Progressive Preschool November 2021

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The For Preschool Products and Retailers ISSUE 54 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021 TheB2B B2BPublication Publication For Preschool Products and Retailers

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PreschoolNews Advert 165 x 245_Layout 1 04/01/2018 16:20 Page 1

LEADER

NOVEMBER 2021

THIS MONTH Follow us at:

@Prog_Preschool

PreschoolNews Advert 165 x 245_Layout 1 04/01/2018 16:20 Page 1

@Prog_Preschool

PreschoolNews.net 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: Indie retailers are working harde-newsflash to bring shoppers backportal to the high will street. new website and provide the very latest news, views, and Grosvenor House Hotel. The day was 4 started with a analysis across preschool a lovely product chance to don posh frocks bang for the the nursery and catch up with many that we industry, as we all and retail sector. haven’t seen for so long, while also finally came back

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celebrating the resilience, innovation together in real life at Harrogate and downright International Nursery Fair. Launching with an unrivalled emailbrilliance of our industry. Congratulations to all the The reaction to this year’s show subscriber base of 12,087worthy readers, winnersaand finalists. has been overwhelmingly positive, There’s with retailers and suppliers alike twice weekly newsflash will landstill more to come, too, as we are just days away from Brand commenting on how productive the in good the itinboxes ofLicensing everyone Europe returning to ExCeL eventdirectly was, and how was to London. In this issue, we’ve found out finallyin getthis back fast-paced together face-to-face industry. what some of the key licensors in the and see each other – and products – modern, easy to navigate preschool space are planning for the in theAflesh. event, and there is plenty of exciting After returning will home,provide we spoke a central website news incoming, with a mixture of to the show organisers, who were resource the trade too, offering classic brands providing much needed so pleased with thefor outcome, that familiarity and comfort, alongside a they news, already have a date for your in-depth articles, an industry number of new, exciting properties 2022 diary, as the fair will return jobs board, retail analysis,ready digital issues of to capture imaginations. to Harrogate from 16-18 October The likes of Clangers, Hey Duggee, next year, before moving back to a Progressive Preschool, and much much more. Miffy, Bing and The Gruffalo, among springtime slot in 2023. We also chatted to some key buyers, whomagazine sung the praises of the The and awards do a great job in fair and were delighted to see so joining the dots between toy, nursery, gift, much innovation in the industry. One even apparel, said they weren’t able to get publishing, and of course licensing around all of the halls as there was so this digital offering will further enhance muchand to see. The excitement didn’tas endathere, our position trade media partner that though, as at time of writing we were offers a tangible response to advertising getting ready to crown the winners Above: BLE is returning to London’s ExCeL of theinvestment. Progressive Preschool Awards from 17-19 November, while a virtual event will follow on 30 November and 1 December. 2021 in a glittering ceremony at the

Max Publishing Ltd, United House, PreschoRoad, olNews.net 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 www.max-publishing.co.uk 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. PreschoolNews.net is published by preschool sector experts, for preschool trade experts.

others, are continuing to grow, while newcomers such as Bluey and the annual return of Magic Light Preschoolnews.net is published by preschool sector experts… Picture’s Christmas Day Donaldson/ Scheffler special, are bringing fresh characters to the space. Licensors are expanding their hard lines offering, while also making the most of the world opening up again, with some exceptional experiential events. Once the shows and ceremonies are over, we’re looking ahead to Christmas. Despite the ongoing supply issues, which continue to put pressure on manufacturers and distributors during such a key period, the industry remains positive and retailers are doing all they can to overcome any shortages. Having caught up with a number indies, it seems they’re working Allof advertising on the website is hard to bring shoppers in-store to duplicated to each and begin their purchasing early, with every a range of events and incentives. It newsflash, giving advertisers was heartening to hear that many huge direct reportvisibility a continuingand consumer shift impact to shopping local and returning to to retail buyers. the high street. We wish everyone a successful Christmas trading period. ADVERTISING AND COMMERCIAL:

EDITORIAL AND CONTENT:

Jo Pilcher jop@max-publishing.co.uk

Jacqui Parr jacquip@max-publishing.co.uk

Rob Willis robw@max-publishing.co.uk

Sam Loveday saml@max-publishing.co.uk

PreschoolNews.net is published Progressive byThe preschool sector experts, for Preschool Team Samantha Loveday, Willis, preschool tradeRob experts. Jo Pilcher and Katie Roberts-Mason.

For the latest news visit PreschoolNews.net

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WHAT'S INSIDE

CONTENTS

Big Interview: Drew 06 News 40 The The latest updates from across Pearson International the preschool industry.

13 GfK How the baby care market is continuing its recovery through 2021.

Parents Insights 15 What the audio boom in the family space means for preschool brands.

16

Progressive Preschool Awards 2021: The Finalists

Columnist 39 Guest The Point.1888’s Bethan

Garton on understanding the different audiences within the preschool market.

Big Retail Interview: 46 The Character.com Nursery 49 The Support Group

PPS finds out how the Facebook groups help make the nursery trade stronger together.

55

Preschool Licensing Special

55

73 Hot from Harrogate Profile 81 Executive Neil Montgomery, UK commercial director at Juratoys, in the hotseat.

91

Retailer in Numbers

Odd Socks, Sevenoaks, Kent.

73

For the latest news visit PreschoolNews.net order B2B at littleconcepts.co.uk

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NEWS TOP STORY

“We have to encourage shoppers to return to our high streets”

D

Julia Marsen, owner of Ottie and Christmas to get people through espite the The Bea, added: “We do an annual the door.” difficulties faced late night Christmas shop for our Many are seeing a continuing due to supply local customers and there has been shift towards shopping local, as issues, reported a lot of interest in these events. A Julie Logan, owner of The Olive shortages and the continuing lot of our customers are popping a Branch Toyshop, told PPS: “We’ve uncertainty around Covid-19 really felt the warmth of our few extra bits in their basket when restrictions, preschool retailers local customers and a general they come in as a gentle start to are working hard to entice their Christmas shopping.” feeling of wanting to support customers back into stores to local, small businesses shop for Christmas gifts Because we fear supply chain rather than travelling to in a bid to provide a busier city centres.” much-needed boost for problems, we’ve incentivised Karen Bridle, owner of the industry. our customers to shop early for BabyB Store, agreed: “Early “Because we fear supply chain problems, Christmas – we’ve been offering 25% indications are showing that people are Christmas we’ve incentivised our off all toys for the last two weeks shopping early and still customers to shop early enjoying supporting the for Christmas – we’ve Simon Wilson, owner of Piccola local independent stores. been offering 25% off We have definitely seen an increase Many are enjoying being able all toys for the last two weeks,” on gifts sales in the last six weeks.” to shop in person again, as Hellen explained Simon Wilson, owner Despite early interest from Stirling-Baker, owner of Small Stuff, of Piccola. “This has worked, consumers, retailers are reporting explained: “My local customers as the discounts make it easier mixed experiences with delivery are loving coming in to browse for people to buy now rather of stock. Some, like Nicola Amies, and the ‘experience’ of shopping; than in December. We all have owner of Sea Whistle, have we’ve also got plenty of exciting to try to encourage shoppers managed to avoid delays: “So far events happening in the run up to to return to our high streets.”

Ickle Bubba scoops key award win Ickle Bubba has been named the Fastest Growing Business in the Manufacturing and Engineering category at the 2021 Wales Fast Growth 50 Awards. With growth of 369% between 2018 and 2020, the nursery designer, manufacturer and supplier also finished in sixth place overall. Launched in 2013, the Swanseabased company has quickly grown from a team of 11, to an international supplier operating across seven countries. Ickle Bubba recently launched into France and Germany,

shortly after its debut in Australia and Spain, and moved to a new HQ with a 45,000 sq ft warehousing facility. The team at Ickle Bubba has ambitious plans to become a globally recognised and market leading children’s brand in the future. Fran Vaughan, ceo and founder at Ickle Bubba, commented: “Having achieved consecutive triple digit growth for each of the last four years, the Ickle Bubba team have grown from a team of 11 based in Wales to an international team of 64 people across seven different countries. With

128 stockists in the UK alone; we are grateful for our continued growth and believe we will continue to do so by staying true to Ickle Bubba’s founding principles, to deliver great products at brilliant value.” Above: The Ickle Bubba team are proud to be recognised in the Wales Fast Growth 50.

For the latest news visit PreschoolNews.net

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KEEPING YOU UP TO DATE WITH THE LATEST STORIES

Orange Tree Toys readies new launches

I’ve not had supply challenges, though I have sourced mainly from the UK and Europe with the latter being goods wholly fabricated in the EU to avoid import tax hassles.” While others are still awaiting stock, as Simon explained: “We’ve had European suppliers we have worked with for some time saying they can’t supply the UK any more

because the increased costs and workload created by Brexit makes it no longer worth it, while household name suppliers have told us they won’t be able to make further deliveries to the UK until late November.” Above: Indies are planning Christmas events to bring consumers back into stores.

Orange Tree Toys has launched a host of new product, as well as revealing new recyclable packaging across its range. The new eco-friendly Jungle Animal range has been designed with sustainability in mind, with toys made out of FSC-certified wood. The collection includes skittles, pull-alongs and puzzles among others, all featuring animals such as an orangutan, leopard, elephant and tiger to name a few. The company also has new additions to both its Peter Rabbit and Disney Classic Pooh collections including a block puzzle, shape sorters, stacking games and a wooden Peter Rabbit Advent Calendar. Meanwhile, the new recyclable packaging sees fully closed boxes with the products wrapped safely inside in brown paper. The packaging will be coming through as a rolling change, with Orange Tree Toys hoping to have all packaging fully recyclable by the end of 2022. Below: Orange Tree Toys hopes to have all packaging fully recyclable by the end of 2022.

Toys R Us and Babies R Us returning to UK The Toys R Us and Babies R Us names will be heading back into the UK retail landscape from 2022. Toys R Us ANZ has secured an exclusive licence with WHP Global – the parent company of TRU and

Babies R Us – to run digital and physical retail for both brands in the UK. Toys R Us ANZ runs the Australian ecommerce websites for both brands having acquired the brands from Hobby Warehouse Group in November 2020. The team plans to begin online sales to UK shoppers over the next several months, initially from existing operations in Australia, while it works to establish local teams, offices and logistics facilities during 2022 and 2023.

For the latest news visit PreschoolNews.net

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NEWS

KEEPING YOU UP TO DATE WITH THE LATEST STORIES

TOP STORY

Natural Baby Shower moves to new HQ

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ollowing a growth from 30 to 75 staff in the past 12 months, sustainable retailer, Natural Baby Shower has moved to a new premises encompassing a 43,000 sq ft warehouse with an open plan office space for around 100 staff. The move is the fifth in Natural Baby Shower’s history, and the retailer has future proofed with a larger space to house more growth in the future. The new facility is energy efficient in line with the retailer’s environmentally friendly ethos and is equipped with recycled furniture and sustainable materials throughout, as well as carefully designed interiors, even featuring bespoke branded wallpaper. Plans are in place to fit out a new virtual shopping area to enable Natural Baby Shower to grow its recent partnership with

Go Instore, offering an enhanced shopping experience online. There will also be themed room sets within the offices to allow the marketing team to film and create content on-site. A car seat fitting service is being implemented at the offices, whereby consumers will be able to visit the car park to meet on-site experts who will fit seats on-site, alongside a new click and collect offering for local shoppers.

The new HQ pays homage to the roots of the business, with meeting rooms named North and South Island in a nod to the New Zealand heritage and the canteen called The Kitchen Table, in tribute to where the story began. Clifton Vaughan, co-founder, commented: “We are thrilled to see our dreams become a reality with this move. It has been a fantastic team effort, with a special thank you to the team at 3Space who simply transformed the building. I think it’s fair to say we could never have imagined how far we’ve come over the years, with this new warehouse and office space being our biggest achievement to date.”

Inset: The new HQ pays homage to the roots of the business.

Primark grows Disney Baby offering The longstanding relationship between Primark and Disney continues to grow with new products, characters and experiences. A Winnie the Pooh collection recently launched within the babywear category featuring a wide range of clothing for babies and toddlers, as well as lifestyle products like toys and nursery interiors. All products also fall under the Primark Cares label, meaning they are made from either organic, sustainable or recycled materials. Disney Baby continues to be a customer favourite and there are now Disney Baby products available at all Primark stores. The Winnie the Pooh offer also extends to womenswear, homeware and beauty. In addition, it’s not only Disney products that are new to the Primark offer – inspired by Mickey and friends,

the retailer opened a new pop-up café in October at its Lakeside store. Below: Disney Baby products are now available at all Primark stores.

For the latest news visit PreschoolNews.net

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NEWS

KEEPING YOU UP TO DATE WITH THE LATEST STORIES

TOP STORY

My Carry Potty expands product offering

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eveloped by Amanda Jenner, the UK’s potty-training expert, My Little Training Pants are an effective way to potty train, providing the confidence to help transition from nappies to pants. My Little Training Pants are designed with a protective water-resistant layer enclosed between soft, absorbent fabric with elasticated leg openings. The pants will catch small accidents, while still allowing the child to understand the feeling of wetness, which will help them know when it is time to use the potty or toilet. The stretchy elastic waistband and comfy underwear-like fit are designed to help children

gain independence by pulling them up and down themselves. Available in bright characters to match the My Carry Potty designs, My Little Training Pants come in packs of three. Amanda commented: “I developed the My Little Training Pants due to the increase of the age of potty training and I believe with my 20 years of hands on experience, children potty train quicker if they make the transition from nappies to pants from the offset, so it does not give them mixed messaging. “Consumers have been asking me when will I be bringing out my

own potty training pants for many years now, but I wanted to get these perfect and wanted to use my cute characters to encourage little ones to want to wear them.” Above: The bright, colourful designs of My Little Training Pants match the characters on the bestselling My Carry Potty range.

