will run until the travel ban in the UK is lifted. The company has applied a range of discounts to its key travel lines, including £120 off the GetGo travel system, £150 off the Profold Compact Stroller, and a special bundle price on the FastFold weatherproof stroller. The offer also extends to Micralite’s travel cots, and the bundles available with the Sleep&Go, and Sleep&Go Lite are currently £50 off the RRP, and include the cot itself with a twin-pack of essential sheets. Riccardo Baldoni, head of customer experience at Micralite, said: “We’re all raring to go when lockdown lifts and with our products, nowhere's off limits. We have a pram for every adventure, be it a forest trek, trip to the beach or city stroll. Then there’s our award-winning Sleep&Go travel cot that’s perfect for holidays and weekends away - or just a stay at the grandparents. “We’re all about making family life easier, more fun and more adventurous at Micralite – with products that don’t let you down. There are currently some great offers across the range.”

For the latest news visit

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Progressive Preschool Awards 2021 open for entries


he Progressive Preschool Awards 2021 are now open for entries, with the entry and judging process once again taking place online. A dedicated online portal - www. - is now ready to receive entries across the Retail, Product, Marketing & Communications, Wholesaler/ Distributor and Outstanding Achievement categories. All product categories will be judged by an extensive panel of retailers, while the retailer and marketing award categories will be assessed by a panel of industry experts, all making their decisions from the comfort of their own homes, shop floors or offices. The deadline for entering the product categories is Friday 30 July 2021. For the special awards – including

Right: This year’s awards are now open for entry.

Best Distributor, Marketing and Outstanding Achievement – entries are open until Friday 6 August 2021. The Retail categories, meanwhile (both nomination and self nomination), are open until Friday 13 August 2021. Entries remain completely free of charge and can be updated and amended right up until the closing date. The decision to keep both the entries and judging online for another year was taken after it successfully allowed for an increased number of entries for 2020’s awards, plus an even wider judging panel than usual.

This included buyers from Tesco, John Lewis, Bentalls, Toymaster, The Entertainer, plus specialist independent stores. After last year’s event was hosted virtually due to the pandemic, the PPS Awards 2021 will return as an in-person event, taking place at the Grosvenor House Hotel on the afternoon of Thursday 11 November.

Bigjigs unveils major packaging rebrand Bigjigs has launched a rebrand across mind. Compliance warnings, cleaning instructions all of its packaging, modernising and and recycling advice can also be found on the base or updating the company’s brand assets, as back of the packaging. The company has also added well as providing retailers with a number a personal touch to the boxes, the Bigjigs Story. of useful selling tips and information. More than 80% of Bigjigs’ packaging originates from The rebrand is more visual, with the modular box 95% recycled cardboard and is printed using soy inks. sizes (with multiple orientation panels) allowing many The new design will be rolling out through the options for merchandising. year, starting with Bigjigs’ new 2021 product range. Updated development “We're delighted to be rolling out the culmination icons are featured on of a considerable amount the packaging to give of work that has continued parents guidance as to throughout a prolonged what skills can be learned period of working at home,” and developed while their said md Liz Ireland. “We're child plays with each toy. eager to get the new In addition, the boxes boxes onto the shelves and include safety flashes to promote the modernised give consumers quality design across all marketing Above: The new packaging is more visual with the modular assurance and peace of platforms as quickly as we can.” box sizes allowing many options for merchandising.

For the latest news visit

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“We’ve really missed sharing our knowledge”


ursery retailers shared their feelings of optimism, nervousness and caution with PPS as they prepared to reopen their doors after the third UK lockdown earlier this month. Most nursery retailers have spent most of the last year surviving solely on e-commerce sales, and have had to reinvent their businesses in order to survive the restrictions. But physical stores are key for so many in the nursery industry, as Karen Bridle, owner of BabyB in Waterlooville, explained: “It’s so important for expecting parents to have guidance and advice on car seat fitting, prams and safe sleeping. We have really missed sharing our knowledge and offering

exceptional customer service instore here at BabyB.” And while many were excited at the prospect of reopening, there were also some nerves. Julie Logan, owner of The Olive Branch in Castle Donington, commented: “There’s definitely some fresh optimism in the air. “We’ve had everything off the shelves for a good clean and turn around. We’ve created new zones and displays in the shop and bought in new products. But please do be patient with the butterflies in my tummy as I try not to get my tongue in a knot and to remember where I left the spare Sellotape.” There is also some caution surrounding the gradual return to normality. Simon Wilson, owner of Piccola in Brentwood, said: “If previous lockdowns are anything to

go by we'd expect a strong opening week, but it's after this that will be the real indicator of how well we'll be able to bounce back. “Landlords still expected to be paid while our retail outlets had zero turnover, and we are exposed as a business more than at any time in our history. Add this to the loss of the five shops on our high street that have either closed or are looking for someone to take over their lease - including major high street names - and we'd be more pessimistic than optimistic about prospects for the rest of the year.”

Cybex opens exclusive space in Glasgow 10,000km for Kelvyn underway Licensing industry charity The Light Fund has Pram Centre Global baby brand, Cybex has launched an exclusive new retail space in Glasgow Pram Centre to build on its existing relationship with the family-run retailer. Above: The retail space further strengthens the relationship between The six-figure refurbishment the two companies. showcases the Platinum and Gold collections and incorporates three areas highlighting strollers, car seats and fashion designs. Also incorporated in the space are relaxing consultation areas, where parents will be able to access expert advice and try out the various products on offer. Luke Burns, UK GM at Cybex, commented: “We’re thrilled to be launching our Cybex space at Glasgow Pram Centre, strengthening our long-standing relationship with the store. It’s a wise investment for our brand to have this dedicated high street presence.” The Glasgow Pram Centre has also undergone a complete transformation during lockdown, with a newly refurbished showroom and specialist car seat fitting centre.

embarked on an initiative in memory of the late Kelvyn Gardner – encouraging everyone to come together and cover 10,000km throughout April. Kelvyn – who was a long-standing trustee for The Light Fund – passed away suddenly in January. The licensing community – along with their friends and colleagues in the toy and nursery space - is being asked for their help to meet the target, with the cumulative effort being tracked via Strava. A range of special merchandise has been created and is available from All profits from the sale of the merchandise – which includes tees, hoodies, mugs and pet accessories – will go to The Light Fund.

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GfK’s insight director, Helen Collins takes a look at how over a year of restrictions due to the pandemic has impacted on the baby market.



ovid restrictions have certainly had an impact on the baby market tracked at GfK. Value is down 28% in the last 12 months, compared to just -5% in the previous 12 months. The largest declines come from the two most premium segments: Strollers (-50%) and Car Seats (-28%); both categories hit strongly from the ‘Stay at home’ rules, while other sectors such as teethers, feeding, high chairs and monitors all grew year on year. Non-essential shop closures have meant an acceleration in the shift towards online sales. In 2016, 31% of Baby Care value went through online transactions. This slowly increased to 40% in 2019, but Covid restrictions saw online sales rocket to just shy of two thirds value (64%) in the last 12 months. We expect the total market online share to be larger than this still as manufacturer’s direct sales are not included within the GfK figures. We predict in-store sales to regain some of this share loss when nonessential shops re-open, but we don’t expect online sales to fall back to 40% as consumers have changed their shopping habits. Working from home is expected to continue to some level for a lot of the GB population, meaning that factors such as home delivery isn’t such a problem. In the last 12 months, the car seat market excluding base has declined 29% in value and 31% in volume, while average price has remained fairly stable at £82. Similarly to the total babycare market, online sales have seen some growth, up 5% compared to in-store decline of -56%.

TAKE A SEAT Car seats is split into four main segments: Booster seat, Convertible seat (has a removable backrest so can be used as a booster), High back seat (no integrated harness, the adult seatbelt holds child) and Seat with fixed harness (typical baby seat with own harness). The Seat with fixed harness market is the largest in value at 59% and most premium with an average price tag of £119 but shows the steepest value declines, down 34%. High back seats is the second largest segment at 34%, priced at £75 and declines just 21% year on year. The cheapest segment is booster seats with a £15 average price tag, accounting for 4% value but 19% volume. Boosters are only approved for children weighing more than 22kg or taller than 125cm, in the last 12 months only 11% are ISOFIX compatible. Following ECE R-44 Regulations, car seats are classified into groups which are based on the child’s weight and can be used for both

seat belt or ISOFIX seats. Within the fixed seat harness market, the largest group with 44% market value is Group 0+/1 suitable for a child at 0-18kg and has the largest average price tag at £189. Second is Group 0+, suitable for a child at 0-13kg, has 27% market share and comes with a price tag of £140. With this second option parents need to upgrade their child seat to a larger group within the first two years of the child’s life. Following from these first seats, the most popular choices are high back seats which use the adult seat belt within Group 1/2/3 (9-36kg) with an average price of £87 and Group 2/3 (15-36kg) priced at £66, both are suitable for children up to the age of around 12 years and will be the final car seat. 2021 will be an interesting year as Covid restrictions are eased and consumers find their new ‘normal’, potentially with different levels of disposable income in comparison to pre-Covid levels which will drive new trends in shopping habits.

Total Baby Care value falls back sharply over the year, led by the transport categories, as sales shift online during lockdown Great Britain – Baby Care Value growth %: MAT Feb 21 vs. previous year** -28%

Online share of market value


Total Baby Care





Breast feeding


Bottle Warm/Steri






2016 2019 MAT 2021





-11% -28% -50%

Value % of Car Seats – MAT Feb 21 4%

34% 59%

Tableware Car Seat Strollers

GfK GB PoS Data. All figures in value GBP. **March 2020 – February 2021 vs. March 2019 – February 2020 *Baby Care tracked categories: Car Seats, Highchairs, Stollers, Monitors, Bottles & Teats, Soothers, Teethers, Baby Tableware, Bottle Warmers & Sterilisers and Breast Feeding.

Fixed Harness



Booster © GfK

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Coming Soon!

We're Going On A Bear Hunt © Bear Hunt Films Ltd. 2016

Super Cuddly!

A fun new toy range

tactile and playful

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RESEARCH Left: Nick Richardson, ceo and founder, The Insights Family.


The latest Parents Insights UK report shows the most popular baby shower presents for new parents.


rands and retailers should keep in mind that sustainability is now one of the biggest factors parents consider when purchasing products and gifts. Nearly a third of all parents (32%) believe that taking care of the environment is an important value to instil in their children, with this figure peaking among Gen X (currently between 41-56 years old) at 34%, and those who are expecting (30%). Concern for this issue is not solely present in the UK. In January 2021 we began surveying 176,800 parents across 17 different regions. This new data shows that over 1 in 5 parents globally consider the environment to be their most pressing concern. Additionally, at least 37% of parents globally report that they would be willing to spend more on products which are environmentally sustainable. Gen Z parents with children aged 0-6 months are most likely to get a baby bath (12%), changing bags (10%), car seat (9%), cot (9%) and Moses basket (9%) as gifts.

