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ZOO PLUSH Meet our soft and huggable friends for little ones!



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March/April 2013

this month JULY/AUGUST 2019



Max Publishing Ltd, United House, North Road, London N7 9DP T: 020 7700 6740 F: 020 7607 6411

Moving into the summer months marks a distinct change of pace for many of us - the schools have broken up, families are heading off on holiday and spending patterns change. Parents are – for the most part – spending their money on holiday clubs, ice-cream and paddling pools. Unless they really have to, visiting the shops to buy a new buggy is way down on their list of priorities, Above: Samantha Loveday, Rob Willis and Jacqui Parr, part of the Progressive somewhere behind putting sun cream on a Preschool team. wriggly toddler for the fifteenth time and convincing the kids that the pub garden really is much more fun than the park. Although parents do love buying new buggies, as consumer watchdog Which? reported recently – the average amount spent on a pushchair is just over £340, compared to less than £120 for a car seat. While it’s interesting to see the figures noted down so starkly, it’s not entirely surprising – pushchairs have been increasingly seen as a fashion accessory in recent years, with many consumers willing to spend up to £1,000 for the latest must-have model. Despite being an essential, life-saving, legal requirement car seats simply don’t seem to hold the same influence over consumer spend. Luckily, that’s not the case for all essentials which we cover in this issue. Although each family will naturally have its own definition of what constitutes an essential nursery product, the market remains strong for the basics, with parents willing to spend more for better quality product, particularly those which are subject to constant use. We have also focused on a number of different toy sectors in this issue – soft toys and plush is a perenially popular category, while an in-depth focus on infant toys (which we loosely define as being anything suitable for newborns up to 12m+) highlights the importance of that sector as well. In fact, it’s so important that we’ve added it as a new product category within the Progressive Preschool Awards, along with lifestyle accessories – the backpack/ umbrella/water bottle category. The product categories are closed for entry now, but there’s still plenty of time to enter the marketing or retail – or to nominate someone else you think has done a great job over the past year. Visit ppsawards. for more information and share the love. Have a great summer and we’ll see you on the other side!

The Progressive Preschool Team ISSN 2515-8570

Rob Willis, Jacqui Parr, Samantha Loveday, John Barry Jo Pilcher, Ian Hyder, Jakki Brown, Warren Lomax


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The UK’s only baby trade show

Ensure your products are trending in 2020 #harrogatenurseryfair #babytradeshow #nottobemissedevent #increasesales

29th - 31st March 2020

Harrogate Convention Centre


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Excitement grows for the Progressive Preschool Awards 2019


ith just weeks to go before the Retail and Marketing Award categories close, the preparations for this year's Progressive Preschool Awards – the annual celebration of the preschool industry – are well underway. Entries for the product categories have been coming in thick and fast, with thousands of toys, baby equipment and a whole host of other product currently waiting for the retail judging to take place. Entries are also now open for the Marketing Award and the Retail Award categories, which close on Friday 16 August and Wednesday 31 July, respectively. The Marketing Award celebrates amazing marketing campaigns at both trade and consumer level. It is judged by a panel of hugely experienced marketing

experts who will consider the campaign’s planning, execution and measured success. This year’s Marketing Award – which is free to enter – is sponsored by Azaria PR, which is also very generously offering free impartial advice to any companies looking to enter the category. Nominating a retailer (or selfnominating) for one of the Retail Award categories is straightforward and completely free. “These awards give suppliers, retailers and other members of the preschool industry the opportunity to really show what they have achieved over the last 12 months,” said Rob Willis, publishing director of Progressive Preschool. “In the current retail climate that could mean any number of things, from

high-profile promotions to outstanding customer service or charity initiatives. We want to make this year’s event the best yet, so please do get entering!” Winners will be announced at a lavish event at the Grosvenor House Hotel on Tuesday 5 November, surrounded by over 400 suppliers, retailers and industry pioneers. For more information on how to enter, please visit www.ppsawards. or contact the Max headquarters in London on 0207 700 6740.

Playmobil renews intu sponsorship activity Frugi celebrates 15 years of ethical business

Award-winning, organic cotton childrenswear brand, Frugi is celebrating 15 years of ethical business by sharing a unique view behind the scenes with its customers and retailers. The mini-series, ‘15 years of Frugi’, takes a journey to India visiting the organic cotton farmers, tailors and factories and bringing to life the Frugi supply chain, which is certified by the Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS), the highest social and environmental standard possible. “Founders Lucy and Kurt created a business 15 years ago that has seen exceptional growth year-on-year because they stuck to their beliefs of strong ethical and environmental values,” said ceo Hugo Adams who joined the business last August.

Playmobil has renewed its sponsorship of shopping centre owner intu’s family club after more than 100,000 children joined the initiative within a year of its launch. intu launched the scheme last May to create a year-round programme of interactive activities and exclusive offers for families, following research it carried out showing the importance parents and children

Amazon opens ten high street stores across the UK

Online retail giant Amazon has opened its debut Clicks and Mortar store at St Mary’s Gate in Manchester, the first of ten temporary branches which will be opening across the UK. The second branch will be opening in Dublin in late July. The Clicks and Mortar chain will be offering everything from food and drink to electronics, cosmetics and homeware and are part of a year-long initiative which sees Amazon aiming to help 100 small businesses obtain a foot-hold on the UK high street.