Frugi unveils first TV ad Ethical and sustainable children’s clothing company, Frugi, has launched its first ever TV commercial, which has been created in partnership with independent creative company, Friendly Giants. The new ad centres on the creative concept ‘love the planet you play on’ and uses a bright, fun and playful execution to attract viewers. The storyline introduces Frugi products which come to life when on their own in a bedroom, where they chat about product features in a subtle way. The creative process in designing the ad marks a step change in communication where viewers will be Left: The new ad takes viewers on a brand journey where they learn about the ethical core of Frugi.

taken on a brand journey where they will learn about the planet positive and ethical core of the brand over time. First aired in mid-October, the ad will run until 14 November on All 4 on Demand TV as well as the brand’s owned media channels. Head of marketing at Frugi, Lara Smrtnik said: “Our first TV ad marks a very exciting milestone for us as it is testament to Frugi’s fast-expanding brand presence. Being able to work with Friendly Giants to help bring our vision to life and reach a new audience has been wonderful. “Through our ad, viewers will be able to see our iconic products in a fun and memorable way. We hope that this ad inspires All 4 viewers and their families to love the planet they play on.”

For the latest news visit PreschoolNews.net

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RESEARCH

GfK’s client insight manager, Marco Salerno takes a look at how the baby care market is continuing its recovery through 2021

BABY CARE: THE RECOVERY CONTINUES

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he baby care market matches the wider UK economy in continuing to recover through 2021. Total sales value has risen 9% over January to August 2021 compared to the same period in 2020, with volume sales also up 4%. At the same time, value over the year-to-date remains 19% down on the 2019 figures prior to the impact of the pandemic and various lockdowns, showing how there remains a long way to go to a full recovery. The more extreme growth trends lie especially with the stroller and car seat markets, both now recording strong year-on-year growth but equally remaining far smaller than their 2019 positions, linked to lockdown trends as set out in previous issues.

as +58% in April, but as this was coming off the back of an overall fall of 15% over 2020, sales again remain below their pre-Covid level. 72% of value in this market comes through the drinking category, up from 66% a year ago, and it’s these products that have outperformed the flatware and tableware areas. With the low average price of items here, the market remains hugely weighted to in-store sales despite, like everything else, a movement towards greater online selling over the lockdown periods especially. As retail footfall gradually returns this should help boost sales further over the coming months. ON A HIGH One of the best performing baby care categories tracked by GfK over 2021 to date has been highchairs, seeing a value uplift of 28% after declines in 2020 and 2019. The reverse of tableware, the share of value sales coming online as opposed to in-store stands at 89%, one of the highest rates across the entire baby care market. Even coming out of lockdown into summer, online share remained at 85% in August, with

TABLE TALK Another market that has suffered over the last two years has been baby tableware, made up of drinking (cups and tumblers), flatware (cutlery pieces and sets) and tableware (bowls, plates, bibs, mats and sets) products. Overall value here has risen 16% over the year-to-date, growth reaching as high

Total Baby Care continues to grow strongly against 2020, led by highchairs, but remains behind 2019 levels Great Britain – Baby Care

+9%

Value growth %: Year-to-date 2021 vs. 2020** Total Baby Care

9%

Baby Care* value growth over January–August 2021 vs. the same period in 2020.

28%

The gradual re-opening of the UK economy and a summer out of lockdown has helped in-store and

Highchairs: Share of value sales coming online

Highchairs Baby Tableware

16%

Highchairs: Average Selling Price

total baby care sales grow strongly on 2020. At the same time, the market remains far behind 2019, pre-Covid levels:

-19% value growth over January–August 2021 vs. same period in 2019.

81%

89%

58%

YTD 2019 YTD 2020 YTD 2021

£37

£41

£49

YTD 2019 YTD 2020 YTD 2021

GfK GB PoS Data. All figures in value GBP. **Year-to-date (YTD) figures based on January – August. *Baby Care tracked categories: Car Seats, Highchairs, Stollers, Bottles & Teats, Soothers, Teethers, Baby Tableware, Bottle Warmers & Sterilisers and Breast Feeding.

GfK ©©GfK

consumers seemingly still happy to shop online for these products and instore retailers so far unable to bring them back in large numbers. The highchair category also stands out as having the sharpest increase in average selling price, up 20% over January to August 2021 compared to the previous year, with the average spend on a model now at £49. This also marks a 34%, or £12, uplift on 2019 with the outperformance of premium brands leading the change. These brands, focusing towards the >£100 price points, will have benefited from greater visibility with the switch to online while also releasing new ranges over the last two years which have succeeded in drawing consumer attention. This also aligns with wider trends across various markets whereby consumers, on average, have been far more willing to spend premium over lockdown as for many, levels of disposable income have risen at the same time as the number of places where that income can be spent has reduced. Equally, as consumer spend moves back towards hospitality, entertainment, travel and other recovering industries, this will threaten levels of high-end baby care spend into 2022. Moreover, on the back of concerns about rising prices for fuel and food, the growth in headline inflation, tax hikes, empty shelves and the end of the furlough scheme, September has already highlighted challenges for overall consumer spending amid a potential cost of living crisis. Topline baby care will continue its recovery on 2020, but a return to pre-Covid spending levels looks set to take a little longer.

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

AUDIO BOOM IN THE FAMILY SPACE

Latest trend data from The Insights Family is showing a healthy growth in making/listening to music increasing as a family hobby.

T

he kids and parents’ entertainment ecosystem is going through an audio boom, creating exciting opportunities for your marketing, content and product development. Music was already a huge part of children’s lives, with 90% of UK children aged three to five often listening to music and audio with their parents, spending just over five hours per week on average. Since January 2021, there has also been a +21% increase in making/listening to music as a family hobby. The increased ownership of smart speakers is driving the trend further. Our data also shows that these devices are now in over four in 10 homes in the UK (44%). The UK has the second highest rate of smart speaker ownership globally, behind China, at +73% more than the average global rate of smart speaker ownership. The easy to use nature of voice-controlled devices gives them universal appeal but affords them popularity with preschoolers who are new to using devices. There is no need to be able to read or write with smart speakers, which makes them a simple introduction to technology for both parents and preschoolers. With more kids having access to a smart speaker device, we have also seen a 57% increase in the proportion of kids aged three-five using smart speakers

to listen to music. This makes listening to music the number one use of the device. Not only do smart speakers provide kids with an extended, more active, form of entertainment, but busy parents, too. AI-powered smart speakers can enable parents to quickly access content, news or even shop all hands-free. The abundance of smart speakers is also providing brands with an opportunity to engage with an audience in a dynamic, non-traditional way. Between April and June, BBC Sounds reported a weekly audience of 3.7 million users across its app, website and voice-activated devices. These figures are in line with our Parents Insights UK data, demonstrating that +69% more parents have listened to podcasts every day since the beginning of the year, as well as +14% more who have listened to radio stations once a day. With regards to advertising, +17%

more parents have reported trusting adverts they hear on the radio since March, making this the second most trusted location for advertising for parents. WHAT THIS MEANS TO YOU… The integration of smart speakers into the daily lives of kids and parents establishes a range of opportunities for brands within the audio content space, from creating new types of audio content to incorporating audio channels in media spend this year. The Insights Family recently announced the latest evolution of its media planning tool - the Media Mix Compass. The tool is the only real-time solution available which compares 11 media types – including audio – and up to 30,000 media channels globally. The tool enables decision makers to not just compare types of mediums such as YouTube and Radio, but to delve even deeper and compare specific channels such as KSI as a YouTube channel versus Capital. The Insights Family Media Planning Playbook is also now available. The first report of its kind, the Playbook was designed to provide brands and agencies with an update of the key trends, an understanding of the end-to-end campaign process, and the role that insights have to play in maximising ROI this Christmas. It’s available now at get. theinsightsfamily.com/mediamix

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BEST SUPERMARKET RETAILER OF PRESCHOOL PRODUCTS Criteria: Nominees could be UK-based supermarket retailers selling preschool product including nursery, toy, apparel and gift. These awards are for retailers' approach and achievements in the preschool market over the last year.

FINALISTS

Aldi

Asda

Lidl

Morrisons

Sainsbury’s Argos

Tesco

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PROGRESSIVE PRESCHOOL AWARDS 2021


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Sponsored by

BEST MULTIPLE RETAILER OF PRESCHOOL PRODUCTS Criteria: Nominees could be UK-based retailers with five or more stores, selling preschool product including nursery, toy, apparel and gift. These awards are for retailers' approach and achievements in the preschool market over the last year.

FINALISTS

Hamleys

JoJo Maman Bébé

Mamas & Papas

Smyths Toys

The Entertainer

Toy Barnhaus

PROGRESSIVE PRESCHOOL AWARDS 2021

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BEST MIXED CATEGORY RETAILER OF PRESCHOOL PRODUCTS Criteria: Nominees could be UK-based retailers specialising in other areas but also selling preschool product including nursery, toy, apparel and gift. These awards are for retailers' approach and achievements in the preschool market over the last year.

FINALISTS

Argos

B&M

Boots

Dobbies

Home Bargains

Matalan

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PROGRESSIVE PRESCHOOL AWARDS 2021


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BEST DEPARTMENT STORE RETAILER OF PRESCHOOL PRODUCTS Criteria: Nominees could be UK-based department stores selling preschool product including nursery, toy, apparel and gift. These awards are for retailers' approach and achievements in the preschool market over the last year.

FINALISTS

Bentalls, Kingston

Elys, Wimbledon

Fenwick, Newcastle

Harrods

Jarrold, Norwich

John Lewis

PROGRESSIVE PRESCHOOL AWARDS 2021

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Sponsored by

BEST ONLINE RETAILER OF PRESCHOOL PRODUCTS Criteria: Nominees could be UK-based online retailers selling preschool product including nursery, toy, apparel and gift. These awards are for retailers' approach and achievements in the preschool market over the last year.

FINALISTS

Amazon.co.uk

Argos.co.uk

Kiddies-kingdom.com Kidly.co.uk

20

Thetoyshop.co.uk PROGRESSIVE PRESCHOOL AWARDS 2021

Character.com

Studio.co.uk

Very.co.uk


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Sponsored by

BEST INDEPENDENT NURSERY RETAILER Criteria: Nominees could be UK-based retailers selling nursery product. These awards are for retailers' approach and achievements in the preschool market over the last year.

FINALISTS

A3 Baby Barn,

Babylicious,

Bumpstart Baby,

Chessington

Hoylake

Milton Keynes

Huggle,

Natural Baby Shower, Winstanleys Bagshot Pramworld,

London

Wigan

PROGRESSIVE PRESCHOOL AWARDS 2021

21


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Sponsored by

BEST INDEPENDENT APPAREL RETAILER Criteria: Nominees could be UK-based retailers selling preschool clothing and accessories. These awards are for retailers' approach and achievements in the preschool market over the last year.

FINALISTS

Little Chic,

Little Goat Gruff,

Little Yu Boutique,

Ross-On-Wye

St Ives

Manchester

Odd Socks,

The Leveret,

The Pud Store,

Beccles

Amersham

Doncaster, Mansfield & Newark

22

PROGRESSIVE PRESCHOOL AWARDS 2021


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Sponsored by

BEST INDEPENDENT TOY RETAILER Criteria: Nominees could be UK-based retailers selling toys and other play product. These awards are for retailers' approach and achievements in the preschool market over the last year.

FINALISTS

Argosy Toys,

Armadillo Toys,

Giddy Goat Toys,

Westcliffe-On-Sea

Leeds

Manchester

Kids Stuff,

Midco Toys,

The Toy Shop,

Wells

Burton On Trent

Cockermouth

PROGRESSIVE PRESCHOOL AWARDS 2021

23


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Sponsored by

BEST INDEPENDENT GIFTWARE RETAILER Criteria: Nominees could be UK-based retailers selling preschool gift product. These awards are for retailers' approach and achievements in the preschool market over the last year.

FINALISTS

Harmony At Home Ottie and the Bea, Children’s Boutique, London

Piccola, Brentwood

Haywards Heath

Sea Whistle,

Small Stuff,

Tickittyboo,

Hastings

Sheffield

Chipping Norton

24

PROGRESSIVE PRESCHOOL AWARDS 2021


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BEST PRESCHOOL APPAREL RANGE

Sponsored by

Criteria: Open to all apparel and accessories aimed at 0-5 year olds. This includes nightwear, daywear, outerwear, underwear, footwear, dress-up as well as accessories as bibs, changing bags, swimwear aids. To qualify all products entered must have launched at retail in the UK between July 2020 and July 2021.

FINALISTS

British Birds Collection Cotton Onesie

Cozy Colors Collection

from Piccalilly

from Magnet Mouse

from LÄSSIG

Matalan x That’s Not My… SS21 Collection

MORI x The Very Hungry Caterpillar Baby Childrenswear Collection

from Dennicci

Peppa Pig Team GB Daywear Range for Character.com from Aykroyds

from MORI

Waterproof Clothing Range from Dry Kids

Zog x Cribstar Loungewear Range from Cribstar PROGRESSIVE PRESCHOOL AWARDS 2021

25


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BEST PRESCHOOL TOY RANGE (12m+)

Sponsored by

Criteria: Open to all toys and games aimed at 0 – 5 year olds. To qualify all products entered must have launched at retail in the UK between July 2020 and July 2021.