As first-time parents may lack experience in preparing these products for their young children, their families or friends may send these gifts to support these parents. Our data shows friends and family remain the most used sources of information, even in an increasingly digital world. This highlights a brand opportunity to appeal to the wider peer circle of parents’ friends and family, going beyond the usual buying process and helping friends of new parents to aid with their children in the form of necessary items such as car seats or changing bags. Expectant parents are most likely to receive Moses baskets (9%) as a gift while parents with children aged 0-6 months are most likely to receive a baby bath as a gift (15%). The latter parent groups are more likely to trust brands such as Aldi Mamia (+123%), Asda (+260%) and Aldi (+125%) than average. This suggests how brands could increase their sales opportunities with these parents by creating more gift sets including these items.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU…? Social media is an ideal platform to reach consumer parents. Under 25s have become more likely to be influenced by well-known bloggers (+43%) during their buying process over the last three months, suggesting influencers as a vital part in reaching a parental audience. Over the past year, although family and friends remain the most popular source of information, parents have demonstrated greater preference towards social media networks such as Instagram (+6%). This platform is most popular among Millennial parents, while also gaining popularity with a more mature audience aged 40-44 (+9%). While mums are most inclined to turn to friends and family for information, websites are the most used source for dads (35%). Brands should be aware of this difference to adjust their marketing strategies. For example, to target mums, social media campaigns should be the focus, while Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) should be the priority when targeting dads. This shows how in an everchanging landscape, brands need to understand which digital platforms their audiences and consumers are using. The Insights Family team of researchers, data scientists and developers have created the latest version of our platform, Portal 4.0, which will open more possibilities for brands. The new tools will enable brands to understand the attitudes, behaviours and consumption patterns of kids, parents, and families. Inside Portal 4 will be new data from Parents Insights, from surveying 176,800 parents of kids between the age of 1 and 16 in 17 countries. To learn more about the attitudes, behaviour and consumption patterns of kids, parents and families, and to get freemium access to the Insights Family real-time data portal, please visit: theinsightsfamily. com/progressivepreschool.

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© 2019 Rovio Entertainment Corporation and Rovio Animation Ltd. Rovio, All Angry Birds logos and characters are trademarks of Rovio Entertainment Corporation and Rovio Animation Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Avengers © 2019 Marvel. Baby Shark © Smart Study Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Pinkfong® Baby Shark™ is a licensed trademark of Smart Study Co., Ltd. Captain Marvel © 2019 Marvel. Dumbo © 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. Fingerlings® and all product names, designations and logos are trademarks of WowWee Group Limited. Copyright 2016-2019 WowWee Group Limited. All rights reserved. LEGO, the LEGO logo, the Brick and Knob configurations and the Minifigure are trademarks of the LEGO Group. ©2019 The LEGO Group. The Lion King © 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. © MGA Entertainment, Inc. L.O.L. SURPRISE! TM is a trademark of MGA in the U.S. and other Countries. All logos, names, characters, likenesses, images, slogans and packaging appearance are the property of MGA. Mary Poppins Returns © 2018 Disney Enterprises, Inc. Match Attax © TOPPS Europe Limited, 2019. All rights reserved. © 2019 Viacom International Inc. All Rights Reserved. NICKELODEON, NELLA THE PRINCESS KNIGHT are trademarks of Viacom International Inc. © 2019 Spin Master PAW Productions Inc. All Rights Reserved. PAW Patrol and all related titles, logos and characters are trademarks of Spin Master Ltd. Nickelodeon and all related titles and logos are trademarks of Viacom International Inc. Shimmer and Shine © 2019 All Rights Reserved. Nickelodeon, trademark of Viacom International Inc. Spies in Disguise™ and © 2019 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved. Property of Fox. Spider-Man Into The Spider-Verse © 2018 Marvel © 2018 SPA & CPII. © 2019 Super Wings™ All Rights Reserved. The Nutcracker And The Four Realms © 2018 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Secret Life of Pets is a trademark and copyright of Universal Studios. Licensed by Universal Studios Licensing LLC. All rights reserved. DreamWorks Trolls © 2018 DreamWorks Animation LLC. All Rights Reserved. TM & © 2019 Ugly Industries Holdings, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Wonder Park TM & © 2019 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

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ark © Smart ademarks of ing © 2019 ary Poppins onal Inc. er and Shine 018 SPA & ensing LLC.

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Centum Books 20 Devon Square, Newton Abbot, Devon, TQ12 2HR, UK. Office: +44 (0)1626 337736 • Fax: +44 (0)1626 334580 •

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Senior commissioning editor, Emily Lamm and publisher, Jane Riordan from Farshore – an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers – tell PPS how the preschool publishing sector has fared over the past year and where future growth opportunities can be found.



any of us have spent the last year hungry to be wandering around a bookshop again. Browsing aisles of books, reaching out to touch textured covers and pulling satisfying novelty mechanisms was just a memory. With many stores closed over lockdown, sales of new preschool titles were among the casualties. Titles designed with tabletops and shop windows in mind struggled to gain traction online. But it’s not all doom and gloom. The overall children’s book market has had a strong year. With volume sales up 12% year on year, the three-year trend of declining volume sales has been reversed. Even more surprisingly, value sales are also up 12% year on year, coming off the back of three years of flat sales. This growth has been primarily driven by backlist sales rather than new titles, with frontlist sales down 4% by volume and backlist sales up 13% by volume. The events of the past year have certainly

meant the challenge of discovery has grown even more acute, but it is perhaps also the case that readers have been turning to known authors and old favourites, like Spot and Winnie-the-Pooh, as a form of comfort in difficult times. Well-loved authors and illustrators have managed to let the world know about brand new titles. Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s The Smeds and the Smoos was the highest selling picture book by value in 2020. And Julia Donaldson’s backlist, including Night Monkey, Day Monkey, continued to perform excellently. The highest selling title by volume was the Supertato World Book Day book. Yes, it was a year where we learnt that it takes more than school and nursery closures to cancel World Book Day! Other lockdown successes included The Great Realisation, Tomos Roberts’ pandemic poem that captured the hearts of millions. Of course, screens have loomed large in the lives of even the youngest

Above left: Emily Lamm, senior commissioning editor, Farshore. Above right: Jane Riordan, publisher, Farshore.

children this year. Research from Farshore and Nielsen has told us that the pandemic has caused the existing trend away from books and towards screen-based entertainment to accelerate. Limiting screen time is a factor cited by many parents as key in encouraging their children to read more. Interestingly though, it’s not the biggest factor cited, which is publishers providing ‘more interesting books’. Which sounds to us like a challenge and an opportunity! At Farshore, we have a lot of opportunities in 2021. It’s 50 years since Roger Hargreaves first showed the world what a tickle looked like with Mr Tickle, Winnie-the-Pooh is celebrating 95 years with a new authorised prequel, Once There Was a Bear, and we’re launching new publishing around YouTube and Netflix sensation, CoComelon, and firm favourite, PAW Patrol. The longer term challenge is strengthening the diversity of publishing to ensure we are providing those ‘more interesting books’, casting our nets wider and deeper, to find compelling stories for everyone. Publishers also need to be at the forefront of encouraging parents to take up the mantle of reading for pleasure. Our research at Farshore shows that for children to become truly engaged as readers, it takes parents who are truly engaged. It’s our challenge as publishers to create books that are impossible to resist. (All YOY analysis based on Nielsen Bookscan TCM36 data for 2019 and 2020 – analysing like for like periods, that exclude the periods of retail shutdown. Primary data source is Top 5000 TCM36.)

Above and right: 50 years of Mr Men will provide opportunities this year, while Julia Donaldson’s backlist – including Night Monkey, Day Monkey – performed well through last year.

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PPS listens in as five senior toy industry executives – Barry Hughes, md, Golden Bear Toys; Mary Wood, general manager UK & Ireland, TOMY; Nic Aldridge, md, Bandai UK; Sam Ireland, operations director, Bigjigs; and Jerry Healy, group marketing director, Character Options – discuss the main challenges and opportunities facing the sector, whether high street retail can bounce back, the continued importance of innovation and if the UK toy business is on for another year of growth in 2021.

Barry Hughes

Mary Wood

Nic Aldridge


Jerry Healy


Mary: “We are fortunate to have many established and well-loved brands that consumers trust, so sales have been very good despite difficult circumstances around us. 12 months ago we were not predicting to have the positive year we have had.” Sam: “Slowly. January and February were sluggish (as we expected) but March was a really good month. A lot of indies in the UK and the EU started to order again ready for re-openings and to support their ongoing efforts online via their websites and social media.” Jerry: “We’re really pleased with how things have started this year. In spite of the lockdown, sales have been good and in line with last year. With retail reopening in April, we’re looking forward to a much stronger second quarter than last year, when sales were affected by strict lockdown measures. The industry is in a far better place now than it was during the initial stages of the pandemic.”

Sam Ireland

Barry: “It’s amazing looking back to a year ago, when the likes of Amazon were only shipping ‘life’s essentials’. Like in all industries, it’s been those companies that have swiftly adapted to fill the gaps that have thrived. The toy industry has seen plenty of examples, from the bigger players that have ramped up their online capabilities and fulfilment to the indies who have taken on local deliveries and offered bespoke services.” Sam: “Amazed I think is the best way to sum it up. So often in business when your back is up against a wall it makes you focus your efforts to find a solution and really get through those tough times. So many retailers have approached the past 12 months with a fabulous entrepreneurial spirit which has allowed them to pivot into channels some had not explored this time last year and make something of the situation they find themselves in.”


Jerry: “I’ve been very impressed! Retailers have been quick to adapt their businesses to tackle the challenges of the past year. You

Right: TOMY’s Toomies will welcome a Jurassic Park range later this year.

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Above: Peppa Pig has enjoyed a strong year for Character Options. Right: CoComelon is a top performer for Bandai.

only have to look at how the impact of lockdown has been reduced as the months have gone on to see how effective their efforts have been. As a general rule, online offerings have vastly improved through lockdown, businesses have rolled out click and collect services with great success, and direct communication with consumers is now better than ever before. Retailers have shown a great deal of initiative to maximise the return of their business during this difficult period.” CAN HIGH STREET RETAIL BOUNCE BACK? WILL A COMBINATION OF PENT UP DEMAND AND THE SUCCESSFUL VACCINE ROLL OUT HAVE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT? Jerry: “Definitely! When you consider how busy the retail outlets that are open are, be it a supermarket or a garden centre, it’s clear how much bricks and mortar retail has been missed. We are a nation of shoppers and shopping is a leisure activity that has become a part of UK culture.” Barry: “We saw many retailers get a bounce after the first lockdown was eased and I expect we will see the same again. The summer I expect will be more like a normal summer. The uncertainty will come again as we approach winter and if variants will cause a further lockdown. We will be ready to adapt and support our retailers whatever pans out.” Nic: “Covid has changed the retail landscape and accelerated trends towards online retail, but I think there is a desire to get back to ‘normal’ and that should aid in retail bouncing back. We will definitely be supporting our retailers as much as we can as we try to return to ‘normal’.” Sam: “I do think that the high street will bounce back, but I think it will be in a more omni-channel way. Stores will need to keep up their online and social media activities to stay in the mind of their consumer and offer them that option of delivery to home or click and collect. Retailers who have that superb store experience - and there are many of them in the toy industry - will always attract customers back because they are a destination store and somewhere kids can browse and be inspired.”