Preschool names among Argos’ top toys for 2019 Argos kickstarted the countdown to Christmas announcing its top 12 toys for 2019, made up of big name licences, cuddly animals, current trends and new toy innovations. The preschool category is represented with the inclusion of Character Options’ latest Peppa Pig play-set, plus Spin Master’s PAW Patrol Mighty Pups Super Paw Jet. The toys will be available to buy from Argos from Saturday July 27.

place on spending quality time together. “The intu family club is a fantastic initiative by intu and one that we’ve been thrilled to partner with them on since its launch last year,” said Jamie Dickinson, marketing manager at Playmobil. “Together we’ve been able to reach 100,000 children and Playmobil fans, and share with them the benefits family play can bring.”

Trunki reports more than 50% rise in profits

Magmatic, the company behind the iconic Trunki brand, has increased profits by 51% and made further gains across Europe according to its latest set of accounts. The Bristol-based company which is best known for the pioneering children’s ride-on suitcase reported earnings of £777,000 for the year ended December 2018 (up from £517,000 in 2017). Total sales rose to a record £9.5m (increasing from £9.3m in 2017). Magmatic also entered a number of new markets for the first time and reported its continued growth across the EU, with sales up by 22% and particularly strong performances in France (up 27%) and Germany (up 15%). International sales now represent 63% of the business (compared to 57% in 2017). Right: Trunki is bestknown for its ride-on children's suitcase.

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Toymaster joins BTHA’s ‘Don’t Toy with Children’s Safety’ campaign


he buying group Toymaster has written to its local MP asking for support in helping the BTHA and to further encourage the government to address the issue of unsafe toys. The BTHA recently launched a white paper calling for action from the government to ensure unsafe toys are removed from the market.

Vital Baby launches Nurture

Baby product company Vital Baby has launched a new range – Nurture – aimed at introducing the family-run brand into families from the earliest stage. The new Nurture range has been created to meet newborn's needs with a range of baby feeding, sterilising and changing products designed to help make bringing up baby as easy as possible. “The feeling of nurturing and caring which comes from family and friends is how we want all new parents and carers to feel when they join our vital family,” says Vital Baby director, Dean Tollman.

The Pud Store opens fourth shop in Sheffield

Independent childrenswear retailer The Pud Store has been putting its expansion plans into action with a new store, which officially opened on Saturday 11 May at Sheffield Crystal Peaks shopping centre. Founded by Frances Bishop in 2014, the company – which was named Best Independent Preschool Apparel Retailer at the Progressive Preschool Awards 2017 – now operates from four stores strategically placed across the north of England, in Mansfield, Newark, Doncaster and Sheffield.

Below: Founder Frances Bishop at the store opening.

The move came after a study across online platforms found 58% of toys selected for assessment were non-compliant with the toy safety regulations in the UK and 22% of the total had serious safety issues. The BTHA – which represents responsible toy makers across the UK – has been actively raising awareness that toys sold by third-party

PAW Patrol to be given Bricklive treatment

Live Company Group – the owner of Bricklive – has secured a new licensed partnership with Nickelodeon. The five-year agreement will see the company produce Nickelodeonthemed promotional exhibits, with PAW Patrol launching this summer 2019, followed by a Nick Jr. tour in autumn 2019. The PAW Patrol Bricklive exhibit will consist of 15 models including Chase, Ryder, Marshall and the gang, as well as a 2m tall Control Tower and a selfie zone Fire Engine using a whopping 160,000 bricks. Below: Caption to go with the above picture for Paw Patrol. Caption to go with the above picture for Paw Patrol.

sellers on online marketplaces pose significant safety risks for the British public. Toymaster has also asked all of its members and suppliers to write to their local MPs asking for them to back the campaign.

Preschool animation set to star at Brand Licensing Europe

This year's Brand Licensing Europe exhibition will shine a light on the creative powerhouse that is the British and European animation industry at this year’s show. A special pavilion and ‘unmissable’ keynote will focus on the sector, with the BLE team inviting studios to come forward and take part. “The animation industry in Britain and Europe is so exciting right now. It's a real cluster of creativity and vibrancy with studios of all sizes producing inspired, innovative – and also commercially viable – content,” explained event director Anna Knight. “We want to celebrate these studios, their stories and successes at BLE and give them a platform from which to shout and do business and we really hope they will jump on the bandwagon and take advantage of all of the opportunities open to them to show retailers and licensees exactly what they have to offer.” Brand Licensing Europe 2019 runs from 1 – 3 October 2019 at London’s ExCeL.