FINALISTS CAT Junior Crew Vehicles

First Water Magic – Baby Ocean

from Funrise Toys

from James Galt

Funny Bunny from Ravensburger

Hey Duggee Spin and Little Lot Range ELC from Addo Play Groove DJ Duggee

Magicube Full Colour Try Me Range

from Golden Bear Products

from Geomagworld

26

PAW Patrol Moto Range from SpinMaster Toys PROGRESSIVE PRESCHOOL AWARDS 2021

PAW Patrol Range from Tonies


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BEST PRESCHOOL STEM OR EDUCATIONAL RANGE

Sponsored by

Criteria: Open to all technology-based, educational or STEM product aimed at 0-5 year olds. To qualify all products entered must have launched at retail in the UK between July 2020 and July 2021.

FINALISTS FunPlay Range

Giant Magnifying Pot

from Edx Education

from Eduk8 Worldwide

Lalaboom 3in1 Splash Ball and Educational Beads from Juratoy

Makedo Construction Toys

MathLink Cubes Numberblocks 1-10 Activity Set

PAW Patrol Electronic Learning Toys

from Bigjigs Toys

from Learning Resources

from Trends UK

Play House Make N Mend Workbench from Wilton Bradley

SmartMax My First Acrobats from Smart Toys PROGRESSIVE PRESCHOOL AWARDS 2021

27


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BEST PRESCHOOL PUBLISHING RANGE

Sponsored by

Criteria: Open to all books, comics and greeting cards aimed at 0-5 year olds. To qualify all products entered must have launched at retail in the UK between July 2020 and July 2021.

FINALISTS Baby Rhyme Time Range

Baby Touch Range by Bing Book Range from HarperCollins Ladybird

from Child’s Play International

from Penguin Random House Children’s Books

Box of Bing from Kennedy Publishing

28

CoComelon Activity Books

Fun To Learn Standalone Magazine Range

from Alligator

from Redan Publishing

Maisy 30th Anniversary Range from Walker Books PROGRESSIVE PRESCHOOL AWARDS 2021

Space Baby Range by Pat-a-Cake from Hachette Children’s Group


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Sponsored by

BEST PRESCHOOL HOME OR FURNITURE RANGE Criteria: Open to all bedding, furniture, lighting and home décor products aimed at 0-5 year olds. To qualify all products entered must have launched at retail in the UK between July 2020 and July 2021.

FINALISTS Chicco Next2Me Forever

Coverless Carefree Dinosaur Bedding

Feed Me Combi 4 in 1 Highchair

from Artsana

from Character World

from Red Kite Baby

Hey Duggee Officially Licensed Homewares Collection

Natty Cot Bed

Smoby Teepee

from Boori Europe

from Simba Smoby Toys

from Dreamtex

SnüzPod 4 Bedside Crib from Green Sheep Group

Teepee Playtime 4 Piece Play Bundle from Ickle Bubba PROGRESSIVE PRESCHOOL AWARDS 2021

29


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BEST PRESCHOOL GIFT RANGE

Sponsored by

Criteria: Open to all giftware products aimed at 0-5 year olds. To qualify all products entered must have launched at retail in the UK between July 2020 and July 2021.

FINALISTS Bigjigs Construction Train Set

Jungle Animal Collection

ffrom Bigjigs Toys

from Orange Tree Toys

Knitted Gift Sets from JoJo Maman Bébé

from Juratoys

Nattou Piu Piu Octopus

Peter Rabbit Baby Collection

from Hippychick

from Enesco

Plan Toys Piggy Banks

30

Kaloo Lapinoo

from Little Concepts

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Gardening Range from Robert Frederick

PROGRESSIVE PRESCHOOL AWARDS 2021


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Sponsored by

BEST WHEELED GOODS OR CAR SEAT RANGE Criteria: Open to all prams, pushchairs, car seats and infant carriers aimed at 0-5 year olds. To qualify all products entered must have launched at retail in the UK between July 2020 and July 2021.

FINALISTS CarGoSeat Travel Booster Seat

Gazelle S Pushchair

i-Spin 360 Car Seat

from Cybex

from Joie

from Mainetti

iZi Flex FIX i-size Car Seat

Milano Plus Travel System

Morgan i-size Car Seat

from BeSafe

from Mee-go

from Cozy N Safe

Near2Me Pushchair

Push Me Pace Travel System

from Graco

from Red Kite Baby PROGRESSIVE PRESCHOOL AWARDS 2021

31


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BEST PRESCHOOL ESSENTIALS RANGE

Sponsored by

Criteria: Open to all feeding, sleeping, travel and other essential products aimed at 0-5 year olds. To qualify all products entered must have launched at retail in the UK between July 2020 and July 2021.

FINALISTS Breathable Cot Liner

Classic Wrap from MOBY

from BreathableBaby

Flip 4-in-1 Light and Airy Convertible Carrier

ClevaBath The Baby Sink Bath from ClevaMama

My Size Urinal from Summer Infant

Nattou Silicone Tableware from Hippychick

from Infantino

32

Stages 1-3 Children’s Cutlery from Nana’s Manners PROGRESSIVE PRESCHOOL AWARDS 2021

Supreme Reusable Nappies from Bambino Mio


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Sponsored by

BEST PRESCHOOL KIDS’ LIFESTYLE RANGE Criteria: Open to all lifestyle products and accessories aimed at 0-5 year olds. To qualify all products entered must have launched at retail in the UK between July 2020 and July 2021.

FINALISTS Beatrix Potter Backpacks

Chic Mic Bioloco Kid’s Flask

Frugi x National Trust Paddling Puffins SS21 Range

from Enesco

from Blue Eyed Sun

from Frugi

Little Tikes Traveller from Ideas International

Love Monster Dress Up

Orby Swimwear Range

from Amscan International

from Orby Swim

Stainless Steel and Bamboo Garden Explorer Lunchbox from LÄSSIG

Thomas & Friends Train Track Plate Collection from Munchy Play PROGRESSIVE PRESCHOOL AWARDS 2021

33


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Sponsored by

BEST INFANT DEVELOPMENT RANGE Criteria: Open to all toys and play product aimed at 0 - 1 year olds. To qualify all products entered must have launched at retail in the UK between July 2020 and July 2021.

FINALISTS 3-in-1 Grow with Me Tummy Time Piano

Baby Go Round Twist

Dena Sun Silicone Toy

from Infantino

from Red Kite Baby

from Hippychick

ELC Blossom Farm Range

Infant Development Toy Range

Lilliputiens My First Farm

from Addo Play

from Sassy Baby

from Juratoys

34

Taf Toys Savannah Adventures Collection from Halilit PROGRESSIVE PRESCHOOL AWARDS 2021

Water Playmat from James Galt


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Sponsored by

THE MARKETING AWARD Criteria: The Marketing Award is a very special award that is open to all suppliers, distrbutors, retailers or any other company in the preschool aged sector. Crucially, it is judged based on clear measurable objectives, not budget, meaning that companies and campaigns of all sizes have an opportunity to be recognised.

FINALISTS

Acamar Films’ Bing Store launch

Green Sheep Group’s SnüzPod ‘Where Sleep Begins’ awareness campaign

BBC’s Hey Duggee ‘Parenting in 2020 Badge’ campaign

Hasbro’s Unicef x PJ Masks Bedtime Heroes campaign

Green Sheep Group with Sleep Support Month by Snüz

Hasbro’s National Children’s Gardening Week (NCGW) with Peppa Pig

PROGRESSIVE PRESCHOOL AWARDS 2021

35


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WHAT PARENTS LOVE Criteria: In a first of its kind, a new consumer award category has been revealed for the Progressive Preschool Awards, in collaboration with kids’ market intelligence specialist The Insights Family. The company – which speaks to more than half a million kids and parents every year – has asked UK parents about their favourite family/kids brands, which brands they would recommend to new parents and for the brands or products they particularly enjoy.

Sponsored by

FINALISTS

adidas

Amazon

Apple

Chad Valley

Disney

Fisher-Price

Hasbro

The LEGO Group

Marvel

Next

Nike

Pampers

36

Samsung

Tesco

PROGRESSIVE PRESCHOOL AWARDS 2021

VTech


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Sponsored by

BEST WHOLESALER OR DISTRIBUTOR OF PRESCHOOL PRODUCT Criteria: Open to all distributors and wholesalers of infant and preschool product, operating in the UK. Companies must be successfully trading, and are entered based on excellence in product selection, marketing, retail support, distribution potential, customer care and online activity.

FINALISTS

Baby Brands Direct

Little Concepts

Hippychick

Toynamics

Kidcentral

Wilton Bradley

PROGRESSIVE PRESCHOOL AWARDS 2021

37


isabella@ideas-intl.co.uk www.ideas-int.co.uk/contact/

a fully sustainable range, made entirely using FSC® certified wood

100 % recyclable packaging

38_PPS November December 2021.indd 1

05/11/2021 14:24


GUEST COLUMNIST

Bethan Garton, commercial director at The Point.1888, on how understanding the different audiences within the preschool market has been key for Moonbug’s success in licensing. Right: Bethan Garton, commercial director, The Point.1888.

KNOWING YOUR AUDIENCE

Y

ou’d have to have been hiding under a rock for the last few months to have not heard about how Moonbug Entertainment has taken over the world of licensing. With the planet’s biggest kids’ entertainment brands on its books – Morphle, CoComelon, Blippi, Little Baby Bum and more. It has a huge fanbase to work with, but, as we all know, there’s not space for every brand on the retail floor. So how do you ensure every property sees success? The trick is customer segmentation. Even though each of Moonbug’s brands is for preschool, by drilling down into this audience even further you get to see the subtle differences and huge opportunities that lie within. For example, Little Baby Bum targets the youngest end of preschool, starting at 0-6 months old. With a mix of recognisable nursery rhymes and music at its core, it appeals heavily to this demographic. The likes of Morphle and Blippi attract the older preschoolers aged between three and five. In Morphle, the introduction of bandits for a good vs bad element means it really suits an older preschooler. The other key audience of course are parents/carers as they make the buying decisions and ultimately decide what content their kids watch. We all know this group despises

annoying content and they want good quality educational products for their children. CONTINUOUS INVESTMENT But how do you get this insight? It’s a clever combination of experience, brand immersion and data. The beauty of an organisation the size of Moonbug is that it

we’re particularly strong in the preschool industry with experience working on In the Night Garden, Teletubbies, Noddy, Fisher Price, The Gruffalo and Crayola. We also have an ex-toy buyer in the team. This combined experience and knowledge has been invaluable. But we cannot forget the importance of brand immersion. We ensure our entire team watches preschool content every week, even if they don’t have kids. Yes, we’re getting paid to watch TV! Of course, it does help if you have your own preschooler at home. Seeing the way they interact and what they get from the properties is brilliant learning. And how has this understanding of the different audiences within the preschool market been applied to help Moonbug? It helps set a clear strategy and identifies the products that will best reflect each property’s values in a creative and engaging way. This has enabled us to make products available across the retail spectrum and across a wide range of categories. It is a privilege to work with Moonbug and there is a lot more news to come.

“ There’s not space for

every brand on the retail floor. So how do you ensure every property sees success? ” has a wealth of information and insight that can be invaluable when developing products and activities. Not only that, but it continuously invests in its properties, adding new episodes and content on a weekly basis. This means kids can access their portfolio of brands wherever and however they want, keeping popularity and loyalty high while at the same time, producing even more data for us to use. A brand’s insight can only take a brand licensing programme so far. You also need a team of experts on board who know the space inside and out. At The Point.1888,

Below: CoComelon has made a big impact in the preschool licensing space.

39 39_Guest Columnist.indd 1

05/11/2021 18:11


IN CONVERSATION WITH… DREW PEARSON INTERNATIONAL Inset: Hey Duggee is one of the brands which continues to lead the way in preschool for DPI.

GETTING

AHEAD

Already a well-known name within the licensed preschool headwear space, Drew Pearson International has been busy expanding into complementary categories such as bags, wallets, belts and sunglasses. As well as a burgeoning portfolio of new licences and product categories, the company is also eyeing up the opening of new doors at retail. PPS finds out more.

Left: Michael Ball, sales director, Drew Pearson International (Europe).

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05/11/2021 18:12


“T

IN CONVERSATION WITH… DREW PEARSON INTERNATIONAL

he retail world has changed so much over the last five years and will no doubt continue to change and offer new challenges. We want to be able to meet these challenges and to thrive and continue to evolve our business as we do,” Michael Ball, sales director at Drew Pearson International (Europe), explains to PPS. “As the retailers grow in confidence after lockdown, we want to be there to offer the product that meets their requirements, to always have the best designs, best quality and surety on delivery.” While there is the usual caveat of a global pandemic when speaking about the past year, Michael says that DPI is seeing the green shoots of recovery from several key retailers, with opportunities opening up in other sectors, too. And DPI itself certainly hasn’t been resting on its laurels – it has been busy securing new licences and moving into new categories, with Michael confidently saying: “We want to be the first people that customers and licensors think of when they think of licensed accessories. We want to be the company that supplies the bulk of the market with great product and great service.” In terms of success stories, PAW Patrol, Hey Duggee, Peppa and George have continued to lead the way in the preschool space, while CoComelon and Blippi are gaining momentum. “We are best known for our high quality baseball caps, knitted headwear, scarves and gloves and they continue to lead the way for Drew Pearson, but sunglasses and bags are now starting to feature more in our business and we have a lot more to come,” says Michael. “In spite of the difficulties on the high street, spring sales for retailers were fantastic on licensed properties with customers repeating within the season; initial feedback on AW is equally positive.” Michael says that items such as bags, wallets, belts and sunglasses “sit perfectly” alongside its headwear and allow the company to offer complementary ranges

GROWTH OPPORTUNITIES New product categories, new licences and new retail partners are part of future growth plans for DPI. “We are pushing forward to grow our position with ecommerce customers as this is a real growth area for us,” adds Michael. “We see opportunities in gifting, sports licences and collaborations, plus high-end retail. “As our supply base is capable of producing many different products, we see strength in offering the retailers a complete look - headwear, bags, sunglasses, holiday shops, all from one source. “When you look at our portfolio on preschool - Peppa and George, Hey Duggee, Paw Patrol, CoComelon and Blippi - we offer classic evergreen characters with newness every season, plus new to market franchises which give retailers the opportunity to have a full offer for consumers. If we can grow that for 2021 and into 2022, we will be happy.”