Nic: “Online retail is definitely a key part of the business – now more than ever. We’ve had incredible success here in the last year and plan for further growth. There will be people out there who prefer online retail vs. in-store, so of course online retail will remain a strong focus. With toys there is a strong touch and feel aspect which hasn’t been possible over the last 12 months – many people may choose to keep shopping online. It’s important we make sure we can bring our brands and products to life in the online space.” Mary: “I think the stats speak for themselves. NPD reported that 49% of sales were done last year online in the UK and we too have seen a growth, not surprisingly, in the share of online sales versus bricks and mortar. The bigger question is if consumers have got used to the convenience of sitting at their screens?” HOW IMPORTANT HAS IT BEEN TO CONTINUE TO INVEST IN NEW PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT, INNOVATION AND NEW RANGES DURING THE PAST YEAR? Jerry: “It’s been absolutely essential. Launching new products is what drives brands and sales, so investing into new product development, innovation and new ranges is as important now, as it is at any time for this industry.” Barry: “Critical. The toy industry is a fashion-led business where newness is key. New trends have emerged swiftly due to the pandemic and we pride ourselves on our insights and agility. A fine example of that is our Toothbrush and Handwashing with Duggee product that helps kids brush their teeth and wash their hands for the appropriate amount of time.” Nic: “New product development remains important. New ranges can of course take the place of innovation, but it can also be in the way we approach licences and trends – the end goal is to build brands that last. It’s important to have a balance and make sure we’re building our ranges thoughtfully.” Sam: “New products are always such an important area. We have been beavering away over the past

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INDUSTRY ROUNDTABLE CAN THE UK TOY INDUSTRY ENJOY ANOTHER YEAR OF GROWTH IN 2021? Barry: “We are in a good position to grow again this year with our new products ranges and successful licences. I think in the short-term the toy industry as a whole will continue to do well, with considered purchases and the same product categories that did well in 2020 continuing to do so in 2021. Above: The Green Toys range is going from strength to strength for Bigjigs.

12 months to design and produce over 75 new lines that were launched in January. On top of that we have a fabulous new brand, Tiger Tribe, that we are bringing to the market in June this year that will really complement what we do and add to our arts and crafts category.” WHAT CHALLENGES LIE AHEAD? Sam: “There are so many right now. Shipping continues to be a very expensive and frustrating part of the puzzle, production costs are going up at the fastest rate we have seen in the last five years and logistics into the EU continue to prove challenging. We continue to strive to make our operation as efficient as possible to help combat some of those issues as well as bigger solutions, especially around logistics.”

Mary: “We are very fortunate that ours is an industry that has traditionally survived recession, as well as the huge recent challenges brought about by Covid. When the chips are down, parents will make sacrifices elsewhere to give their children a treat or a desired birthday gift and Christmas is always a special family time. At the moment, the industry is seeing a growth in value but a decline in volume so as stores open and playground chatter builds, it will be interesting to see how the pattern of sales shift.” Nic: “I think what we have to remember is that the growth in 2020 came off the back of three years of consecutive decline, so growth was due to come. I fully believe that the toy industry will be in growth again this year on that basis, albeit quite probably small growth, but growth none the less.” Jerry: “I certainly think it can. The pent-up savings in the economy and less options to spend monies abroad will mean that staycation funds will be there for this year. But regardless of what is happening with the economy, product is king and we have huge confidence in the strength of our product line this year.”

Barry: “Immediate challenges include the sky high container costs from China which is putting pressure on pricing. Uncertainty of how the pandemic plays out is another obvious one.” Right: The Toothbrush and Handwashing Hey Duggee product is an example of Golden Bear keeping up with new trends.


PRODUCT HIGHLIGHTS Barry: “Our licensed preschool ranges continue to do very well. Bing, Hey Duggee and In The Night Garden remain the star performers and are well supported by the likes of Mr Tumble, Love Monster, Waffle The Wonder Dog, Twirlywoos and Sooty and Sweep.” Mary: “All of our preschool brands have had double digit growth in the last year. Lamaze with the Freddie the Firefly range; Toomies with the perennial best seller Hide & Squeak Eggs; Aquadoodle with Super Rainbow Deluxe; and John Deere Kids with Build a Johnny Tractor have all performed extremely well

and have all started the year beating last year’s EPOS.” Nic: “We have few brands in the preschool space, as this is a category we have been actively working on growing these past few years. Initially we started with Timber Tots which focuses on the Magical Tree Play-set – something that has been around since I was a child, so this property is strongly steeped in heritage and nostalgia. Following on from that we launched CoComelon in AW20 which has been a top performer right from the start and continues to grow in sales velocities.”

Sam: “Our FSC range has done really well so far this year, as has the Green Toys range. Green Toys has gone from strength to strength over the past five years in line with consumer expectations that products are developed with a more sustainable approach.” Jerry: “All of our preschool brands are performing well. Peppa Pig has enjoyed a strong year, Fireman Sam has been buoyant, and Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom and Teletubbies have also returned to good numbers. Classic brands on the whole have done well in the industry.”

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THE PROOF OF THE PUD The last year has been tough for all retailers, particularly those who generated the majority of their revenue from bricks and mortar channels. But The Pud Store rounded off 12 months of a global pandemic with a huge acquisition as it purchased Precious Little One. How has Frances Bishop done it?

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t was while she was doing her housework one Sunday morning, that Frances, founder of The Pud Store, reached a crossroads in her business journey. In March 2020 Frances found herself, along with all non-essential retailers, having to close the shop doors due to lockdown. At this point The Pud Store’s online presence, was ‘not very strong’, so she had to move quickly to diversify. Frances started fulfilling online orders from the stores herself every day and the intensity of the period led her to become a voice for what independent retailers were facing on social media. Her outspoken opinion resulted in her being invited onto Sunday Politics. And after the programme aired, while bleaching her toilet, the defining moment happened when she received an email from an investor who’d seen her on the show. Frances remembers: “We met, I told him about the business, what we were facing. And I said I’m at a point where I feel really lonely. “I felt like all I was doing was fighting, but I didn’t know what I was fighting for any more. I absolutely love what I do. I’ve always been known for pushing and pushing and pushing the business, but I’d got to a point, like so many others, where I was just drained.” Frances sold half the business which she now realises was her biggest turning point. There’s now a team in place, she’s learned to delegate, and the business is growing rapidly. She comments: “What I would say to any small business owner, is that the point where you feel like breaking is your crossroad point. “So you stand up, brush yourself down and crack

Left: To survive in a post-pandemic landscape, Frances believes retailers will need a strong multi-channel offering.

on with it, and you stop being a victim. We could all be victims because of Covid. I could have given up last year, but I didn’t.” As the UK settled into the third lockdown in a year, Frances and her investor broke the news that they’d bought the assets of nursery retailer, Precious Little One (PLO), which went into administration in January. Frances recalls: “It was like the stars had aligned. We were looking at ways to increase transactions for We’d spoken about hardware and decided it was something we needed to heavily go into, so we could capture customers from birth. We wanted to do our own private label range, which is now in production, to enable us to carry them through the ten-year journey. So PLO was almost like the missing piece to the puzzle.” It was all hands to the deck again, a team was assembled and they merged the stock of the two companies into the warehouse. In just a month, Frances managed to relaunch the site, but following a very different plan. Frances feels strongly about the pre-order model and PLO provides a clear statement of intent where products will be shipped in 48 hours. “I think PLO is the first of many,” Frances warns. “There’s a lot of similar retailers in similar situations and this scares me. You’ve got retailers selling stuff that’s out of stock, drop shipping products, and taking parents’ money when the product won’t be in stock for weeks or months. This is a real industry problem. Why can’t we just sell stuff that we’ve got in stock?” The importance of community which has been so strong in The Pud Store, has also now been implemented into PLO. For example, the team has replied to 18,000 messages which had been ignored during its last six months of trading. Frances explains: “I don’t want the future of The Pud Store and PLO to just be transactional. For me it’s about community, a story and people. I want people to want to be part of our community, to know they’re not just buying a brand, they’re buying hope, a good product, someone who cares if there’s a problem, who aren’t just going to fob them off.” And that may just be the secret to the business’s success.

“ I want people to want to be part of our community, to know they’re not just buying a brand… they’re buying hope, a good product, someone who cares if there’s a problem. ”

Left: Since her investor came on board, Fran has been learning to delegate to her new team, but is still very hands-on. Below: The acquisition of Precious Little One enables the company to capture customers from birth.

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“Delivering innovation, “Delivering innovation, qualityquality and value on time....every and value on time....every time.” time.”







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LICENSED APPAREL Inset: has been enjoying success with super hero characters which are normally associated with an older demographic.


When it comes to licensed apparel for babies and toddlers, the watchwords for parents are value, quality and functionality, combined, of course, with those all important characters. PPS takes a look at what’s hot for retail right now in the category – from design trends and sustainability through to gender neutral vibes and lifestyle brands.


he preschool licensed retail, and for us it's been about 2020. “Sales in preschool have apparel category trying to keep our operations been exceptionally strong. is one which is working in the face of huge “For us it's always about finding continually innovating spikes in demand combined with out what the customer wants so - taking inspiration from wider new working environments and we are always testing and refining fashion trends, colours, prints virtual meetings with colleagues our strategy based on what and designs to combine with and suppliers,” explains Karen customers are buying and searching popular characters from Bing Hewitt, co-founder of Character. for. The growth in our current through to Batman, Peppa Pig com, which won Best Online babywear and preschool range over to PAW Patrol and Winnie the Retailer of Preschool Products at the last 12 months has meant we Pooh to Wonder Woman. the Progressive Preschool Awards have lots of new ideas and products The restrictions placed in mind to expand the SUSTAINABILITY AT THE FOREFRONT on non essential retail category even further.” over the past year mean Karen says that, as well’s Karen says that sustainability is “probably that the grocers have as the more traditional the biggest issue on the agenda for us” and she believes that enjoyed an uptick in preschool licences, retailers will need to respond quickly to customers’ demands sales – with Sainsbury’s, has also on the issue. Asda, Tesco and been enjoying success “It's a transition that seems to have taken a long time to Morrisons all upping with superhero characters arrive but now it's well and truly here retailers will have to their game – while online respond quickly to the new demands from customers to meet which would normally sustainability goals,” she says. “For us that means learning best be associated with an specialists have also seen practice from larger retailers and talking to suppliers about increased demand. older demographic such how developments in technology and production can get us “It's been such a tough as Wonder Woman, to where we need to be.” year for everyone in Batman and Spider-Man.

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LICENSED APPAREL Left: George @ Asda has “I think this shows how IN BLOOM widened its brand credentials much parents nostalgia with its new RHS partnership. It’s not just character brands which plays into how and explains that Character. are proving popular with retailers. what gets purchased,” com is trying to erase George @ Asda is collaborating with she comments. the boundaries of the Royal Horticultural Society Melanie Fieldsend, on clothing and accessories for colours between buying manager for youngsters from the age of one. items for boys childrenswear at The range includes shirts, t-shirts, and girls, while it Sainsbury’s Tu, told PPS hoodies, dresses, shorts, boots, backpacks has also focused a lot earlier this year that and rainhats. The George design team on novelty designs for licensed clothing would has collaborated with the RHS to create babies in particular. always play a part in its a unique print direction featuring hand“Popular prints include preschool ranges as long drawn illustrations of smiling vegetables, stripes, checks and floral bright garden tools and colourful tractors. as customers continued designs and we have tried There are also slogans such as ‘I am growing to buy into them. to focus on these looks every day’, ‘You can find me in the garden’ Character clothing where possible,” she says. and the collection’s tagline ‘Let’s go and grow’, while swing has been a strong “It is no secret that the tags have been designed in the shape of flower pots. performer for the grocer must have of children's Estella Arroyo, product design profession lead at George, over the past year, with apparel is the 'family look' comments: “We are very proud to be collaborating with the Peter Rabbit ranges RHS on this wonderful range which has been worked through particularly during festive on baby standing out by two companies who have the same values in mind. We‘re periods and we are looking in particular along delighted with the final product which displays both quality to further this theme with The Gruffalo, and style and encourages children to get outside and grow.” through our preschool Zog and Disney. range throughout 2021.” Disney has also Karen concludes: In addition, a new Disney proven to be a winner for George “Peppa Pig and PAW Patrol premature baby range in organic @ Asda. Following the successful remain hugely important licences cotton is also due to launch this introduction of a Disney shop for us and we are always trying year. Ruth Golightly, head of in over 300 Asda stores last to introduce fresh designs and baby and maternity for George October, the retailer further innovative products into these @ Asda, explained to sister title, expanded the relationship with licences to keep them at the Licensing Source Book, earlier the launch of a Disney Baby shop forefront of our preschool offering. this year: “This is affordable in January on and After a strong launch in 2020 clothing for premature babies in approximately 20 stores. This we are really excited to expand which we have designed with consists of co-ordinated clothing our product range on Cocomelon advice from midwives and and nursery ranges for all Disney during 2021 as we think it is neo-natal specialists.” classics, such as Winnie the Pooh, going to prove a great seller When it comes to Dumbo, Minnie and Mickey given its huge popularity.” design trends, Karen Mouse and The Lion King. Right: has been introducing fresh designs and innovative new products for popular brands such as Peppa Pig. Below: The Disney Baby shop launched in January on and in approximately 20 stores.

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SECTOR FOCUS Inset: Bambino Mio has designed its swim products to ensure little ones can splash about safely, sustainably and in style.

With the Government passing legislation to extend the foreign travel ban to midsummer, holidays abroad are beginning to feel like a distant memory. But the accommodation industry in the UK is now slowly reopening, so nursery travel suppliers are gearing up for a summer of staycations. PPS chats to some of them to find out their plans for the year ahead.



hile the preschool market as a whole seems to have fared better than many industries throughout the last year, suppliers of travel products have had a less certain forecast with foreign travel proving very patchy as new strains of COVID-19 are identified. But after a tough year, families are rallying round and embracing the idea of staycations. Richard White, director at LittleLife, explains: “Most places are already full and the families waiting to see what is going to happen might find it hard to find accommodation. There will probably be more weekends away rather than full weeks, as people wait to see what the weather will be like.” Amanda Jenner, director of My Carry Potty, agrees that this trend is likely to extend beyond the lifting of the foreign travel ban: “I think from speaking to lots of families I

work with, they are all saying the next 18 months they are looking at doing staycations and they sound very positive about this.” Joanne Rice, senior business development exec at CarGoSeat, believes that the extra time afforded by lockdown has given us a new Below: The baby & beyond change bag is a firm favourite among Bambino Mio’s fans, due to its versatile hybrid design. Below right: LittleLife has already seen that products such as the family sized beach shelters, which wouldn’t usually be bought for foreign travel, are in high demand.

admiration of our home country. She comments: “Family time has been valued over the last year with time out to explore local parks, countryside and spaces which might have been overlooked before with obligations of other activities taking precedent over free time. “This appreciation of our British countryside is something we expect to continue with families likely to make the most of even short breaks and getaways as well as the longanticipated family holiday abroad.”

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SECTOR FOCUS Right: Little Goat Gruff is busy getting ready for reopening this summer.

And certain essential products are likely to see a surge in popularity, as Damon explains: “We can certainly Paris Booton, owner of expect to see a growth in the sales of independent retailer Little Goat travel cots. As restrictions continue Gruff, in St Ives, believes the trend to lift and people are able to travel towards staying in the UK this further afield to stay with friends year will mean that summer lasts and family, these items will become longer than ever. She explains: increasingly popular, whereas they “Being in a busy seaside resort, haven’t been something people have it’s hard to imagine it could get needed to buy over the last year.” any busier than normal as most SURVIVING BY THE SEASIDE It isn’t just products which can accommodation locally was Being a coastal indie retailer has been a tough help families though. Little Life fully booked throughout the ask over the last year. And while Little Goat predicts an increase in camping and summer before the pandemic Gruff has felt the strain, online sales have outdoor pursuits over the summer, and travel ban, but we are kept the business afloat. And the team is now as their products which wouldn’t expecting to see an ‘extended’ looking forward to better months ahead as usually be bought for overseas summer season into October they come up with innovative ideas to increase travel, such as family-sized beach and beyond with the travel ban.” footfall, while also helping the environment. shelters, as well as its Lifeventure With a certain change in Owner Paris Booton explains: “We have brand’s camping plates and bowls, plans, travel suppliers have been very busy getting our little shop ready are already seeing increased had to think carefully about for reopening and we are very excited to be demand. Richard sees information product development in order offering completely free wooden belly board as a key area manufacturers hire to families this summer. Being a seaside to support families for this can support consumers with. shop we see the effects of the cheap foam year’s holidays and beyond. He explains: “Information is the body boards polluting our coast and decided Enhanced functionality and key and if the industry can help to do something about it.” multi-purpose products are key here that would be great. I believe for families trying to pack all of products that help parents that more people will be camping they need into the boot of the car. going on long car journeys and for the first time this year with their Damon Marriott, head of offer products that solve problems family. Camping with a young family product development at Allison when they are out and about.” is wonderful, but people often think Baby, explains: “We can support Such innovation is continually you have to take everything with families by creating great products emerging. Abi Sullivan, digital you, you don’t. If the industry can that offer enhanced features for a marketing executive, Bambino offer advice on what is essential great price. Parents with children Mio, says: “We expect to see a and what isn’t, it would certainly from new babies to toddlers continued increase in demand for help. To go a step further, having will be looking for strollers that sustainable baby travel products a database of locations that have are suitable from birth that will that are convenient, lightweight vacancies would be very helpful.” make travel simple and easy.” and most importantly, easy to use. Eco friendly credentials are Amanda sees problem solving Our baby & beyond change bag is a another aspect which all of the products as key going forward: firm favourite among fans due to its industry sees as an ongoing “We need to offer a large range versatile hybrid design, lightweight demand from consumers. Joanne fabric and the unique water Below: Allison Baby believes that comments: “Sustainability or resistant ‘messy pocket’ that securely parents will be looking for strollers that recycling options are also a request are suitable from birth that make travel stores wet swim wear, reusable simple and easy, like its Tourist model. of parents and as such we’re proud nappies, reusable baby wipes, Below right: CarGoSeat says that of our recycling programme potty training pants and more.” staycations are definitely on people’s agendas. available to minimise landfill once product is no longer in use.” It’s also important to add some fun into the travel products. Abi concludes: “It’s been an extremely difficult year for many, so we’re delighted to see spring/summer 21 trends bring us some joy in the form of happy, vibrant and fun-loving designs as consumers start to look forward to the warmer months. Holidays may be looking different this year, but that won’t stop parents and their little ones travelling in style.”

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One range endless possibilities Pembrey’s multiple colourways and versatile pieces create a stylish nursery, no matter the size. RRP - 3 piece room sets from £649 Please contact your account manager for more information: Grant Koston 07900 612800

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The Sleep&Go 3-in-1 travel cot from Micralite offers a multi-tasking sleep and play solution and can be used as a playpen, co-sleeping crib and travel cot, from birth up to three years. Remarkably easy to assemble and super lightweight, Sleep&Go unfolds and packs up again in seconds. It fits into a compact carry case, making it the ideal travel companion. Certified for overnight sleeping, Sleep&Go includes a newborn insert raised off the ground. Tel: 01756 702410



Konfidence has added two new designs to its popular Roll & Go chlorine resistant changing mat range. The two new under-the-sea designs have been created to colour co-ordinate with its Sea Friends collection of baby swimwear. The mat is great for parents with babies and toddlers who need an easy to carry changing mat at the swimming pool, whilst out and about, or on holiday. Available in a choice of colours – pink, blue, navy or red – and now navy and pink Sea Friends. Tel: 01566 777887

Whether it’s the paddling pool in the garden, the beach or swimming pool, Splash About’s new Happy Nappy Sunsuit is set to be a must have for babies and toddlers in the summer heat. The unique design combines the brand’s best-selling Happy Nappy swim nappy with a UPF50+ sun protection rash top for 2-in-1 protection in and out of the water. It’s suitable from birth to 24 months, in five designs; Hidden Treasure, Crocodile Swamp, Little Ducks, Vintage Moby and Under the Sea. Tel: 0845 5280831

RED KITE The Strollshade from Red Kite is a convenient and safe way to protect baby when out walking in sunlight. The full cover ensures no direct rays can reach baby, giving the ultimate protection from harmful rays.It’s easy to fit with Velcro attachments meaning the Strollshade can fit most buggies and strollers. Tel: 01454 326555

LAESSIG The preschooler backpack from Laessig is the ideal companion for young adventurers and world explorers. Its water-repellent outer material makes it ideal for outdoor trips – both in the sun and in the rain. In the main compartment there is enough space for a change of clothes and snacks and in a separate compartment there is space for a cold pack which keeps food supplies fresh for a long time. The nature-related motifs of a dragonfly and a tractor, as well as a clear name badge sleeve on the inside, make this backpack unique and simply unmistakable. Available from NSA UK. Tel: 01483 527799

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jaw-some NEW ARRIVALS! JUST IN for 2021

Skip Hop Exclusively Distributed by Toynamics t: +44 (0)116 478 5230 e:

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Cheeky Rascals is delighted to announce the potty-training experts at Potette have expanded their resources to further support parents through every step of the potty-training journey. The award-winning 2 in 1 Potette Plus is ideal for holidays and visits outside of the home to help parents and children with the potty-training process. Tel: 01730 895761



The Red Kite Travel Booster is a compact and super light portable booster seat that is perfect for mealtimes on the go. The safety straps and adjustable three point harness ensure that little ones are safe and secure at all times. The lightweight foam cushion with nonslip rubber feet is comfortable to sit on and the wipe clean fabric is easy to keep clean. It converts smartly into a stylish bag with shoulder strap and features a handy storage pocket for all of baby’s essentials. Tel: 01454 326555

Championing the amazing work of the emergency services, LittleLife is proud to introduce its new Emergency Services Toddler Backpacks. The Ambulance is one of three designs that take its iconic Toddler Backpack design, with BS EN 13210:2004 harness, and allows the child to be a paramedic for the day. High vis details and a fantastic blue flashing light - which flashes when tapped - will ensure children won’t ever want to take it off. Tel: 0118 9811433

HIPPYCHICK The Dooky Travel chair creates a suitable seat for children aged from six months to three years when parents are on the go. It’s easy to adjust to a normal chair and is ideal for staycations, visits to family and friends, or restaurants. Parents can enjoy being out and about while their little one is sitting safe and calm next to them. The adjustable straps on the side can be fixed around almost any chair. The five point harness secures the child to the chair. Available from Hippychick. Tel: 01278 434440

BAMBINO MIO Bambino Mio is launching a new sustainable swim collection for 2021, called Tropical Punch. The new collection features laid back pastels with punchy pops of colour. The Tropical Punch collection is perfect for little beach bums, pool paddlers and garden dwellers, introducing four new fruity character designs available in reusable swim nappies which will be launching alongside the brand’s wet bag, rash top, reversible swim hat and travel mat. The four new fruity designs include: pineapple party, cool citrus, mellow melon and lemon twist. Tel: 01604 883777

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RANGE FOCUS Inset: The Trudi range sits well within both toy and gift retailers. Below left: Iulia Toader, marketing manager, GP Flair.