BIGGEST CHALLENGES “Power outages, fabric and raw material price increases, freight charges, increased lead times to name but a few,” says Michael when asked about some of the biggest challenges facing licensees such as DPI currently. “The issues with shipping from China has been the headline news for the last 12 months and although through the hard work of our great team we have managed to limit the impact on deliveries, it now looks like we are due to face new challenges due to the power restrictions in China. “At the time of writing this, the full picture has not emerged in terms of how this will effect critical paths and ultimately delivery to customers, but we have a strong supply base and the flexibility to offer retailers options.” Below: Peppa Pig – and her brother, George – are strong sellers for the company.

that merchandise well together in-store. “We are always looking for innovative and interesting new product ideas that will complement our current offering, so watch this space,” he teases. DPI was also boosted by an investment completed in 2019 on a ten-storey 500,000 sq ft factory in Bangladesh which now produces more than 60 million pieces of headwear per year. Over 6,000 workers are employed in the facility, while the benefits to DPI are also significant, says Michael. “We have our own merchandising team within the factory that works exclusively for us, and our parent company ensures that we receive great pricing, the best possible lead times, world class product and exemplary service at all times. In a time when sourcing from China is challenging, it is essential that we have this fantastic facility available to us and retailers and licensors are now very open to Bangladesh as a source of well made, well priced product. “There aren’t a great deal of headwear and accessories specialists in our world and we stand out as being a company that innovates, produces great headwear from socially and environmentally responsible factories that works with many of the key licensors and retailers.” The long-term aim for DPI, says Michael, is to continue to grow the business and continue to improve in all areas along the way. “We want to open new doors at retail including additional space on areas with existing customers, but also to deal with entirely new buyers in garden centres, pet stores, high-end stores, new brands and the ecommerce customer base, too,” he concludes.

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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.

Publishing for a new generation

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

42-43_PPS November December 2021.indd 23

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

NIGHTWEAR

SOCKS

UNDERWEAR

TIGHTS

BABYWEAR

GIFTING

For license enquires contact: Faye Rashad Email: faye@misirli.co.uk T: +44(0) 116 2645 860 45-46_PPS November December 2021.indd 30

ww 05/11/2021 14:25


y e.”

misirliukltd @MisirliUKLtd

www.misirli.co.uk 45-46_PPS November December 2021.indd 31

05/11/2021 14:25


THE BIG INTERVIEW Right: Peppa is loved by preschoolers and parents alike and fits with Character. com’s customer base well.

During a turbulent few years for all businesses, Character. com, like most others, has had to be reactive during the challenges bought about by the pandemic. But following a recent investment, there are big plans to grow the company from its already strong position as a key retailer in the licensed preschool space. PPS sits down with buying director Karen Hewitt, to find out more.

STRENGTH OF CHARACTER

W

hile being an online retailer may have stood Character. com in good stead in terms of the volume of sales during the Covid lockdowns and high street closures, the last year has been far from a straightforward period of business for the Swansea-based company. Karen Hewitt, buying director, recalls: “The most apt description would be a rollercoaster ride. The effects of Covid and Brexit have made running a business harder than ever before and it seems that every vertical, in every industry has been affected in one way or another. “That’s meant a year being more reactive that we’d have liked, where some plans were put on hold and

Left: Karen Hewitt, co-founder and buying director, Character.com.

others put to the top of the priority list.” Its lack of bricks and mortar stores meant that Character.com’s sales were strong during lockdown. Karen tells us: “As an online retailer we saw that huge spike of demand from the first lockdown onwards and that has really continued up until the last few months, where we are seeing a more expected increase in demand. The logistical challenges everyone has faced though has made it an extremely tough year to continue with our growth plans.” While the number of products being sold hit a high during lockdown, the trends in products was entirely

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THE BIG INTERVIEW Right:Pyjamas and lounge wear were the order of the day during lockdown.

Left:Character.com has plans to expand its offering now that retail is finding its ‘new normal’.

different to usual expectations, as Karen explains: “During spring/ summer 2020, we saw the usual demand for things like swimwear and backpacks drop off, but this was replaced by a demand for nightwear and lounge wear. “This continued into early 2021 with the next lockdown and since we started to revert to a ‘new normal’, we have definitely seen a much more normal buying pattern return during the last few months. Events such as back to school and travel have driven the demand for accessories and August CoComelon and Blippi, both outperforming expectations. 2021 was at far more normal levels.” Meanwhile Character.com’s first ever preschool licence, As business and life in general begins to tentatively Thomas & Friends, has also seen some steady growth over return to normal, Character.com is making big plans for the past year. And good old Peppa continues her reign as growth over the coming years. Earlier this year, the retailer the queen of preschool, as Karen tells us: “Our best selling secured a multi-million pound investment from BGF which preschool licence is definitely acquired a 23% stake in the Peppa Pig and it continues award-winning retailer. Prior GOING GREEN to retain its position as to the investment, Character. Sustainability is a key focus for Character.com and the such year on year.” com’s figures were already company has a sustainability road map up to 2025 with Key to promoting these impressive with a growth in plans to continue to build on it. brands is a diverse marketing revenue from less that £10 Karen explains: “I think our approach is definitely a strategy. Karen explains: million in FYE Jul-17, to over one step at a time model, to ensure that what we do “We want to be wherever £50 million in FYE Jul-21. is meaningful. We have recently become a member of a customer is looking for But with the investors on the Better Cotton Platform and will be launching our a product, whether that board, the team isn’t stopping first range on BCI cotton in early 2022. be on social media, search there. Karen says: “We really “We have changed all of our packaging to ensure it engines, marketplace, see so much opportunity for is made from at least 30% recyclable materials. Some or retail partners. You great charity partnerships mean we can donate our Character.com in the years can’t always rely on returns and samples to worthy causes to ensure they ahead that to really continue customers seeking you out don’t go to waste.” our aggressive growth – you need to find a way plan meant we needed a to reach them wherever they want to buy.” partner to bring additional When Character.com reaches that consumer, the working capital into the team is doing a great job of engaging with them. business. We are now The Facebook page boasts almost 76,000 followers, really well placed to keep while 9,000 follow the retailer on Instagram. Karen expanding our ranges furthers: “Facebook is still key for us, but we are and marketing activations growing every day on Instagram and looking at and cement Character. new channels like TikTok. The main thing for com’s reputation us is being able to have a conversation with as the number customers and building a sense of community one destination about the brands and characters we all love.” for character That great conversation, combined with solid clothing.” investment, popular brands, and strong plans Those for growth, means Character.com is definitely plans include one to watch in the licensed preschool space. licences old and new, with Far left: CoComelon continues to go from strength to strength and the retailer is looking the most recent to expand its product offering in 2022. additions to the Left: Evergreen Thomas & Friends was the company’s preschool portfolio, first preschool licence and continues to grow.

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THE NURSERY SUPPORT GROUP

TOGETHER WE ARE

STRONGER

The Nursery Support Group (NSG) private groups on Facebook provide a place for retailers, suppliers, and even press in the nursery industry, to come together in order to support one another, exchange ideas, offer advice, share new products, highs, lows and everything in between. PPS chats to the admins and some of the members to find out more about how the groups bring the community together.

C

omprising of two separate groups, NSG on Facebook offers a unique platform in the nursery industry. The NSG Retail group is for bricks and mortar stores, while the NSG Trade group encompasses all retailers, suppliers and press in an industry-wide community.

The groups are active daily and have a combined membership of 950 across all areas of the business. Each group carries out a slightly different function, as Ian Davidson, owner of Babylicious and admin of both groups explains: “NSG Retail is a unique group set up by retailers, which has gone from strength to strength and

Above: Shannon from Bambinos and Beyond found the group a great way to get to know the industry when she first took over the store.

where stores know they are not alone. “A place where we can talk privately about issues within the industry from online retailers, supply issues, exchange stock, pricing issues – you name it, we can discuss it, and then reach out to whoever we need to in order to protect our stores and our suppliers.” Many of the retailers involved in the group have been so for many years. Mike Cummings, md of Simply Baby, comments: “I am proud to have been a member of the NSG since Below: The two Facebook groups combined have a membership of almost a thousand retailers, suppliers and press.

TROUBLED WATERS The past few years for retail have proved a time when support networks such as NSG were a lifeline for many. Yas tells PPS: “Covid has been the biggest test of our lifetime, such events make or break people and businesses. I am glad to say we didn’t lose any retailers from our group due to Covid related issues. We did all band together and on a daily basis it was a huge lifeline for us.”

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THE NURSERY SUPPORT GROUP Left: Yas is the director of Babyland Fife.

2014 when it was recommended to me by a trade rep. It’s a great source of help, advice and inspiration that I have never experienced in any other industry that I have been a part of. “It has the perfect mix of both new and established retailers who work together to try and make the nursery industry a better place to be.” Those new to the industry also view the group as a key way to help them hit the ground running. Shannon Harris, director of Bambinos and Beyond, says: “Before taking over Bambinos and Beyond in 2019, I didn’t have a relationship with many people in the nursery trade and thought it was everyone for themselves until I was introduced to NSG. “I quickly learnt this was not the case and there were lots of other retailers just like me that sometimes needed a helping hand and support from fellow members of the trade. Ian, Yas and all the other members were so welcoming when I was a newbie and I didn’t feel like any question was silly or judged.” Many industries would see groups such as NSG sharing information and advice as competition, but Yas Ali, director of Babyland Fife and admin

of the groups, sees the industry as rare in this respect: “The community is very unique – we are a group made up of independent, family businesses, some passed down generations. Most other industries that were similar have all but disappeared unfortunately. “We are competition, there is no doubt about that. But we are a small industry, and as cliché as it is, we are all in the same boat. We help others in the hope that when we need it, others will help us – and we do. We come together when it matters.” Meanwhile the NSG Trade group is a larger group and encompasses suppliers and press as well. Ian continues: “This page is totally unique also. The stores can ask suppliers for what goods they are looking for, new stores can find all they need for their shops, suppliers can advertise what’s new and what is coming in one place, as a lot of stores don’t have time to open every email or follow every page. So it’s just a great place to check in weekly and see what’s going on.” The admins of the group receive positive feedback from suppliers who

report growth in stockists and sales when posting for free. Ian continues: “It is good to remind stores and buyers that you are there and what you have going on. Some suppliers I don’t really feel get how good the page can be for their business.” One supplier who really understands the value of the NSG Trade group is Green Sheep Group. Independent sales manager, Shaun Windsor-Turner, explains: “The group is always very responsive to posts. It’s a great way of sharing information and assets amongst our independent retailers across the country very quickly and effectively. “Having been in retail for 16 years, I know how quickly the retail landscape can change. Our retailers face fresh challenges daily, so this is a great way of seeing what is current and fresh in the industry. We plan to utilise the group much more moving forward now we have two new members of the independent trade team. The group can be a great tool for suppliers if utilised to the full potential.” Yas rounds things up perfectly: “As an industry, we are stronger together, because without each other, we can’t survive. Suppliers need shop floor presence and our expertise to help sell their product and get their name out; equally we need their support and stock. I think the past few years and the amazing weekend that was the Harrogate International Nursery Fair proves that we are quite the force.” Below left and right: Ian is also the owner of Babylicious in the Wirral.

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54_PPS November December 2021.indd 1

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PRESCHOOL LICENSING SPECIAL

ON WITH THE SHOW

“T

he whole team can’t wait to get onsite at ExCeL and back to reconnecting the industry in person,” enthuses Anna Knight, vp licensing at Informa Markets. “We’ve got such a packed event in terms of exhibitors, features, keynotes, events and more. It’s going to be a hectic but brilliant three days.” After switching both Licensing Expo (which runs in Las Vegas) and Brand Licensing Europe to virtual events due to the pandemic in 2020, Anna and the team are understandably delighted to be back in-person. And she’s not joking about the packed schedule either, with the planned activity set to be beneficial and informative for those in the preschool category. “Our main feature this year is our Sustainability Activation in partnership with Products of Change, which ties into our What’s Next theme and is a must-stop for brands, retailers and manufacturers,” Anna explains. “It will be packed with innovation when it comes to sustainable technology, processes, materials, retail, product and fashion design. We’ll have product showcases from the likes of LEGO, Keel Toys, George at Asda, Natural History Museum, The Eden Project, Teemill and many more. There’ll also be a Health and Wellbeing Lounge, where attendees can enjoy a peaceful respite from back-to-back meetings and find healthy snacks and drinks.” There will be two keynotes – one with Team GB and one with ViacomCBS Consumer Products which will be discussing insights from its Diversity & Inclusion efforts with a

BRAND LICENSING EUROPE 2021

After missing the 2020 in-person show due to the pandemic, Brand Licensing Europe is returning to London’s ExCeL this month. PPS catches up with Anna Knight, vp licensing at Informa Markets, to find out what’s planned and why companies in the preschool sector should visit.