With a 65+ year heritage, the Trudi soft toy brand is renowned for its quality and refined designs. Having been welcomed to the GP Flair portfolio, the company is now working hard to make it the go-to brand for plush gifting with both retailers and consumers. PPS finds out how from marketing manager, Iulia Toader.

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soft toy is likely one of the first items that a baby will be gifted, and the plush category remains solid business for retailers all year-round. For GP Flair, the addition of the Trudi brand – which has a heritage spanning over 65 years – to its portfolio helps it to further cement its position as a one-stop-shop for preschoolers, says Iulia Toader, the company’s marketing manager. Founded in Italy, the Trudi brand offers a wide selection of plush product which is popular with both toy and gift retailers. “Carefully crafted to last a lifetime, these soft toys make wonderful gifts, plus because the range is so comprehensive, Trudi caters for all sizes and tastes,” Iulia tells PPS. The Classic plush range includes eight hand-made and stitched animals in small and medium sizes; Trudini includes six miniatures which come in their own collectable bag; Fluffies are cuddly cub characters with extra long fur; Trudi Puppets are designed to stimulate the imagination and encourage storytelling, with eight available; and Trudi Charms are little plush pals which can be attached to prams, backpacks or loop over door handles or bed frames in a nursery. Because of the range’s aesthetic, Flair is choosing social media to help connect with customers. Iulia explains: “Trudi is not just a soft toy, it’s a lifestyle choice. These are plush toys which are designed to be photographed, as well as cuddled. For this reason, Flair is choosing

Left: The Trudi Charms sit at a lower price point ensuring there is something for everyone in the range.

social media to connect with consumers through aspirational and high quality content over the course of the year. “We have comprehensive marketing plans in place to create a strong pull at retail. Our social campaign involves some familiar celebrity faces, as well as many high profile UK-based influencers and bloggers. The purpose of this campaign is to raise the brand’s profile in the UK, and ensure that Trudi is widely recognised for its exceptional quality and Instagrammable appeal.” Retail reaction, says Iulia, has so far been “fantastic”. She comments: “Trudi is now supported by numerous retailers, both independents and majors, as well as online. We really are delighted by how well they’ve been received by both retailer and consumer alike. And the collection is set to go from strength to strength this year, so consider this just the beginning.” Flair is further supporting its retail partners with bespoke CDUs and FSDUs including stands for the puppets. “It’s also worth noting that our retailers have had great success with Trudi window displays, as the product looks so lovely that it really does sell itself,” Iulia adds. “We’re forever reviewing the Trudi range and adding newness to the collection. Throughout the year retailers and buyers can look forward to many new additions, with new characters joining the collection, as well as whole new segments added to the range.” Extensions to the traditional plush range will include the new Trudi Bags and the Cremino Bears with Music Box. These will launch for AW21 with a number of in-store display options. “As a collection that sits so beautifully with both gift and toy retailers, Trudi cements Flair’s position as a one-stop-shop for preschoolers. We’re working hard to make Trudi the go-to brand for plush gifting and high-quality soft toys. Retailers should know that we are deeply committed to Trudi and we truly believe in the brand,” Iulia concludes.

“As a collection that sits so beautifully with both gift and toy retailers, Trudi cements Flair’s position as a onestop-shop for preschoolers.”

Right: The Trudi Puppets are designed to stimulate imagination and encourage storytelling. Below: Flair is looking to create a strong pull at retail, employing a social campaign involving celebrities, influencers and bloggers to help raise Trudi’s profile

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2-INTRAIN 1 ING BIKE GO KART WITH BLASTERS AND DARTS © 2021 Moonbug™ Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.


©2019 Marvel

Ready for adventure Progressive Preschool FP AD CoComelon 2021 v1.indd 1 44_PPS_April 2021.indd 1

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SECTOR FOCUS Inset: Hippychick enjoyed great success with the Trybike last year.


The outdoor category was one of the big winners in the toy market last year – the sector grew 15% in 2020 according to NPD data. As the roadmap out of lockdown continues, the weather warms up and holidays look likely to be spent in the UK, this year is shaping up to be another successful one for the category. And demand is already soaring, as PPS discovers.


riting this with bright sunshine streaming through the windows ahead of the long Easter weekend, the longawaited longer days, lighter nights and warmer temperatures are no longer simply the stuff of dreams… whisper it, but summer is coming and, along with it, a whole host of new outdoor play opportunities. Whether that’s bikes, trikes or scooters in the park, trampolining

or water and sand play in the back garden, all of the signs are pointing towards another bumper period for suppliers and retailers within the category. REINFORCED VALUE “I do think lockdown has reinforced the value and importance of outdoor play and this is reflected in last year’s sector demand, with growth significantly ahead of the total toy market,” Phil Ratcliffe, joint md

at MV Sports tells PPS. “Outdoor toys (especially wheeled toys) are critical in developing motor skills, balance, hand eye co-ordination and physical development; promoting a healthy, active outdoor lifestyle. “Outdoor play also fosters a sense of freedom, achievement and well-being among children while stimulating young imaginations via role-play activities.” All evidence shows that spend increased across the sector last

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SECTOR FOCUS year and Phil is confident that the trend is set to continue in 2021. MV Sports has developed over 200 new products, many of which fall into the preschool category. In particular, it has added new and innovative ride-ons to classic licences such as Peppa Pig and PAW Patrol including the new Bobble ride-on. The company’s Hedstrom range of outdoor play equipment has also been updated to include a Musical Toddler Swing with 20 musical pre-set songs and smartphone capability. The uMove preschool wheeled toys range is also going from strength to strength, says Phil. With sell outs experienced on a number of products last year, possession of stock will be critical this year and with lead times extending, Phil is urging retailers to get their orders in early. “As an industry we can help encourage children to play outside more,” Phil continues. “I know that BTHA’s Make Time To Play Campaign has been active in making parents and kids aware of the benefits and possibilities of outdoor play. Brand owners and suppliers can also help by launching new and exciting products to entice children outside and reaching out to parents via social media to raise awareness.” SPARKING CURIOSITY “Outdoor play has always been a key offering for us, but it’s safe to say it plays an even more important part in our children’s development during a pandemic,” says Michelle Lilley, head of marketing UK for Little Tikes. “With all our outdoor toys at Little Tikes, the aim is to encourage active and imaginative play - getting little ones moving, sparking their curiosity and developing skills like mobility and coordination. During lockdown, this kind of stimulation is essential.” Little Tikes’ outdoor category saw a considerable uplift in sales last year – indeed, it secured number one category positions across its core outdoor segments.

“We’re expecting 2021 to be another strong year, particularly while families are looking to spend more time together at home,” Michelle continues. “Naturally, families are investing in their homes and gardens, and looking at ways they can keep their kids entertained from there - we’ve already seen above-season demand for our core classic lines this year to date, and we’re looking forward to another busy summer.” The company has developed its new Growing Garden range for families spending more time in the garden as a result of on-going restrictions and is confident that it will become a strong arm in its outdoor offering. “We know how much kids love getting mucky in the garden and Growing Garden is a great way of letting them feel

“Outdoor play will encourage children to explore, step out of their comfort zone and build confidence.” Jeremy Minchin, md, Hippychick part of the gardening fun – all while encouraging the whole family to play,” says Michelle. In addition, Little Tikes has also extended its role-play offering, emerging into new categories with lines such as the Tobi Robot Smartwatch which helps children aged 4+ build their understanding about the importance of being active. ORDER EARLY, ORDER ENOUGH For Jeremy Minchin, md at Hippychick, stocking ranges that urge children to play outdoors and get them excited about going on bike rides with their family is a must. The company’s Trybike was a runaway success last year and this year will see it launch new Classic World products, wooden balancing games, a

Above: Little Tikes’ new Growing Garden range has been developed for families spending more time in the garden as a result of Covid-19 restrictions.

robot-themed First Walker, Forest Stacking Rings and Bears Tower. The Vilac metal car range is also being expanded and there are new wooden and vintage ride-ons. “Outdoor play will encourage children to explore, step out of their comfort zone and build confidence,” says Jeremy. “We see spend increasing this year, too, as there seems little likelihood of large scale holidaying overseas.” Jeremy does, however, have this advice for retailers: order early and order enough. “If you talk to us about your plans and expectations, we have at least a chance of fulfilling them. If you just send a big order in with no prior notification, we cannot be prepared for it in advance and may well not be able to fulfil it. And display products out and in action – nothing sells as well when it is hidden in a box.”

Inset: MV Sports’ Hedstrom range of outdoor play equipment has been updated to include a Musical Toddler Swing.

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Play Different...

TEL: 020 8878 2133 • SALES@JURATOYS.CO.UK • WWW.LALABOOM.TOYS Jura Toys.indd 1

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Adrian Sneyd, show organiser, Harrogate International Nursery Fair talks switching careers, changes in the nursery business, his best piece of advice and sharing the tea making duties.


what they would like to achieve and then work to find a solution we can achieve together.


I officially joined the Nursery Fair team over ten years ago now to work alongside Robert Anslow (the show owner). My previous roles had been on a completely different track having worked for local government for 25 years. For a good 20 years of this period I’d taken a week’s holiday each year to help Robert run the fair. During these years I’d done everything from traffic control and unloading trucks, to scanning visitors and cleaning all the halls. Some hard graft but enjoyable all the same, and what it did give me was a good insight into the industry that clearly knows how important the social side of the business is.

“ We pride ourselves in trying to be as flexible as possible.” WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT IN THE ROLE? It wasn’t only me who changed career to join Robert. Simon (Robert’s son) also left his job at the same time, so we became a team of three, meaning that we are all hands on with every aspect of running the fair. We don’t simply sell a stand and pass it on to another section to pick up the pieces. We’ll do our best to ‘own’ any problem that might come our way and find a solution as fast as possible. Obviously, my aim is to have all of the halls filled with stands and busy with buyers: something we achieved a few years ago when we did manage to grow the show to this scale and there wasn’t a square foot of space spare to squeeze anyone else in. FAVOURITE PART OF YOUR JOB? I enjoy the challenge of trying to find each exhibitor the stand they want - something not always straightforward given the complex layout of the Harrogate halls. We pride ourselves in trying to be as flexible as possible I’ll ask and listen to the exhibitor’s requirements and

WHO IS THE UNSUNG HERO IN YOUR COMPANY? Whoever’s turn it is to make the tea. Being just the three of us, we all take it in turns. WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHANGE WITHIN THE NURSERY INDUSTRY THAT YOU HAVE SEEN SINCE YOU HAVE WORKED IN IT? I’m sure that everyone working in the nursery industry for as long as I have will have seen significant changes over the years - the prominence of online sales detracting business from the high streets, the demise of some of the large multiple retailers which were once the ‘go to’ destinations for parents-to-be and fewer independent retailers. It appears to be harder now than ever for products to be manufactured in the UK, resulting in many more imports (even those which have been originally designed in Britain). The cost of manufacturing and getting products to market appears to be more challenging and many of the numerous ‘mumpreneurs’ who launched some really innovative new product ideas at the show with genuine enthusiasm seem to be diminishing every year. WHAT’S THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE THAT YOU’VE EVER BEEN GIVEN? To count to ten. Try and reflect first, then act second. IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT THE NURSERY BUSINESS, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY? To just get everyone on the same page at the same time together. I believe that united we stand, so while the nursery business isn’t huge in the UK, what it does offer is a great opportunity for everyone to benefit from being together and be able to present customers with the best platform to showcase their products in a cost-effective, friendly and easy run show solution.

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Inset: Ickle Bubba aims to provide new parents with an affordable, all in one travel solution that doesn’t compromise on quality, safety or style. Below: Fran Vaughan set up Ickle Bubba in 2013 with a clear vision for his business.



As a self-proclaimed ‘growth market disruptor’, Ickle Bubba entered the market in 2013 with a clear vision, and has been on a journey of expansion ever since. PPS catches up with md, Fran Vaughan to find out about the journey so far, and what the plans are for the company over the coming years.

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hen Fran Vaughan found himself at the beginning of his parenting journey in 2011, he quickly realised the cost involved with the job, which set him on the path of creating a different kind of nursery brand. He recalls: “I was startled by the array of choice and the price of everything when adding together all of the separate pushchair components. “Fast forward two years and Ickle Bubba started trading in 2013, aiming to give new parents an affordable, all in one travel solution that didn’t compromise on quality, safety or style.” Above: The Pembrey collection is the latest Just eight years later, the Llanelli-based company addition to the company’s furniture offering. employs 55 staff members across six Left: Fran was startled by the array of choice and different locations in the UK and price when starting his parenting journey. China. By the end of the next quarter, “Outside of travel and furniture, we have Ickle Bubba’s headcount will be close to 70. some very exciting plans for the launch of Last month, the business completed a a new soft goods category. Watch this space.” successful three-year growth strategy, focusing So what is it that makes Ickle Bubba unique on the domestic market. Plans for the next five in the busy nursery market and allows it years include international expansion. Fran explains: the strong and steady growth it has “Our vision is to become an internationally recognised, experienced so far? Fran believes market leading nursery brand that offers great the way of working within the products, for all people, on all budgets. business is a key to its success: “I “The last three years has shown us what’s think our internal culture and the possible in the UK and we’re very excited product solutions we bring to the for the next stage of our journey.” parenting market is what makes And that last three years included us unique in the nursery industry. riding out COVID-19, which Ickle “As a fast growth market disruptor, we’re always looking Bubba managed to weather well, like much of for new entrepreneurial ways of working. This is felt the nursery industry. Fran explains: “Fortunately internally by creating an environment that empowers our we’ve been able to trade well and haven’t seen a people to operate semi-autonomously which results in a negative impact as a result of the pandemic. unique product range that offers great value for parents.” “During the first lockdown, like most businesses, All of the coming activity and launches will be backed we saw a noticeable shift towards online sales in with full marketing plans to help support customers and April. Perhaps due to fear of missing out and raise brand awareness. Fran says: “We’ve made a big parents not knowing if they would be able to get investment in marketing over the last three years and will what they needed later on down the line. continue to do so. Increasing brand awareness and driving “The offline balance was restored once physical customers into retailers will play a huge part of our plans, retail opened up, but has since reverted back, and alongside this, we’re working on a brand refresh however not to the same levels we saw at the start that you’ll start to see coming through in the summer.” of the first lockdown. We are now looking forward to supporting our retailers again once stores reopen across the UK in the coming months.” Fran tells us that the coming year will see the company Right: The new Eclipse travel system offers even launching into new territories, while also expanding greater functionality. the product range further. Traditionally the company STAY TUNED has created travel and furniture Ickle Bubba is constantly creating new, innovative products, including travel products and there are fresh lines incoming soon. systems, car seats, strollers, The new Eclipse travel system is launching this and a wide range of nursery month and is set to offer even greater functionality furniture, including full sets, and style to the existing wheeled range. cots and cot beds, changing There are also three new furniture sets units, mattresses, wardrobes, incoming between now and Christmas. Frans says: nursing chairs and accessories. “We are really looking forward to launching these But Fran teases us with products, as it means we can offer our customers news of additional categories more choice whatever their budget and to suit their personal style.” being launched in the future.

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As a nation, we’ve never spent as much time at home as we have over the last year, so it’s no surprise that so many have turned to DIY to pass the lockdown days. But how has this impacted nursery sales? PPS speaks to those in the know to find out more. Inset: Safety, comfort, design and sustainability are the key factors for all parents when planning a nursery, says Hippychick.

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t’s not only been garden makeovers and living room updates which have been taking up our DIY to do lists over the past year, it seems that nurseries and children’s bedrooms have also been a key priority if sales of nursery products are anything to go by. Mark Nichols, brand director at Green Sheep Group, has seen a huge uplift in sales and believes the time afforded by the pandemic has been a key factor: “Our nursery furniture sales are up 75% YOY which has been the result of many things including increased brand awareness and distribution. However, I feel the pandemic has accelerated our growth. Parents-to-be have had more time to reflect on their home design, and have spent more time online whilst being exposed to nursery inspiration.” The desire to treat children living through difficult times has also been a factor, as Jo Duckworth, director at Dreamtex, explains: “The last 12 months have been difficult for everyone, particularly children who have found themselves playing in their bedrooms rather than mixing with their friends and peer groups. Children’s bedrooms, which is after all the space they live in, have never been more important. “A brand new duvet set or the addition of the child’s favourite character on a bean bag or cushion for example, brightens up the room and puts a smile on the child’s face. This is a simple touch with lasting results and we have been fortunate here at Dreamtex that our online retail presence has remained strong, which has allowed the consumer to access our products when many High Street stores remained closed.”

SECTOR FOCUS Right: The Green Sheep Group says that unisex nursery designs are in demand as parents-to-be also seek more muted, pastel interior styles. Below: Tonieboxes are soft enough to cuddle up to and robust enough to play with, making them suitable to create a stylish nursery setting.

What is also certain is that we are seeing a move away from traditional blue and pink themes, as nurseries begin to fit in more with the overall design of the house. Mark explains: “Over the years we’ve seen nursery design being influenced by more general home interior design trends, with less gender specific colours and a move towards more neutral decor that is in keeping with the design of the home. This is evident in the sales data we see at Snüz, with far more bias towards grey, natural and white coloured furniture and accessories compared to the pinks and blues of years gone by.” Nicola Carrera, regional sales manager at Kidcentral also picks out a further design as key: “Solid colours, creams, pale yellow, rose pinks, foggy blues, ochres, are key - it's not typical baby pink and blue. The colour palettes are forever changing with even black being introduced. “The nature theme is also strong, it’s all about introducing children to nature from an early stage, with rattles of bees, snails, moles, badgers and beetles.” In older preschool bedrooms, Paul Hanson, founder of The Children’s Furniture Company, has found that a more subtle version of the pink for girls has been emerging: “Particularly for girl’s bedrooms,

CHANGING PALETTES With many new nurseries being designed and children’s bedrooms updated, there are some key design trends standing out for most manufacturers and suppliers. Alex Molyneux, marketing executive at Hippychick, tells PPS: “Neutral is key this year. We are seeing a lot of focus around beautiful warm terracottas, browns, dusky yellows and general calming colours. The trends are showing that everyone needs some calm, comforting colours right now, understandably.” Debbie Wakefield, marketing manager at Dorel Juvenile UK and Ireland agrees: “At present, we are seeing a lot of trends in interiors for neutral tones, A REPRIEVE FROM natural fittings and dePLASTIC WASTE cluttered spaces. Based on Dreamtex has been at the forefront of these trends, the Maxi-Cosi reducing the carbon footprint in bedroom Home Equipment collection design, as Jo explains: “Sustainability was created with a clean for our customers has become a very design that we believe fits important issue as we are reminded of in with most homes. We the damage discarded plastic is doing have paid close attention to our planet. Dreamtex are the first to popular colour schemes, licensed bedding company to use the opting for graphite, grey and fabric Repreve which is made directly dark blues to complement from recycled plastic bottles. Our Repreve most styles, with practical Gruffalo collection is currently available elements such as compact at retail in junior and single sizes, with folds to fit in with all plans for more preschool licensed bedding homes, big or small.” designs to use Repreve in autumn 2021.”

Above: The Repreve Gruffalo collection is currently available in junior and single sizes.

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Left: The Below: Th Caption to

• • • • • •

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SECTOR FOCUS we’ve seen an influx of luxury-looking blush and copper bedrooms coming through from our customers.” ECO FRIENDLY Outside of design there are some key factors influencing parents’ purchasing decisions and nursery design has not escaped the all-encompassing move towards sustainability. Lucia Kreuzer, gm at Tonies UK and Ireland, comments: “Sustainability is high on the agenda for parents in 2021, and so we’re proud that the outside of our Tonieboxes are made from carefully-woven sustainable fabric, coming in a range of colours to suit every nursery colour scheme.” Nicola agrees: “Consumers, I can only imagine, are driving the buyers’ decisions to push for packaging that does not contain plastic. Eco friendly is the way forward and many buyers are wanting to offer that conscious product.” But eco friendly materials are not always practical when designing nursery products, so manufacturers are having to look at different ways to improve their sustainable credentials, as Debbie explains: “When creating the Maxi-Cosi Home Equipment collection, and all other Maxi-Cosi products, we look to create products that are timeless, and therefore don’t need to be updated to fit in with short-term design trends. “It’s incredibly hard for these products to be ‘sustainable’ in the sense of being eco-friendly and recyclable, however we create all our Home products with longevity in mind, so they will last a family through their many children, or parents can pass them on to Right: Form, function and safety are the key points The Children’s Furniture Company considers when designing new furniture. Below: 65% of Snüz customers said that product aesthetics matter most to them. Below middle: Kidcentral reports that nursery décor sales have never been better, with parents buying more toys to entertain their children and needing storage solutions. Below right: All of The Children’s Furniture Company’s materials come from sustainable source and the firm works with a zero emissions delivery company.