Above: BLE is returning to London’s ExCeL from 17-19 November, while a virtual event will follow on 30 November and 1 December. Above: The preschool sector is always a core part of the show.

specific focus on its recent toy research. In addition, the Retail Trends Lounge is returning, plus the show will be paying tribute to Kelvyn Gardner (who passed away suddenly in January and was a key supporter of BLE over many years). The show entrances will also feature the Agents of Change galleries – the companies which are driving real change across the licensing industry. Anna continues: “Character and entertainment and preschool are almost the forefathers of brand licensing, so the sector will always be a huge part of

BLE 2021: NEED TO KNOW When: 17-19 November inperson at London’s ExCeL and 30 November and 1 December online. Who: Almost 200 companies across the in-person and virtual events are confirmed to exhibit across the three categories – Character & Entertainment, Brands & Lifestyle and Art, Design & Image. Companies exhibiting with preschool brands include Acamar, Bulldog Licensing, Coolabi, Cyber Group Studios, Hasbro, Magic Light Pictures, Mattel, Sophie la girafe, The Point.1888, ViacomCBS and WildBrain CPLG to name just a few. www.brandlicensing.eu

the show. Preschool retailers are always very well represented, too, with the likes of George at Asda, Primark, The Entertainer, Nutmeg Morrisons and many more attending.” For those who are unable to make the in-person event, there will also be a virtual event running on 30 November and 1 December. The keynotes and retail sessions will be recorded so that those unable to watch in person have the opportunity to catch up on demand, while there will also be a wealth of content produced exclusively for the online platform including eight License Global Live webinars, three ‘in conversation with’ sessions on diversity and inclusion led by ViacomCBS, plus the inaugural Licensing U produced by trade body, Licensing International. So what would Anna most like to accomplish with this year’s show? “Generally, to reconnect the industry and provide them with a really solid platform to build out of the pandemic and plan for the future. Specifically, to help all attendees to realise how important it is to make the move from commitment to action when it comes to sustainability, and that even if they can only start small, they can still make a difference,” Anna concludes. Left: Anna Knight, vp licensing, Informa Markets.

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PRESCHOOL LICENSING SPECIAL Left: Acamar renewed its partnership with Golden Bear Toys for a further four years in 2021.

ACAMAR

With products launching in new categories, a national charity partnership, a launch into the US, plus new experiential partnerships opening, it’s been a busy year for Acamar Films’ Bing property. The company’s ultimate goal is for Bing to become a global icon. PPS chats to Louise Simmonds, head of UK licensing, to find out the plans for BLE and beyond.

IT’S A BING THING

W

hile Acamar Films readies for a return to BLE this month, the team is also gearing up for its stint as the exclusive early years fundraising partner for this year’s Children in Need with the BBC. Acamar is offering a range of special Bing and Pudsey merchandise exclusively on its ecommerce platform, the Bing Store, and Bing-themed fundraising kits have been sent out to 25,000 nurseries, with imaginative ways to help change young lives across the UK. The partnership builds on the company’s focus on experiential licensing over the past year. Alongside the permanent presence in Alton Towers and Gulliver’s Land, Bing and Flop made guest appearances at several family festivals this summer. The muchloved bunny also appeared on the big screen with Bing’s Animal Stories. Louise Simmonds, head of UK licensing, explains: “We continue to create memorable moments for Bingsters and their families. This autumn we were delighted to partner with ZSL London Zoo to bring Bing-themed activities to the attraction. Additionally, our new theatre show Bing is Jarig (Bing’s Birthday) launched in October in the Netherlands. The first performances sold out in a couple of days, with more to come in spring 2022.” In fact, Acamar has seen strong

growth for the brand throughout EMEA, with over 100 licensees across 70,000+ points of sale in eight key markets. Bing remains the number one preschool property in Italy and great results are being shown in the Netherlands, Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary. 2021 also saw a key launch for Bing. “A significant milestone as we grow

DIGITALLY PRESENT The Bing: Watch, Play Learn app in now available in five territories and has achieved over 1.4 million downloads. The YouTube channels have exceeded four billion views and 500 million watch time hours. Louise expands: “The new Alexa Skill Bing Time launched on Amazon Kids+ in July, which is a wonderful audio companion and another immersive way to deepen our Bingsters’ relationships with Bing.” Furthermore, the ecommerce Bing Store has seen a 70% growth in monthly transactions in the first 10 months and have given Acamar a new digital platform to engage directly with its customers.

Below: Acamar says an industry move towards gender neutrality is gaining pace and delivering a unisex consumer product programme is a core focus. Right: Louise Simmonds, head of UK licensing, Acamar Films.

internationally has been launching into the US this year. We have partnered with WarnerMedia Kids & Family and Bing is part of their new preschool programming block, Cartoonito.” On the hardlines side, Acamar has recently renewed its EMEA partnership with Golden Bear Toys for a further four years. The consumer products portfolio is continuing to grow and has seen Acamar sign new partners across categories such as toys, publishing, home textiles, wheeled toys, wooden toys, apparel and health & beauty. Louise explains: “The tail end of the pandemic is still with us and we are not yet out of the woods, but preschool is always a reliable and resilient part of the overall licensing market. Reflecting this, we delivered more new categories for Bing at retail this year, such as our first celebration cake and dental products.” Louise concludes: “As we move into 2022, we hope to see Bing further along his journey to becoming a global icon, grow the global footprint, support our partners and keep our audience at the heart of everything we do.” Visit Acamar Films on stand A183 at BLE 2021 to find out more.

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CELEBRATING

1971 - 2021

Celebrating 58_PPS November December 2021.indd 1

years of the Home of Classic Characters 05/11/2021 14:08


PRESCHOOL LICENSING SPECIAL BBC STUDIOS

TOP DOG

I

n what Mandy Thwaites, director, magazines and consumer products, UK Division at BBC Studios, terms as ‘a year of highlights’, 2021 has seen the licensor’s portfolio of brands enjoy commercial success, as well as strong innovation from licensing partners across a range of new areas as varied as confectionery, furniture, wheeled and musical toys, and health and beauty. The stand out brand for 2021 has been Bluey. Mandy tells PPS: “We’re coming up to our first Christmas for Bluey in the UK and we have full commitment from most of UK retailers including toy specialists and grocers, driven by the amazing Moose Toys range. We’re about to launch Bluey products to European markets in April and there’s been a real excitement amongst partners to work with us on this brand. It’s still early days here, but it’s so exciting to see it unfold.” Bluey is helping BBC Studios to increase its global footprint rapidly, having recently announced new freeto-air partners for the series in France, Denmark and South Korea. With this expansion comes increased demand for products, which are being launched thick and fast. Mandy explains: “We have a growing roster of top tier licensees including Moose Toys, Penguin Random House, VTech and Stor and we’ve recently unveiled a new multi-territory deal with Crayola – with much more still in the pipeline. We’ve

With Bluey already proving a huge success in Australia, the US and Canada, and now growing rapidly in the UK, BBC Studios is preparing to launch the brand into Europe next year. Meanwhile the ever popular Hey Duggee and Mr Tumble brands are helping the company to continue its stronghold in the preschool sector. PPS takes a closer look at the recent activity and plans for the coming year.

also been appointing agents in Europe and the Americas, which will further expand our reach.” There is more planned for the brand over the coming months, too. Mandy continues: “It’s too early to highlight anything at this moment but needless to say, our production and development team are working closely with creators on a number of exciting projects, so watch this space. The success of Bluey and Hey Duggee has certainly acted as a catalyst to attracting new creative talent.” What makes these brands so successful is a unique IP and key qualities including great storytelling,

CAREFUL CREATION BBC Studios works with its partners to create detailed products which reflect the values of the show with innovative lines. Mandy explains: “A stand out example of this would be the Mr Tumble weighted calming companion made by Golden Bear. It is a therapeutic toy designed to create the sensation of a hug to soothe anxiety and aid mindfulness, that’s where we see the extension of the show into a product designed perfectly for the audience.” The company also works with partners who are committed to sustainability, such as the new apparel range with Teemill for Hey Duggee, and Dreamtex’s partnership with the Better Cotton Initiative for the first time on a Bluey bedding range.

Left: BBC Studios says the retailer response to the new products available has been very positive. Right: Mandy Thwaites, director, magazines and consumer products, UK division at BBC Studios.

a progressive ethos, humour and a family focus. “This is broadening the appeal for these kids’ properties with adults too, so that there’s a shared connection and love for these shows between children and their parents,” says Mandy. Also key is the marketing activity behind the brands and online and social media is at the forefront for BBC Studios. The company has recently launched a Danish language YouTube channel for Bluey, joining its Spanish and French language channels. Mandy explains: “The key is to have a holistic approach and not just occupy a single platform. One of the benefits of engaging directly with fans is that it can also lead to more creative product development. “We’ve also developed highly creative and imaginative AVOD/ online and social campaigns in house that work hand in glove with our broadcasters and major licensees, particularly toy.” While 2021 was about meeting and exceeding consumer and retailer expectations for BBC Studios, 2022 will see the company extending its retailer reach, strengthening its relationships with licensees and building new partnerships.

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PRESCHOOL LICENSING SPECIAL BULLDOG LICENSING

Inset: Sixteen South’s Odo make its TV debut on Milkshake this summer.

From heritage brands such as Sesame Street and Care Bears through to new entrants to the licensed preschool space – like Odo and Marcus & Marcus – Bulldog Licensing has a healthy portfolio in the category. PPS finds out more.

SHARING AND CARING

B

ulldog Licensing is heading to Brand Licensing Europe this month (stand A182) with a host of preschool properties in its roster – ranging from classics such as Sesame Street and Care Bears, plus publishing hit That’s not my… through to newcomers including Kindi Kids, Marcus & Marcus and Odo. All have experienced some major highlights, too, as PPS finds out from the agency’s Vicky Miller, licensing director, and Sole Slater, senior creative manager. “Seeing the That’s not my… ranges across grocery and the high street this summer has been my highlight,” says Sole. “Over the past few years, we have worked with our licensees to establish the property outside of the book aisle and it is great to see it become a staple of our retailers’ preschool ranges.” Vicky continues: “It’s been fantastic to see the growth of our brands in the toy space, too. The new Care Bears master toy range from Basic Fun debuted last summer and we’ve seen great expansion this year both in terms of stockists and the range, with new bears being added. Togetherness Bear has been a particular hit with our fans. “The new Sesame Street plush range from Posh Paws is also just hitting the market with a great reaction from consumers. Kindi Kids is, of course, a toy brand which continues to be the number one large doll brand in the market, and our

That’s not my… developmental toy range from Rainbow Designs also continues to expand after winning the Progressive Preschool Award last year.” Bulldog also has high hopes for new brands to its roster, Odo and Marcus & Marcus. Odo is a new series from Sixteen South which launched this summer on Milkshake and follows the adventures of the littlest owl in the

PLANNING FOR GROWTH “With each of our preschool brands we have growing licensee lists moving into 2022 which is really exciting,” says Vicky. “Sesame Street is an established evergreen brand which generations have grown up with. We are seeing additional growth as Sesame Street builds awareness and momentum among the preschoolers themselves through new broadcast on Tiny Pop, online content and fantastic new master toy products. “We also have huge excitement for Care Bears for next year where the anniversary, new TV, new toy and ongoing success with fashion collaborations is driving momentum. Kindi Kids continues to own the large doll space and our fans are really excited for our additional products to come to market, while Marcus and Marcus offer parents a trusted, sustainable and practical range of products. Odo is right at the start of its journey having just launched on Milkshake this summer.”

forest who believes he can do anything. Marcus & Marcus, meanwhile, is an established Canadian design brand with the range of products featuring cute, instantly recognisable characters to appeal to preschoolers. When it comes to trends, Vicky and Sole have also noticed some key themes emerging throughout the year. “We’ve seen the continued importance to parents of educational elements to brands,” says Vicky. “Socially conscious play has also been a key trend which is really important to parents and which we are really seeing brands deliver on – from Sesame Workshop’s #CaringForEachOther campaign developed in record time in response to Covid and their ongoing educational programmes tackling important topics from racial justice to autism, to the evergreen diverse and inclusive nature of Care Bears.” There has also been an increase in gender neutral garments, especially in the preschool market adds Sole. “Our brands have very versatile style guides that allow our partners to cater to trends like these. We also keep our UK and international licensors up to date with British market trends so new directions can be incorporated in future style guide development. We also work with an excellent team of licensees which are fast to react to these trends, so it’s very important to us that our licensors are up to speed and are able to react quickly,” Sole concludes.

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PRESCHOOL LICENSING SPECIAL Left: Clangers launched across all the major VOD platforms in China in 2021.

COOLABI

Coolabi’s hero brand, Clangers, was originally broadcast in 1969, and since the new series of the stop-motion animation came on air in 2015, it has never been off air - testament to its importance to the CBeebies schedule. Allison Watkins, director of global consumer products and TV distribution at Coolabi, tells PPS about what’s been happening in 2021 for the much-loved property. Right: Allison Watkins, director of global consumer products and TV distribution, Coolabi.