Above left: Even the controls of Tonieboxes make you smile – squeeze the ears to change the volume and tilt to fast forward or rewind. Above: The PJ Masks Hero Crew reversible duvet set features a road nap on the reverse which can be used as a playmat. Left: Hippychick saw the largest sales uplift during the pandemic in toys designed to keep little ones entertained.

other family members or friends, creating sustainable products that last a lifetime.” Another important consideration for many, is space, as Paul clarifies: “In order to accommodate children’s variety of toys, parents are demanding more storage than ever before - and they need it to work in the smallest of spaces. Space-saving is certainly an area we always look to keep innovating for our consumers. “From secret storage in the headboards, to additional drawers and trundles that slide under every bed, there’s always a clever way to make the most of that unused space and we know this is important to our customers.” When all of these factors have been taken into consideration, it’s social media, influencers and celebrities that the industry is turning to as the key to marketing success. All the companies agreed that these channels have overtaken lifestyle magazines and the like. Alex concludes: “I believe the influence mainly stems from social media now. Influencers, celebrities and brands showcasing their beautiful homes to their thousands of followers is definitely going to make an impact. With the ability to create virtual ‘mood boards’, online is the main (and possibly only) place millennials and younger go for inspiration.”

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Award Winning Sleep Products Rockit rocks any pram or stroller, whilst Zed soothes babies to sleep, just like the car. Find out more at

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Ickle Bubble has introduced the Pembrey Collection, offering parents versatility to create the nursery of dreams for their little one, whatever the style. It’s available in three different colourways including White, Ash Grey and Grey & White Trend, and offers parents a choice of a full textured oak design or alternatives that include contemporary white detailing. The set comprises seven pieces of high quality, beautifully made furniture and each item can be bought individually, or in a variety of bundle options. Tel: 01554 707022



Zed from Rockit has clever technology which recreates soothing low frequency vibrations that are known to send babies to sleep. Parents can simply place Zed on the mattress by baby’s feet and press the snooze button. As the finely tuned vibrations ripple through the mattress they also generate soothing sounds, comforting baby and encouraging a deep sleep. It also features a portable nightlight, plus an all-night mode, six calming vibration modes and is suitable to use from birth. Tel: 07588 717000

Chicco has expanded its much loved Next2Me range with the launch of Next2Me Air. The latest addition to the award-winning collection is designed with a new transparent mesh panelling on all sides of the crib to promote airflow, breathability and keep little ones cool throughout the night, as well as allowing parents to see baby at all times. Available in Dark Grey and Stone, it’s suitable for babies from birth to six months. Tel: 0208 9536627

JOIE The roomie and roomie glide from Joie give side-by-side closeness, so parents can enjoy every waking moment of those newborn nights. With lightweight frames, roomie and roomie glide both feature a simple to use sliding side panel that lifts and lowers easily with just one hand. With ten tummy tilt positions, they also both incline helping baby to comfortably digest their bedtime snack. With eleven height adjustments, the roomie and roomie glide will fit almost any bed perfectly and the wheels allow it to be moved easily around. Tel: 01889 808900

CUDDLECO The Clara furniture set from Cuddleco has classic curves with a modern, contemporary look, function and style. The Clara cot bed is suitable from birth to around five years and has three mattress positions and easily converts into a toddler bed. The Clara three drawer dresser offers style, storage and function. The unit comes complete with a removable changing station, transforming the changing unit into a chest of drawers. The Clara wardrobe has two removable hanging rails and a deep base drawer to provide plenty of space. The set comes in an all-white finish, or a white and ash trim. Tel: 0161 7025062

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! w o n p i h s o t e l Availab

Images provided by our growing online community

Cleverly designed to convert from cot to a junior bed, for style that lasts for years to come. Stock now in across multiple colours and styles.

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The BM1760 Video Baby Monitor from Spear & Jackson has been designed with the very latest technology and has a range of enhanced features to give total peace of mind whether monitoring baby from inside the home or when outdoors enjoying the garden. Comprising a baby camera and parent monitor units with two mains power adaptors the BM1760 key features include a pan, tilt and zoom camera to capture the perfect view of baby and night vision, so parents can still see baby even when the nursery is dark or at night. Tel: 0114 2814242



The Dreamer Bedside Travel Crib from Red Kite Baby is the new updated version of an old favourite, but with the additional feature of including a drop side to allow for bedside safe sleeping. The drop side means baby can co sleep next to parents allowing for strong bonds to develop. Supplied with a newborn bassinette for young babies and is easy to fit to the main travel crib. Tel: 01454 326555

The Purflo Sleep Tight Baby Bed is the latest innovation in safe, independent sleep and is the only of its kind to be tested and certified safe for overnight sleep. Winner of the 2021 Indy Best Buy in 2021 for the Best Baby Nest, the Sleep Tight Baby Bed is putting the spotlight back on safety. Featuring Purflo’s signature breathable mesh panels and materials, the baby bed is available in four designs. Air can safely circulate through the fully breathable mesh base and sides meaning little ones can breathe easily all night. Tel: 01384 298531

BOORI The Natty collection from Boori includes the Guarded Single Bed, Single Loft Bed and Single Bunk Bed. The pieces are designed to grow with the child so can either be purchased individually or combined with conversion kits to adapt them. For example, the Natty Single Bunk Bed comes with everything included so that it can be used as a guarded single bed then later converted into a loft or bunk bed. Or, the customer can purchase the Natty Guarded Single Bed, then later purchase the loft bed, or bunk bed conversion kits. Tel: 01635 295671

THE CHILDREN’S FURNITURE COMPANY Dreams do come true with an amazing new range of themed beds from The Children’s Furniture Company. Providing the perfect balance of fun and functional, the Treehouse Bunk Bed with slide, combines play and sleep in a tree house loft style bed, which has a platform and slide included in the fun. Available in eight colour options, this incredibly fun, themed bed will create memories to last a lifetime. Tel: 0843 289 2646

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SECTOR FOCUS Inset: Janod has seen a rise in demand for its imaginative and role-play products.


The pandemic has brought about a huge shift in how a day looks for a preschooler – spending months without their peers, they have been forced to look to other forms of play and other people to play with, meaning they’re missing out on some significant social experiences. As things begin to open up again, PPS discovers why imaginative and creative play is more important than ever.


lay is a child’s work,” declares Gary Pope, co-founder and ceo of family marketing agency, Kids Industries. “What children have done is swap peers for parents and this is the first time in modern history – since WW2, in fact – that children have gone without a structured, formal day, whether in nursery or the early years unit, for such an extended period. And that means they’ve

not been socialising. And this is perhaps more important for preschoolers than any other group.” Gary continues: “Creative and imaginative play allows the children to be in the moment, to make sense of the world they are experiencing and to be whatever and wherever they can imagine. This is one of the most important ways our understanding of the world around us develops. Now more than ever we need to give our children creative and imaginative play opportunities.” RISE IN DEMAND This is good news for those suppliers which have a healthy roster of imaginative and creative play lines. Janod has launched over 200 new products this year, with Neil Montgomery, UK commercial director at Juratoys, telling PPS that imaginative play is key for children’s development and confidence. “The milestones children achieve are always at the forefront of the designer's mind when inventing new toys,” he says. “Over the last year we have seen a rise in the demand for imaginative and role-play products. Janod has a wonderful range of cookers, market

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Web: Tel: 01205 260 384


order B2B at

Spring Fair 5L34 | Spielwarenmesse Hall 3 D30



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littleCONCEPTS - proud partners of:

Candylab | Plan Toys | Makii | MOLUK |

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SECTOR FOCUS stools, DIY tools, doctors’ kits and many more to keep little ones entertained and educated while having fun. Children have missed out on so much over this unusual time and parents are working hard to replace what they may have experienced at school, nursery and playgroups.” Phil Cassidy, md of Casdon, says that imaginative play allows children to come up with their own rules, games and stories at a time when they’re out of their usual routine and may be feeling anxious or unsure. “Imaginative play has a varied range of benefits for young children - from encouraging creativity to helping with problem solving and communication skills,” he offers. “Casdon products are child-sized versions of items that adults may already use within the household. They allow the children to imitate the grown-ups and ‘help out’ in the home through role-play while also developing their imaginative and practical skills. “If retailers can show that they relate to and understand the role that parents have in their children’s play at home, and place emphasis on how this kind of play can benefit children’s development too – perhaps through enhanced ‘home-corner’ categories and sections – parents and give-givers will be able to clearly see the benefit of having products such as these in their home.”

To help keep this momentum, the company ran a campaign to encourage children to get creative during the third lockdown, making thank you cards for teachers, home-schooling parents and pictures for Easter. The campaign coincided with the launch of Little Brian Chunkie Paint Sticks range. “Children love to make things for other people and this was a simple way of helping them make something that might be sent to people they haven’t been able to see for a long time, like grandparents for example,” says Lindsay. Le Toy Van, meanwhile, has further strengthened its selection of imaginative play products – including its Honeybake collection - all of which are in gender neutral designs and are made to inspire “free and creative play”, says Alice King, the company’s digital marketing manager. “At a time when we’ve been confined indoors more than ever, we believe it’s more important for children to be able to escape, imagine and still be able to find the magical moments in the everyday that they would be missing out on,” Alice tells PPS. “Imaginative play is a wonderful way to teach children about the world around them, particularly preparing them for social interactions later in life. Simple acts such as interacting with the shopkeeper during play time teaches children the nuanced social interactions we have daily and builds confidence for these scenarios.” The final word goes to Kids Industries’ Gary, who concludes: “Play prepares us, continually in fact, to be the people we are destined to become and nowhere is this more important than in the preschooler.”

“Now more than ever we need to give our children creative and imaginative play opportunities.” Gary Pope, ceo, Kids Industries

FINDING MAGICAL MOMENTS Lindsay Hardy, marketing director at Trends UK, says that demand for creative products such as Little Brian’s Paint Sticks “went through the roof ” during the first lockdown, as parents searched for ways to keep children entertained that didn’t involve screens.

Left: Le Toy Van is further growing its Honeybake imaginative play collection this year. Above: Casdon’s products allow children to imitate their parents with lines such as the Henry and Hetty Cleaning Trolleys. Right: Demand for Little Brian’s Paint Sticks went ‘through the roof’ during the first lockdown.

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Children will love bringing their HABA dolls with them wherever they go! Whether attending a party, strolling around the park, or going to bed, these dolls are perfect for children who like to pretend play and let their imaginations roam. They will love dressing the dolls in various clothes or taking them around in a doll stroller. HABA have a wide variety of dolls available, so there’s something for every child - soft fabric dolls, cute baby dolls, and lifelike play dolls. Distributed in the UK by Amaroni. Tel: 01205 260384



This Veterinary Set from Bigjigs Toys has everything young veterinarians need to nurse sick teddies or poorly animals back to health. Using the stethoscope, children can listen to their patient’s heart, check their temperature with the thermometer and even take a look in their ears with the otoscope. This extensive pretend play set comes completely plastic free in an easy to store carry bag. Tel: 01303 212691

This wooden doughnut box full of delicious, realistic looking wood doughnuts, is perfect for sharing! Ideal for introducing the concept of choice and sharing and great for tea parties. It encourages creative and imaginative role play. The set is made from high quality, responsibly sourced materials and conforms to current European safety standards. Tel: 01303 212691

LITTLE BRIAN A very exciting new line joins the award-winning Little Brian Paint Sticks range this spring. At four times the size of a regular Paint Stick, Chunkie Paint Sticks are ideal for outdoor artwork including pebble painting which is a craze that is set to continue. Perfect for larger art creations, they can be used on concrete, flagstones, pavements and pebbles and they easily wash off outdoor surfaces with water. Available in 12 colours. Tel: 01702 208175

INFANTINO Infantino introduces the brand new 3-in-1 Grow with Me Tummy Time Piano, a musical masterpiece that will have little ones kicking for joy. Suitable from birth, this sensory stimulating piano has three ways to play, including in the cot, kick and play piano and tummy time sit and play, this toy truly grows with the child. It features 20 melodies and sounds and encourages sensory exploration and tactile development, as well as promoting gross motor development and early crawling. Email:

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Please visit to view the full range, or if you would like one of the sales team to contact you, please call 01242 244500

Orange Tree Toys is so excited to announce the upcoming release of its brand new, completely sustainable collection. The wooden range is themed around a favourite for all preschoolers - Jungle Animals! The eco-friendly Jungle Animal range has been designed with sustainability in mind, to ensure that the beautiful animals and plants of the jungles are protected. The toys are made entirely out of wood from sustainable forests, and the packaging is all fully recyclable using minimal plastic, and where plastic is used, it is PET, 100% recyclable plastic. The collection of toys includes all the favourites from Orange Tree Toys, including skittles,

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pull alongs, and puzzles, as well as plenty of new additions, such as the delightful Stacking Jungle Animals! The Stacking Jungle Animals is a beautiful set of brightly painted wooden Jungle Animals, perfect for stacking up and knocking back down, as well as imaginative play. The animals come with a handy drawstring bag, perfect for storing away. The range is packaged in beautifully designed boxes to compliment the collection. With bright colours and lovely illustrations, any of these toys would make a perfect gift for a little one, and look absolutely gorgeous on any shop shelf! Sure to be best sellers, this range is available for preorder now, for delivery from May.

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NEW PRODUCTS The latest products available from Hippychick

DUSKY PINK CELLULAR BLANKETS Brand new from the end of April 2021, Hippychick has expanded its 100% natural cotton cellular blanket offering. Dusky Pink is the latest colour to be added to the collection giving parents an overall choice of five stunning tones. An essential for all new babies, the blanket makes a perfect gift and is beautifully presented in simple, 100% recyclable packaging.


BLUE MYCUDDLY myHummy has taken a child’s favourite comforting cuddly toy and paired it with the sleep saving humming heart. It’s shaped like a classic newborn comforter, ideal for soothing and snuggling up to brand new little ones, but with a piece of hidden magic to help babies sleep. The myHummy Humming Heart is hidden in the myCuddly’s head and operates just like the classic myHummy bears, with Sleep Sensor and Bluetooth options. The myCuddly features sensory details and even a handy tie on one of the corners so a dummy or teether can be attached.


Part of Nattou’s newest plush pink collection - Sasha the Penguin and Pauline the Bunny - Hippychick welcomes a brand new beautiful Penguin Rocker. Designed to provide endless hours of fun. The Penguin’s wings are ideal for hanging on to, although the seat does come complete with a safety harness. It is a very stable rocking toy and the wooden base has stoppers on it to prevent it from toppling over. Not only will little ones love playing on this rocker it will also help develop their motor skills.

A brand new walker that’s like nothing ever seen before. The new Robot Walker from Classic World will mesmerise little ones endlessly. The magnetic arms can be moulded into any shape, the height can be changed so it grows with the child, and the brake can be adjusted on the wheel to limit walking speed. With many colourful, playful features, this walker is set to be a huge hit. Due at Hippychick towards the end of May 2021.

DËNA – NEON SUN Neon Sun is the latest edition to Hippychick’s Dëna range. Available in neon or pastel, the four piece silicone toy offers limitless unstructured play. It’s made from platinum silicone, making it really hard-wearing and safe to be nibbled on. Toddlers will enjoy seeing what different shapes they can make and the durable design will stand up to any throwing, bending and kicking too! Dëna sun is ideal for playing inside, outside, in the bath, for crafts and even to create shapes while baking.

Hippychick • Tel: 01278 434440 •

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TM and © 2021 Sesame Workshop. Sunny Bunnies © 2021 Digital Light Studios LLC. BBC logo © and TM BBC 1996. BBC Earth logo © and TM BBC 2008. Licensed by BBC Studios.

+44 (0) 1268 567317

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Gloucester House Basildon Essex SS14 3BX UK

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Nana’s Manners continues to build on its mission to make mealtimes easy. Following the successful launch of its three stages that break down this learning journey into three simple steps, Nana’s Manners is now expanding its feeding range with exciting new product lines. All the ranges have been developed around children’s learning, co-ordination and fine motor skill development, approved by experts and used by paediatric and healthcare professionals. Email:



Youngsters will love this new fun and interactive talking Where’s Wally? plush, from Fizz Creations. Simply hide Wally and let the children listen out for his voice as they try to hunt him down and discover his hiding spot. Pre-order to secure stock today. Tel: 01903 327006

Whole families can have fun with these 150 piece double-sided character puzzles from Fizz Creations. The mystery puzzle sets come complete with two pairs of magic glasses to help players see hidden objects in the image. They are available in a Trolls and a Minions option. Pre-order to secure stock today. Tel: 01903 327006

CYBEX The perfect city stroller or travel companion, CYBEX’s Eezy S Twist is now available in a Lux version featuring a stunning silver frame. The Eezy S Twist can be used as a parent-facing and front-facing stroller from birth up until four years. With just one hand, parents can easily turn the seat to position their little one outward or towards them. Compact and convenient, the seat unit can be used in the full lieflat position from birth without the addition of a newborn pack. Tel: 0207 4264938

BEABA The Babycook Neo baby food maker, from Beaba is now available in a brand new colourway - Eucalyptus. Trimmed with a pale pink and featuring a coordinating white blender, this modern and helpful piece of equipment can enhance any kitchen worktop. It’s currently the only baby food maker on the market that comes with a large glass bowl and increased capacity stainless steel steam basket, which means that parents can prepare 33% more ingredients in one go. Email:

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Sleek and practical full Travel System including 0+ infant Carrier Car Seat

Suitable from birth to an upper weight of 22kgs

Set the

PACE Adjustable stroller handle height options

For more information call us now on 01454 326 555 or at 72_PPS_April 2021.indd 1

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Introducing the new Maxi-Cosi 360 Family rotating car seat system - the ultimate travel solution for busy parents juggling family life. This family of rotating car seats, suitable from birth up to four years, is designed to help parents get their children into their car seats quickly and easily as the needs of their children evolve. The FamilyFix 360 base allows for quick and easy installation of the Pebble 360 and Pearl 360 car seats. Tel: 0208 2360707



The Micro Hopper from Micro Scooters delivers twice the fun, converting from an inflatable hopper for bouncing action, to a smart ride-on toy. Its unique ergonomic design means kids improve their balance and coordination as they play. Hopper’s inflatable main body connects simply to a lightweight chassis with 360-degree non-marking PU wheels. Lightweight and easy to transport so it can accompany the family wherever they go. Tel: 0333 3201030

The Joie multiply 6in1 highchair has every mode imaginable from six months, up to six years. Starting from a baby mode highchair up to a maxed-out highchair, then converting to a mini table with every mealtime milestone in between; finally, converting to a booster seat, portable booster and toddler play table. It features five different height adjustments, three recline positions and a threeposition footrest, allowing parents to easily adjust its fit to varying table or island heights. Tel: 01889 808900

KIDCENTRAL The team at ergobaby are the innovators of natural, organic sleepwear for babies and children up to six years old. Its Cocoon Swaddle Bags are suitable from birth and designed to be easy and safe to use and comforting for baby. The simple zip-up design will keep baby snug and securely swaddled without the need for complicated wrapping. Available in three tog sizes and a variety of colourways. Now distributed in the UK by Kidcentral. Tel: 01530 569470

ICANDY Reflecting iCandy’s founding principles of quality, heritage, innovation and style, the British brand has launched the new iCandy Orange. Unveiling new premium fabrics and unparalleled functionality updates, the new iCandy Orange is ready for any family and eventuality. It offers the ultimate single pushchair for first-time parents, a dependable double for a baby and toddler, or a spacious twin that can accommodate two full-sized carrycots. Tel: 01767 604400

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The Leveret IN NUMBERS

Above: Tonies has been a best seller during the pandemic.

LOCKDOWN LOVE “I guess our hero product during this last year of lockdown has been the Toniebox Starter kit and all of the Tonies characters.”

Children’s wear and gift retailer, The Leveret, is based in Amersham, Buckinghamshire, and has been trading since 2012. Owner, Susie Crook, prides herself in offering a superb mix of classic, contemporary and exciting designs, which she finds when trawling trade shows at every opportunity.




“Comfort clothing like leggings and t-shirts” “We used to sell a lot of smocked dresses but these have taken a back seat over the last few years – they will come back again though hopefully.”



Above: The shop window is refreshed every week to ten days.



“Our oldest supplier would be Kissy Kissy. Our newest would be Jellycat.”

Above: Susie says photos of her are as rare as those of a unicorn. Her colleague has been busy refreshing the store over lockdown.


“We have been trading since 23 March 2012 – so nine years in total.” Above: The Amersham store is about 680 sq Leveret hops.


“At the moment, due to Easter, our bestseller is our ‘rabbit in a carrot’ toy. But our all-time bestsellers are any clothes by the Spanish brand, Mayoral.”

The Leveret has embraced online selling during the pandemic via its new improved website. “We offer free local delivery and click and collect, both of which have been very popular.” The shop’s customers are still largely local people, though: “They have loved me turning up at their houses with their orders or a selection of clothes for them to choose from. We have reached many customers countrywide too with our Instagram and Facebook marketing.”


• “ We are a team of two although I have two other lovely ladies I can call on if it’s busy or holiday time.” • “ O ur average spend currently online only, is around £45.” • “ There were four boxes in my last delivery.” • “ O ur window display is refreshed every week to ten days.” • “ The shop is about 680sq Leveret hops!”

Above: The Flower Valley Esther Playsuit from Frugi is Susie’s favourite spring outfit.

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