OUT OF THIS WORLD

T

he themes of music and sound are central to Coolabi’s licensing programme for Clangers. In 2020, the partnership with the UK’s largest music therapy charity, Nordoff-Robbins, was key and the ‘On stage at home’ promotion reached over 15 million people during a challenging period. The company also taught lots of children to speak ‘Clanger’ with its amazon Alexa Kids+ promotion. Both partnerships have continued this year and have expanded. Allison Watkins, director of global consumer products and TV distribution at Coolabi, comments: “We are delighted that our Nordoff Robbins partnership is a live stream and recorded music therapy session with Tiny and Small Clanger and is supported by CBeebies presenter Cat Sandion. We also have an enhanced offering with Alexa, which is a partnership we are continuing to expand upon.” Following the at-home activity for

the brand during the pandemic, its experiential partnerships have also now opened again at Gulliver’s Family Theme Parks. Allison says: “It reinforces family shared experiences which feels even more relevant today than ever before.” All of the activity is supported by the property’s strength in broadcasting. Clangers remains one of the strongest rating programmes on CBeebies, anchoring the bedtime zone. One of the reasons for this perhaps, is the longevity of the brand. Allison explains: “Preschool continues to be a highly competitive space and there is huge comfort in the familiarity of known brands. I think that will continue and the desire to have shared family viewing and experiences are

CELEBRATING DIFFERENCES Another important property in the preschool space for Coolabi is publishing brand, Giraffes Can’t Dance, written by Giles Andreae. Allison says: “This hugely successful book saw significant global sales growth over the last 18 months and the themes that it’s okay to be different are more relevant today than when the book was written over 20 years ago.”

more important now than ever as we hug those closest to us.” Alongside TV, the YouTube audience continues to build with episodes, compilations and shortform content including episodes of The Tiny and Small Show, as well as classic Clangers. Allison comments: “For us, connecting with our audience across multiple platforms is vital. TV, YouTube, social, live, is all part of a Clangers experience. We will continue that into 2022.” Outside of the UK, Clangers also works closely with Fantawild in China. The series launched across all the major VOD platforms earlier this year and Coolabi is building its Clangers audience through the expansive social media landscape in China. Allison continues: “There is also exciting news in the rest of the world working with Jetpack, our new international distribution partner. The series is currently being dubbed in to German and will be launching on ZDF later this year. ZDF joins an extensive family across Australia, Asia, Middle East, Central and Eastern Europe and Western Europe, which we will continue to build.” Coolabi looks forward to continuing its conversations with potential licensees on stand C180 at BLE.

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PRESCHOOL LICENSING SPECIAL GURU STUDIO

Guru Studio is currently seeing strong demand for its preschool property, True and the Rainbow Kingdom, across the globe. LSB catches up with the company’s Jonathan Abraham to find out more on its future plans for the brand and what else is in its preschool locker.

TRUE STORY

“2

021 was a really strong year for Guru Studio’s CP efforts,” begins the company’s vp of sales and business development, Jonathan Abraham. Guru’s big focus right now is on preschool series, True and the Rainbow Kingdom which has four seasons streaming on Netflix and is also rating well on linear TV channels around the world (including Tiny Pop in the UK). Its newest preschool series, meanwhile, Pikwik Pack has also started to air internationally and is generating healthy attention from the licensing community. Activity for True includes the addition of United Smile as master toy partner, with Bandai acting as the distributor for the range in Europe. A raft of licensing agents have also been appointed to help grow the brand globally, with bRAND-WARD taking up the mantle for the UK. Jonathan continues: “Supporting our global toy launch, we’ve signed some incredible international licensees [for True] such as Fashion UK (apparel), Imagine8 (apparel and accessories), Roy Lowe (socks), Aykroyds (sleepwear), Smiffys (dressup) and Caprice (apparel). “For Pikwik Pack our master toy partner Playmates Toys is leading the way, with Scholastic handling publishing and Jay Franco launching homewares. The show is just now starting to launch internationally and

Above: True and the Rainbow Kingdom is building up a healthy roster of consumer products partners. Right: Jonathan Abraham, vp sales and business development, Guru Studio.

we’ll be preparing for our global CP roll out next year.” Jonathan believes that it is “critical” to be in front of kids and parents wherever you can, with YouTube acting as the primary place where children are watching shows. “The benefit of that is that as a manager of a brand-owned channel, we can share all the data we have with retailers,” he says. “We know which characters are generating the most engagement, which episodes

NEW OPPORTUNITIES “Traditionally the preschool licensed sector has had tons of opportunities; however Covid restrictions slowed retailers' interest in bringing in newer IP, but we’re starting to see that change as things open up,” says Jonathan. “We’re confident that opportunities for newer brands to get space on shelves will open up again shortly. Just as the way people receive their content is changing rapidly, so too are retailers having to adapt to be more nimble and experimental when it comes to seeing what will perform. “While the speed at which kids engage with brands is only increasing, the product development and manufacturing process continue to struggle to keep pace. That’ll be an interesting trend to follow as manufacturers find strategies to bring products to market more quickly.”

are getting re-watched the most and how we’re tracking versus our competitors. Having the data gives brand owners more leverage.” Notably, True and the Rainbow Kingdom has nearly reached a billion views on YouTube, with Jonathan saying that a lot of interest from licensees has come from the brand’s growing presence on the platform. “2021 was very much an anomaly with kids stuck at home due to the global pandemic. What we all saw is that YouTube became a primary destination for kids and we’re seeing brands that have dominated on YouTube start to really make headway at retail.” Jonathan adds that Guru Studio is also working closely with broadcasters and VOD players to understand their needs. “For us, content with strong characters always leads the way and if we feel there’s consumer products potential with one of our shows, we’ll make sure to bring in the best partners possible. But it has to be organic to the property. “Right now we’re seeing really strong demand for True and the Rainbow Kingdom from all over the world, and we’ll hopefully be announcing more content soon,” Jonathan concludes.

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The new UK pre school hit

preschool show globally so far this year*

Top 10 on Netflix in the UK

4.5M Followers hit - July 2021

Top 5 performing preschool show in the UK

100 Billion

views on as of October 2021

*Parrot Analytics (Aug 12th 2021) https://kidscreen.com/2021/08/12/whatare-the-most-in-demand-preschool-shows

© Animaccord LTD, 2008 - 2021 www.mashabear.com

Where your brand deserves to be. 66_PPS November December 2021.indd 1

Come meet us at BLE 2021 stand no. C113

LICENSING

05/11/2021 14:49


PRESCHOOL LICENSING SPECIAL MAGIC LIGHT PICTURES

Magic Light Pictures is heading to BLE with its new preschool brand, Pip and Posy, as well as the annual Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler Christmas special. PPS catches up with the family brand creator to find out more about its plans.

A LEADING LIGHT

C

hristmas wouldn’t be Christmas without an animated Julia Donaldson tale from Magic Light Pictures, and this year will be no different as the company launches its latest adaptation – Superworm. Past specials have included The Gruffalo, Room on the Broom, Zog and its sequel Zog and the Flying Doctors, The Highway Rat and the Snail and the Whale, all of which have been big hits in the consumer products arena. 2021’s appearance looks set to be another popular choice, as Daryl Shute, brand director, tells us: “When a hero with a difference and a wonderfully entertaining villain clash, a thrilling adventure ensues that focuses on the brilliance of teamwork. A joyful animation with an engaging cast, we think it’s perfect festive family fare.” Recent additions to the licensing programme include Micro Scooters, Wow! Stuff and Joules. The Gruffalo is the first licensed brand Micro Scooters has ever worked with on the range which launched last autumn. Master toy, Wow! Stuff, introduced its figurines this summer to bolster the existing popular toy offering from other licensees. The colourful apparel and accessories Gruffalo collection from Joules for babies and young children has also just launched in-store and online.

The Donaldson and Scheffler collection are not the only preschool brands vying for attention at the Magic Light stand at this year’s BLE though. In March, the company launched its first preschool series, Pip and Posy, which has been a big hit. Milkshake ratings regularly place the animation as the top-rated kids show. Pip and Posy is based on Scheffler’s series of books about a rabbit and a mouse whose lives revolve around

GOING LIVE Now that live events are able to be enjoyed again, there is plenty of experiences for preschoolers from Magic Light. The Gruffalo Adventures partnership with The Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew won the Best Licensed Live Event at this year’s Licensing Awards and features a carving and activity trail. Daryl furthers: “Meanwhile, at Chessington World of Adventures the thrilling Gruffalo River Ride and the amazing Room on the Broom – A Magical Journey attraction remain huge draws, while some very special Room on the Broom have been taking place at the resort this autumn to celebrate the book’s 20th anniversary. And – brand new for 2021 – an exciting new interactive trail starring Zog the lovable dragon launched at Warwick Castle.”

Above left: Magic Light Pictures sees “fantastic opportunities” for Pip and Posy, says Daryl. Right: Daryl Shute, brand director, Magic Light Pictures.

a world of play, and celebrates friendship, laughter and games. Daryl says: “Pip and Posy is now rolling out worldwide. As well as airing on coproduction partner ZDF in Germany, it has also secured broadcasters in France (France Televisions), Australia, Benelux and Scandinavia, with interest from more territories to be announced.” The consumer products launch for the Pip and Posy licence is due for 2022, so the company is focusing on building awareness over the coming months. Daryl explains: “We want to position it so that it can reach the status of an established preschool brand, which takes time and care. We’ve had some really fruitful conversations across key categories and it’s looking exciting for next year. “We see fantastic opportunities for Pip and Posy. The team has created something really special and unique, with beautiful animation and a different angle in the focus of friendship between the two characters, that we think will have global and enduring appeal.” Head to stand C182 at BLE to meet the team.

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05/11/2021 18:24


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28/10/2021 11:23 05/11/2021 14:50


PRESCHOOL LICENSING SPECIAL Left: Retail and hospitality and key focuses for the Miffy brand.are

Illustrator and graphic design artist Dick Bruna’s iconic Miffy brand continues to go from strength to strength since its launch 66 years ago. This year has seen high profile collaborations, as well as a strong retail focus worldwide. PPS finds out more about the brand from licensor Mercis’ senior project manager, Mark Teunissen.

HAPPY BUNNY

Left: Miffy supports the Sickle Cell Foundation.

H

ousehold names such as Converse, LeSportSac, Strathberry and Petit Bateau have been among the licensees working with the evergreen Miffy property in 2021, demonstrating the brand’s infamous status and worldwide reach. Alongside consumer products, the much-loved bunny also features in her own TV series, musical productions and a movie, and a new musical launched in October, which is planned to tour the Netherlands and possibly further afield for the next three years. Experiential campaigns are also key for the property, as Mark Teunissen, senior project manager, explains: “Possibly equally exciting was the exponential growth of the ‘Move with Miffy’ programme, which aims to incentivise children from the youngest age possible to move and have fun.” Retail is also a key focus for Mercis with the Miffy brand and the flagship Miffy store in Westfield attracts over 14 million visitors annually. The company recently signed a DTR partnership with Riachuelo in Brazil for apparel and opened new Miffy Style stores in Japan, as well as a slate of new hospitality initiatives in China, Japan and Thailand. Further extending the hospitality connection, Mercis recently successfully launched two cookbooks in collaboration with chef, Samuel Levie. Mark comments: “The focus on delicious and healthy recipes for

MERCIS

the whole family is another good example of ways to connect and spend quality time between children and their caretakers.” This theme of quality time shared between families is a key focus for Mercis at the moment and helps work toward the ultimate Right: Miffy books have been published in over 50 languages and sold more than 85 million copies worldwide.

THE YEAR OF THE RABBIT Mercis is currently working on some very exciting partnerships in the run up to 2023 – the year of the rabbit. Mark explains: “Dick Bruna was born in the same year, so no surprise there that this is proving fertile ground for new interesting projects and future collaboration around the world.”

goal for the brand of stimulating children’s imagination to enable them to reach their full potential. A goal which was firmly in mind when the company collaborated with Azerion recently to create the Play along with Miffy app. “The app features 15 educational games to help develop cognitive skills in a fun interactive way for children up to the age of six,” says Mark. “The app has also been made available in 12 different languages through both Google Play and the App Store.” The digital space is key for Miffy, and the ongoing expansion of the social media channels now includes Miffy’s official YouTube channels made available in 12 different languages, including Thai. Mark comments: “Social media is important to create a connection and by now seems to have become almost the first point of reference for most people around the world.” For 2022 and beyond, Mercis will continue its mission to: “Share Dick Bruna’s design philosophy, and Miffy, with as many people as possible through strong partnerships and ‘colour the world’ with our core values of essence, simplicity, fun and great design,” says Mark. 2021 will conclude with the November launch of Miffy’s music album containing news songs. Find this and more on stand B162 at Brand Licensing Europe.

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05/11/2021 14:51


PRESCHOOL LICENSING SPECIAL THE POINT.1888

OVER THE MOON

T

here is no denying that the portfolio of preschool brands from Moonbug Entertainment has made a major impact on retail in the past year. CoComelon and Blippi have seen success across key categories such as toys and apparel, with Bethan Garton, commercial director at The Point.1888, the agency which handles the licensing for the Moonbug brands – which also include Little Baby Bum and Morphle - reporting “phenomenal” sell-through at retail. “It’s also been exciting to see the Crayola CoComelon launch of Colour Wonder; luckily it is now one of Crayola's top performing brands,” says Bethan. “All of this has also been helped by our recent activity at retail with windows, panel ends and POS really helping to drive the brands forward. “The Moonbug portfolio is a global hit with successes in many categories and with many retailers. In EMEA we have amazing sub agent partnerships who are driving the brands on the ground and recently we saw mall activations in the Middle East and Spain which were hugely popular with little ones and grownups. We’re fortunate that Moonbug are constantly launching new language versions of the English-speaking content across their portfolio.”

For The Point.1888, a key part of its portfolio is the Moonbug Entertainment stable of brands – which includes CoComelon and Blippi, both currently making a big impact on retail. But it also boasts classic preschool brands such as Percy the Park Keeper, as well as representing Mumsnet in the consumer products space. PPS finds out more from commercial director, Bethan Garton.

Bethan believes that the preschool sector in general is in a healthy position at the moment. “There are always new children coming into the world and feeding the preschool sector,” she says. “There will always be birthdays, Christmas and occasions to celebrate with preschoolers. Being able to be part of those through licensing is incredibly exciting.” While the Moonbug brands are on a continuing upward trajectory, there is also potential for further growth elsewhere in The Point’s preschool offering – which the agency will be discussing at Brand Licensing Europe this month (stand C183).

Left: Blippi has been just one of the Moonbug brands enjoying success at retail this year. Right: Bethan Garton, commercial director, The Point.1888.

Bethan continues: “We also represent Mumsnet and are working on some exciting launches for them over the coming years in the preschool categories. And Percy the Park Keeper being a classic evergreen brand has so much potential, particularly in today’s world where children are more aware of being kind to the environment and animals.” Bethan’s aim in the preschool space OLD AND NEW for the remainder of 2021 and into 2022 is a simple one: “To keep on “There is a vast difference between doing what we are doing! Working with classic preschool properties and retail buyers to fill gaps, identify trends entertainment-based properties, and make their life easier. Supporting but they can all coexist together at retail as they offer the consumer our licensees as they navigate these something different,” says really difficult times - every day we Bethan. “Percy The Park Keeper hear horror stories around shipping is remembered by parents and and logistics and we aim to be as grandparents as it is 30 years old. I supportive as possible. had the books as a child and now “Keeping our brand owners as my little one is reading them. We happy as possible by delivering a best have an amazing activation for Percy in class service that goes above and The Park Keeper with a well-known beyond what they would ever expect brand launching soon, which will allow so many more families access from a licensing agency. They are trusting us with their baby (their brand) to the brand across the country. and so we must do our best to ensure “This is a very different offering to that of Moonbug but for us it’s a we are the best brand ambassadors possible,” Bethan concludes. really nice mix.”

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05/11/2021 18:26


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HARROGATE INTERNATIONAL NURSERY FAIR Inset: The nursery industry came back together last month at Harrogate International Nursery Fair.

Last month, the preschool industry finally reunited in person at the Harrogate International Nursery Fair, after almost two years of Zoom and Teams calls, and online presentations and meetings. Businesses really went to town with exciting new launches and fabulous stands. PPS catches up with the organisers and some buyers to find out how the fair went, and brings you some of the hot products from the show floor.

HOT AT HARROGATE H arrogate International Nursery Fair was a much-anticipated event for the preschool industry as it signified a return to some sort of normality, where we were finally able to meet in person again. And the show did not disappoint. With well over 200 brands attending and an extra hall of the convention centre opened for 2021, the space was bursting with innovation and excitement. Show organiser Adrian Sneyd tells PPS: “The show was phenomenal this year. We had obviously hoped for a great turn out with this being the first industry trade show for over two years; but participation exceeded all expectations.” Visitor and exhibitor feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, too. Adrian continues: “All the comments received have been how amazing it was to be able to meet and do business face to face again and apparently business was brisk with orders flowing in. In fact some exhibitors have

commented that this was their best Harrogate ever.” Buyers are also praising the return to Harrogate. Yas Ali, director, Babyland Fife, says: “HINF 2021 was awesome, can't wait for 22. Great show, needed to be longer, didn't get around all the halls. Amazing childhood vibes, remembering how full it was as a teen when I used to visit with my mum. “Being back with my friends and colleagues, was an incredible feeling after a very hard couple of years. So positive and absolutely buzzing.”

Below: A highlight of the show was the Sunday night party with over 600 attendees. Below right: Many brands, like iCandy returned to the show this year after a break from exhibiting.

Jenny Brooks, senior buyer, Online4Baby agrees: “It was a fantastic show. It was so nice to get back to meeting face to face and seeing products in person. We had some great conversations with brands on future business. As a buyer, seeing the product and watching live demos was the highlight – so much more value to see and try the products, view fabrics, colours and styles.” On the back of such a huge success, the dates for Harrogate 2022 have already been announced as 16-18 October. In 2023, the plan is to revert to a spring date to allow a healthy six-month time period before Kind und Jugend’s September dates.

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05/11/2021 18:16


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74_PPS November December 2021.indd 1

05/11/2021 14:53


HARROGATE INTERNATIONAL NURSERY FAIR ROCKIT

Rockit launched Whoosh at Harrogate - a tiny sound soother which is highly portable. Despite its size, though, Whoosh produces high quality sounds with eight options built in including a cat purring, a person ‘shushing’, womb sounds with heartbeat, gurgling and swooshing, along with a lullaby composed especially for the product. To tie in with Rockit’s space theme, there is also a real space sound provided with permission from NASA. Whoosh features a clip to allow parents to clip it onto a curtain in the nursery or it doubles as a stand. The soother is USB rechargeable and offers an allnight mode or one-hour option. In the box, there’s a USB cable, but also a strap to enable it to be attached to a stroller or a pram, for use when out and about. Rockit co-founder, Matt Dyson, comments: “It’s been fantastic to be back at Harrogate, it’s so nice to be able to meet customers again. Rockit has been doing fantastically well and it’s really great to get that feedback from retailers, it really buoys you after a difficult two years. Inset: The new Aster v2 is perfect for travel, weighing in at just 6.2kg.

“We’re really pleased with how Rockit and Zed are doing. When you’re launching a new product, you hope and pray that it’s going to be a hit. We think Whoosh will be. It’s a really good gifting price, so to see this really flying off the shelves would be the icing on the cake this year.” Above: Matt Dyson with Whoosh, the third product in Rockit’s portfolio.

DIDOFY

Harrogate saw the launch of Didofy’s new V2 Aster - the ultimate innovative compact-fold pushchair. Aster is innovatively designed to provide a reliable, safe, and highly practical ultra-compact stroller, making life easier for parents on the go. Aster features the clever MagicFold - simply press a button and the pushchair folds and unfolds itself. The Aster has been designed as an ultralightweight pushchair to make travelling with a baby effortless. It weighs in at 6.2kg and is so compact it can be carried with ease. Aster’s in-built suspension and multi-position seat offer a smooth and comfortable ride for the baby and with puncture-free wheels, there is never any worry about flat tyres. The new V2 2022 edition features premium fabric and colour choice; the Aster is now available in a new colourway, black with bronze anodised frame to complement the existing grey and olive green colours. The new version also offers a smooth ride with the inbuilt suspension and a 25% deeper quilted patterned seat, while the higher seat angle is now 103 degrees. A new leatherette removable bumper bar and handlebar makes getting baby in and out easier, while the five-point cushioned harness, adjustable footrest and multi-position reclining backrest with a higher upright angle offers improved comfort. Josephine Votsis, director at Didofy, says: “There was such a buzz at Harrogate and our retailers were very excited, as their best seller got even better. The show was fruitful for us as we forged new relationships with brand-new retailers. We want to continue to strengthen relationships with existing and new retailers and we cannot wait to see more happy customers throughout 2022.”

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05/11/2021 18:16


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05/11/2021 14:54


HARROGATE INTERNATIONAL NURSERY FAIR INGLESINA Inglesina unveiled the Electa travel system at Harrogate. The product is ideal for the city as it's lightweight, compact and easy to manoeuvre – the perfect companion for busy family life. Designed for urban life, the Electa has everything you would expect from a full size travel system but is the weight and size of a compact stroller. It is as easy to manoeuvre through busy streets as it is through the park and on and off public transport or in and out of a car. With the stroller weighing in at just 8.7kg, and the high tech lightweight 5.5kg chassis, the Electa is designed to maximise space

VITAL BABY

when travelling. The stylish travel system can be taken with you wherever you go and the chassis folds down to the size of a travel trolley when closed, at 73.5 x 50cm. Plus, Inglesina’s one-handed open and fold makes it simple to close. There are no corners cut when it comes to comfort either. Like the other Inglesina models, the Electa

HINF was an exciting platform for Vital Baby to showcase its entire brand including hero products such as the new, second generation NURTURE advanced pro UV steriliser and dryer. Boasting a rapid seven-minute sterilisation cycle, it can drysterilise (with no water, steam or chemicals) virtually

comes with the signature Welcome Pad – designed by specialists to ensure baby is both safe and comfortable. Additionally, there is a range of accessories available to pair with Electa, including a rain cover, parasol, winter muff, summer cover, and an extra mattress and mattress cover. Jonathan Feingold, UK director at Inglesina, says: “Retailers loved our new item as they could not believe how light, modern and stylish it is. They gave us good orders so many stores will have these in stock and on display around the UK from late January 2022.” Left: The new Electa travel system was the star of the Inglesina stand at Harrogate.

anything you can fit in it, from feeding bottles to toys. Through advances in technology and Vital Baby’s patented drying system, the advanced pro UV offers a drying time of 17 minutes and an equally impressive sterilise and dry time of 29 minutes – half that of its closest competitor. What’s more, the integrated HEPA filter eliminates dust and other airborne contaminants. Dean Tollman, marketing director at Vital Baby, says: “The reaction to our entire range, particularly our new NURTURE advanced pro UV steriliser and dryer (which won the Highly Commended BANTA award for Best New Product 2021), was great. The trade quickly understood the advantages that Vital Baby offers over our competitors. For independent retailers, it’s important that they can stand out from the mass market at the same time as offering quality, innovation and value to their customers - this is where Vital Baby really delivers. “The past year has been undeniably difficult but it has strengthened our relationships and Vital Baby as a team. As a small, dynamic team, we were able to not only focus on the goals we had set, but to also evolve and adapt to best serve our customers in their time of need. The team have put in a tremendous amount of work over the past year and we have high hopes for a successful and strong 2022.” Left: The new NURTURE Advanced Pro UK Sterliser can drysterilise almost anything that will fit inside it.

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05/11/2021 14:54


HARROGATE INTERNATIONAL NURSERY FAIR JOIE

Harrogate was the launchpad for Joie’s new Signature range, combining some of the company’s most popular products that look smart and work smarter. Featuring a classic, neutral pallet with on-trend earth tones and statement block quilting, the deluxe fabrics and soft knits are designed to keep little ones comfy, while adding a stylish twist. Sleek accents, including powder coated chassis are combined with tasteful vegan suede and leather details. i-Level is the i-Size travel companion car seat, designed for smoother sleep in the car. The lie flat lounger is made for safer spines and easy breathing. The Tri-Protect headrest features Intelli-Fit memory foam that’s engineered for optimal head and neck security. Next in the Signature range is i-Quest car seat, which features the Tri-Protect memory foam offering the head and neck protection Joie is famed for. Guard Surround Safety side impact protection panels slow down impact before it reaches the child, and the seat also has removeable inserts to create the perfect fit for growing babies. The i-Spin Grow seat is for birth to seven years and includes i-Size and 360° spin. The easy to install seat has six recline positions in both rear and forward facing modes,

as well as the Tri-Protect headrest. Meanwhile for older children, the i-Traver has 10 different positions to grow with the child and clever colour coded guides for a 3-point seat belt, as well as ISOFIX connectors. Pushchairs in the collection include Finiti – the 4-in-1 puschair with a springy flex comfort seat; Tourist – the compact and lightweight system which combines a carry cot, infant carrier and forward-facing seat; Aeria which features a height adjustable forward and parent facing seat; and Ramble, a luxurious lie-flat carry cot. Above: The Signature range combines some of Joie’s most popular products with a new, sleek design.

THULE

Thule used the show to give retailers and press a first look at both the new Thule Shine compact pushchair and the updated Thule Sapling carrier. Brand new for spring 2022, Thule Shine is a compact, urban stroller that allows parents to get out and about with their little ones from day one. The stroller’s lightweight, compact, and easyto-handle design is perfect for city life without compromising in its premium features. The Shine includes a padded and reversible reclining seat, large ventilated and extendable canopy, and a built-in adjustable leg rest. Thule Sapling allows parents to take their kids along for their hike. The baby backpack allows both parent and child to adventure in comfort. It is ergonomic and has great leg support and the seat is even machine washable. The new and updated version evolves the iconic child carrier into a modern, stylish baby backpack that allows families to live an active life. Emma Peak, UK sales and marketing manager, Active With Kids, comments: “Feedback on the new lines was extremely positive. We were writing orders from day one and were back-to-back with meetings with our key buyers and press. All of our key retailers have agreed to stock the new Thule Shine from launch in 2022. This has been a huge win for us already.” For the coming year, Emma says: “We want to continue to build great working relationships with our key retailers within the industry whilst laying strong foundations for an exciting 2022. We are thrilled to get back to life once again, and have big plans to maximise all opportunities available to us in the coming year.” Below: The feedback on the new Thule Shine was extremely positive at the Harrogate show.

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Lilliputiens creations are full of unexpected details and activities, a constant source of wonder, discovering and learning.

Juratoys UK Ltd. Tel: 0208 878 2133 E: sales@juratoys.co.uk

80_PPS November December 2021.indd 1

05/11/2021 14:57


EXECUTIVE PROFILE

Neil Montgomery, UK commercial director at Juratoys, talks adapting to the changing retail landscape, enjoying your work and wanting a sustainable level of business across all channels. Neil Montgomery.

“THERE IS NOTHING BETTER THAN PRESENTING NEW PRODUCTS TO CUSTOMERS” sales team who are managing to find an urgent solution for a customer, all their hard work turns potentially difficult situations into really positive outcomes. WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHANGE WITHIN THE PRESCHOOL INDUSTRY THAT YOU HAVE SEEN SINCE YOU HAVE WORKED IN IT?

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN AT JURATOYS? I have been at Juratoys for five years. WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT AT THE COMPANY? Despite facing some major challenges within the business, since I joined the company we have managed to deliver significant growth year on year, every year. My greatest achievement has been to build a great team of people that are committed to the business and collectively have allowed us to achieve this growth. FAVOURITE PART OF YOUR JOB? I love meeting with our customers and talking about life in toys, so trade shows are something I love to attend. We are very fortunate that we launch over 200 new products each year and there is nothing better than presenting them to our customers and seeing their reaction. It’s also true that I enjoy socialising and trade shows also provide the perfect opportunity to work hard and have a bit of fun at the same time.

“ We have managed to

deliver significant growth year on year, every year.”

I think the rise in online sales has been significant, especially in 2020 where the global pandemic meant many customers had to find new ways of trading when the physical stores were closed. We have all seen the retail landscape changing and its important that we adjust the way we work to meet these ever changing demands. WHAT’S THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE THAT YOU’VE EVER BEEN GIVEN?

To make sure that you enjoy your work and the minute you stop enjoying it, it’s time to move on. It’s very true that most of us work long hours and spend more time with our work colleagues than we do our own families, so work has to be something that you enjoy and you have fun. BIGGEST LESSON YOU TOOK AWAY FROM 2020? That your health is the most important thing. IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT THE PRESCHOOL BUSINESS, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?

WHO IS THE UNSUNG HERO IN YOUR COMPANY? Everyone in the team that isn’t me. We are very lucky to work in a really nice industry with very nice customers, but there will always be issues that crop up for different reasons and the team around me do a great job of dealing with these. Whether it is the customer service team who are working hard to resolve an issue or the

The industry has lost too many good retailers in recent years – a mixture of large chains and smaller independents all offering something unique. I would like there to be a sustainable level of business across all channels to ensure that we reduce the number of good retailers that go out of business.

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NEW PRODUCTS

WHAT’S NEW

FIZZ CREATIONS

Fizz Creations has collaborated once again with Penguin Ventures, part of Penguin Random House, to launch a brand-new collection of licensed gifts featuring Peter Rabbit. Playing to the award-winning strengths of Fizz, the range includes lighting and children’s games in addition to keepsake gifting. The new Peter Rabbit collection from Fizz Creations is available for pre-order now. Tel: 01903 327006 www.fizzcreations.com

LITTLECONCEPTS

ENESCO

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Bilibo, MOLUK is launching a brand-new collection of pastel colours. Bilibo was the first MOLUK toy designed and remains in many ways the blueprint for the whole collection. MOLUK believe that good toys should inspire and challenge children to be active and creative rather than simply entertain and keep them quiet. The range of six new colourways is available to order on the littleCONCEPTS B2B portal now. Tel: 07870 132595 www.littleconcepts.co.uk

Enesco is celebrating its multiaward-winning Peter Rabbit Baby Collection. Having already won a Gift of the Year award and a silver award in the UKMums.TV awards 2021, the collection has now been shortlisted in the Progressive Preschool Awards. In addition to this the Peter Rabbit Changing Backpack has also been shortlisted in the prestigious Mother and Baby Awards, 2022 in the Best Changing Bag Category. Tel: 01228 404022 www.enesco.co.uk

SNOOZESHADE SnoozeShade is delighted to unveil yet another fantastic solution into its award-winning collection. SnoozeShade Twin Deluxe is perfect for parents with two in tow! The double-width pushchair sunshade fits all twin buggies and double pushchairs with either two separate hoods, or one wide one. Thanks to its thoughtful design it is cleverly proportioned to suit both babies lying flat, or one lying flat while an older child looks out - making it ideal for twins, or little ones of different ages. Tel: 01932 951911 www.snoozeshade.com

LE TOY VAN This hand-crafted wooden toy box is the perfect place for children to store their treasures and toy accessories. Parents can also keep the playroom tidy and stylish with this elegant storage box which also doubles as a seat. The toy box has many appealing features including child safe soft closing hinges, turned wooden feet and embossed lettering, all finished in a neutral classic white and natural wood finish. Tel: 0208 9792036 www.letoyvan.co.uk

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Developed by Amanda Jenner, the UKs potty training expert, My Little Training Pants are an effective way to potty train, providing confidence to help the transition from nappies to big/girl boy pants.

★ A n effective way to potty train, providing confidence to help the transition from nappies to big girl/boy pants ★ Designed with a water-resistant layer enclosed between absorbent cotton layers to catch small accidents yet allow your little one to feel wetness, encouraging them to want to use their potty/toilet. ★ S oft and stretchy elastic leg openings to help catch little accidents. ★ S uper soft touch cotton fabric is breathable and provides comfort against the skin. Added stretch is perfect for active toddlers and kinder to their skin! ★ M achine washable at 40 degrees and reusable. ★ C omfortable and stretchy waistband to allow the child to learn to pull their pants up and down themselves. Encouraging independence to make them feel like a big girl/boy. ★ C ute, fun engaging characters to provide further encouragement and match their other favorite My Carry Potty ★ D esigned in the UK by Amanda Jenner, the UK’s toilet training expert. ★ 3 pairs of My Little Training Pants per pack.

Tel: 01202 763711

www.mycarrypotty.com

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NEW PRODUCTS

MY CARRY POTTY

THE LATEST NEW PRODUCTS FROM MY CARRY POTTY

MY CARRY POTTY PASTEL RANGE

MY LITTLE TRAINING PANTS

My Carry Potty looks forward to introducing its new, modern Pastel collection of Potties, Trainer Seats and Stools for 2022. These simple, contemporary designs will be available in fresh trend-led colourways of grey, pink, blue and green. It’s excited to be launching these in the new year for the modern parent and child.

Introducing My Little Training Pants, designed by Expert Amanda Jenner. The pants are made from super-soft fabrics that are designed with protective water-resistant layers, allowing little ones to feel the wetness. This protective layer gives toddlers the confidence to wear big boy/girl pants. Cute characters have been incorporated into the designs, not only to encourage little ones to wear them, but to introduce consistency and independence throughout potty training. As a brand, it realises the impact that nappies are having on the planet. It’s excited to release the training pants to reduce the waste on our landfills and help little ones on their potty training journey.

NEW FRIENDS TO MY CARRY POTTY

MY LITTLE FLASHCARDS

In addition to the Pastel range, My Carry Potty will be welcoming two new characters to the My Carry Potty family; Pink Dragon and Clownfish. The adorable Pink Dragon character has been created due to the success of the Green Dinosaur, which is loved by toddlers all over the globe. The brand-new, beautiful, bright Clownfish is the first sea animal to make it into the My Carry Potty family. These characters will be available with matching Trainer Seats, Step Stools and Potty Training Pants.

Through demand from its customers, Expert Amanda Jenner has created some beautifully illustrated potty training flashcards that help educate little ones before they start potty training. The flashcards are there to support, encourage and teach toddlers to communicate confidently during potty training. Included on the flashcards are illustrations that are designed to help many parents with children who have Special Educational Needs (SEN).

Tel: 01202 763711 www.mycarrypotty.com

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©WildBrain.

UK: Freephone 0800 590 599 / sales@smiffys.com | Export Sales: +44 1427 619 799 / export@smiffys.com

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65 NEW PRODUCTS

WHAT’S NEW DODDL Aimed at children from 18 months old, the ergonomic plate from doddl is expertly shaped to help young children transition on to a ‘grown-up plate’; the next step in successfully developing their mealtime skills. The gentle curve at the back helps keep food on the plate, making it easier for young children to use successfully. The wider flat front offers easy access to food with cutlery and the colourful splat focuses attention on to the middle of the plate. The non-slip base helps keep the plate stable but encourages children to learn how a ‘grown-up’ plate works at mealtimes. www.doddl.com

RAVENSBURGER

INFANTINO

This fun and educational ABC game from Ravensburger encourages children to learn the letters of the alphabet. All 28 unique, bright, colourful and self-correcting cards are printed on both sides, with one side showing the upper-case letters and the reverse, lower-case letters. Introducing upper case letters is a great step to move on to, once a child understands the connections between the pictures and the lowercase letters. Tel: 01869 363800 www.ravensburger.org

The Fox Cuddle Up Carrier from Infantino is as cute as it is functional, with the removable fox hood and a hoodie-inspired pocket for parent’s hands. This ergonomic carrier features a unique arched canopy hood that keeps baby in full sight and happily covered. The wide, ergonomic seat supports baby’s hips in the “M” position, keeping them supported from kneeto-knee with a naturally rounded back for a safe and comfy ride. www.uk.infantino.com

JANOD Janod’s Doctor’s Suitcase is sure to spark the light in any child’s imagination and inspire the doctor in little ones. Featuring ten wooden instruments – a syringe, reflex hammer, disinfectant, stethoscope, otoscope, thermometer, tongue depressor plus a prescription notebook, pencil and bandage roll, this extensive kit has got everything kids could possibly need to play doctors and patients and nurture their caring side. Tel: 0208 8782133 www.janod.com

ICKLE BUBBA Mark all those special moments with the Ickle Bubba Baby Milestone Gift Set, perfect for capturing all those big milestones in the early months. The stunning monochrome style features pops of yellow, so it is sure to look good in any nursery, or around the house. The set comes with a soft 100% jersey cotton blanket, to lie baby down and mark the moments with adorable felt frames. It also includes a chalkboard for personal messages, as well as ten milestone cards which record those all-important dates in baby’s development. Tel: 01554 707022 www.icklebubba.com

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CasdonToysUK

CasdonToysUK

Casdon1946

+44 (0)1253 766411

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www.casdon.com

Casdon Toys Ltd

toys@casdon.com

05/11/2021 14:59


65 NEW PRODUCTS

WHAT’S NEW ROSA & BO The Rosa & Bo Woodland Friends Nesting Babies have a fun twist on traditional Russian Dolls with loveable characters all the way from Santa’s workshop. Safety tested from birth and ideal for 12 months and up, this engaging toy supports development of hand eye coordination and motor skills, and for a festive surprise, once little ones have unveiled each layer to reach Bengi Bunny at the centre, they will be delighted to hear his twinkling chime. Tel: 01702 831700 www.rosaandbo.com

ICKLE BUBBA

KALOO

This three-piece knitted set from Ickle Bubba includes a super soft 100% cotton romper with popper fastening and a coordinating hat with 3D bear ears. It also comes with a cuddle llama toy - a perfect first companion for baby. The romper includes a popper fastening for quick changes. Tel: 01554 707022 www.icklebubba.com

Ideal from birth and made from the softest materials, the Tendresse doll from Kaloo will comfort little ones as they grow, soon becoming the star of any imaginative play and games, whilst looking right at home in a nursery from day one. Each doll includes a delicate ribbon necktie and soft, long legs for easy gripping, but each Tendresse has its own individual style, outfit and personality! Packaged in an elegant gift box, Tendresse make the perfect Christmas gift to find under the tree. Tel: 0208 8782133 www.kaloo.com

SMARTGAMES A new addition to the Smart range this winter, is Grabbit. Hungry rabbits are jumping around the vegetable garden, different vegetables become visible as the rabbits look under leaves, but can children remember which vegetable is planted where? If not, animals that live underground will take their vegetables back! Will they be the first to collect all four different vegetables? Grabbit stimulates the following cognitive skills: concentration, flexible thinking, memory, planning and problem solving. Tel: 01903 885669 www.smarttoysandgames.co.uk

LADYBIRD Ladybird is delighted to extend its much-loved and award-winning Baby Touch book collection, as it welcomes the new interactive playbook Fairy Tales. Colourful and engaging, the latest addition to the series features easy grab tabs and touch-and-feel textures throughout the story, inspiring senses from day one. All the favourite fantasy characters feature in delightful and bright illustrations on each page, alongside a new surface for little hands to explore. Tel: 020 71393000 www.penguin.co.uk

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RETAILER REVELATIONS

BEST SELLERS

ODD SOCKS

“Our organic brands sell well and we have a small toy collection with our Kaloo My First Doll being a star.”

IN NUMBERS Family owned Little Poppets started life in Llandudno, Wales in 2012. Two years later, the business moved to Sevenoaks in Kent, where it still is today, and where it has grown to be one of the largest independent nursery stores in the south east.

OLD AND NEW FRIENDS

Above: The Odd Socks store is small but mighty.

“We have four people in our team.” “The average spend per customer is £30.” “There were four boxes in our last delivery.” “We refresh our window display every week.” “The shop is tiny! We are about 5m x 6m with a smaller area at the back about 3m x 4m that includes our storage area – small but mighty.”

Above: Despite being small, the retailer offers a wide range of children’s clothing.

GOING DIGITAL

Since lockdowns started, owner, Julia Warnes, says: “We have put nearly all our clothing online and focused more on reaching out to customers with news and details of products and what’s happening, just to have us fresh in their minds.”

“The product we point people to for a really useful baby gift is the Nodpod – a baby blanket with legs that is made here in England in some lovely designs. We found them when we started and they were new in business as well so it seems a natural partnership and we’ve been working with them ever since – they’re not available anywhere else locally.”

STORE STATS • • • • •

Above: Odd Socks is based in Beccles in Suffolk.

Julia and her team were pleased to reopen stores after lockdown: “We can only offer the great customer service face to face – when someone wants to look at some different items before deciding, we can do that. You can touch and feel the different brands and see what you get for your money – totally impossible online.”

MY HERO!

Above: Nodpod is the item the team always recommends and Odd Socks has been supplying the product since the shop opened.

“I have worked with my main five suppliers from the beginning. It takes time to understand what the customer likes, etc. Our newest brand is Blue Seven, which is trying to fill the best value items while still being ethical and on trend.”

TOP SERVICE

WHAT’S HOT?

Above: Owner Julia aims to give great customer service in-store.

“In this area, baby pink and baby blue is not so strong as the louder colours from the organic suppliers, but still has a place in-store here. I am conscious people are looking for affordability so it’s always on my mind when I buy.”

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