Mothercare downsizes boardroom to reduce costs

Nursery and maternity retailer Mothercare has reduced the size of its board of directors in the latest bid to help overturn its financial losses and regain stability. Chief executive Mark Newton-Jones revealed that the board now has directors who will be more hands-on with the company’s restructuring. The reshuffle is expected to halve Mothercare’s board costs next year. “We had a board that was of a scale appropriate for a much larger company,” Mark revealed. “We now have a board that is very operational and is contributing beyond governance.” Mothercare recently posted its financial results for the year ended 30 March where it reported positively on its progress, despite UK sales falling by almost 9% over the past year, and a pre-tax loss of £87.3m (compared with £72.8m the previous year).

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New Range fo r

1.8m Books Sold


Since Launch in Spring 2018


Disney Enterprises, Enterprises, Inc. Inc. All All rights rights reserved. © 2019 Disney Disney/Pixar. All © 2019 Disney/Pixar. All rights rights reserved. reserved. MARVEL. All © 2019 MARVEL. All rights rights reserved. reserved. Animation LLC. LLC. All All Rights Rights Reserved. Reserved. © 2019 DreamWorks Animation International Inc. Inc. All All Rights Rights Reserved. Reserved. © 2019 Viacom International Nickelodeon, and all related titles, logos and characters are International Inc. Inc. trademarks of Viacom International

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The Entertainer embraces charitable initiatives Left: The Entertainer is making a difference.


oy retail specialist The Entertainer is celebrating its customers’ generosity after raising £3 million and will be growing its partnership with the National Autistic Society this autumn. Customers across the UK have raised the money for children's charities across the country, including nine of the country’s leading children’s hospitals, simply by rounding up their purchases to the nearest pound using Pennies, the digital charity box. Charities benefiting from the donations include Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity, Alder Hey Children’s Charity, Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity and Bristol Children’s Hospital Charity’s The Grand Appeal.

MPs call for more information on reusable nappies

“We are so grateful to our customers for their generosity through Pennies at the till,” said Gary Grant, founder and executive chairman of The Entertainer. “The pennies donated have accumulated to a phenomenal amount of money... and made a tremendous amount of difference to children’s charities all over the country.” Later this year, The Entertainer will be driving forward its partnership with The National Autistic Society to launch

Booking for Harrogate now open

MPs and campaigners met in parliament on Wednesday 11 June to call on the government to provide parents with more information about using reusable nappies. The House of Commons roundtable was attended by a cross-party group of MPs, civil servants, NHS midwives and mums, who came together to discuss the Nappies (Environmental Standards) Bill which aims to reduce single-use plastics in disposable nappies and cut costs for local government and young families. The bill was launched by David Linden, MP for Glasgow East, and looks to establish an industry and government-led voucher scheme to promote reusable nappies as well as legislation to ensure manufacturers cannot make false eco-friendly claims.

Booking for Harrogate International Nursery Fair 2020 is now open to all nursery, toy and gift suppliers, with the stand spaces on general sale. New companies wishing to take part in next year’s HINF – which is taking place at the Harrogate Convention Centre from 29 to 31 March 2020 – can now secure their preferred space. Full details and booking forms are available on the website at www.nurseryfair. com, or if you would like to discuss options contact Adrian Sneyd on 01902 880906 or

LEGO to support home learning with EasyPeasy partnership

Left: Elmer: coming to a TV near you!

The LEGO Group has partnered with digital early years social enterprise, EasyPeasy, focusing on innovations to support the home learning environment for families with children aged between two and five years old. The LEGO Group and EasyPeasy have worked together to create eight new videos to inspire families with new ideas of how to learn through play at home. Above: The games will be “We are delighted to have entered into a on EasyPeasy’s app. partnership with EasyPeasy, who share our longstanding commitment to help children learn and develop skills through play including critical thinking, creativity, confidence and communication skills,” said Olivia Lankester, global head of social impact at the LEGO Group.

Autism Hour 2019. Together they will be encouraging other shops, businesses and shopping centres across the UK to hold Autism Hours throughout the second week of October (5-12). This involves shops and businesses turning down music and other noise, teaching employees about autism, dimming the lights and helping the public understand autism. “We are delighted to sponsor the National Autistic Society’s Autism Hour for the second year,” said Gary. “The Entertainer is somewhere for children to explore their imagination and become inspired by all of the toys available and so we hope by supporting Autism Hour in addition to running our own Quiet Hour initiative, more families will feel confident when it comes to shopping with us.”

LICENSING LOWDOWN ▶ T  he Little Princess is to continue her reign on Channel 5’s Milkshake, with a further two series confirmed. ▶ Funrise has secured a new multi-year toy licence for a range of vehicles with construction equipment specialist, Caterpillar. ▶ A  raft of key additions have been welcomed to the licensing programme for CBeebies new hit preschool show, Moon and Me. Minor Entertainment has been added as global live entertainment partner, while Amscan, Orange Tree Toys, Redan Publishing and Whitehouse Leisure have also come onboard. ▶ A  new exclusive Classic Peter Rabbit collection of clothing and accessories launched with Joules in late May, featuring 22 items of apparel, including babygros and t-shirts. ▶ E  lmer the Patchwork Elephant will be making his TV debut, with animation studio Factory partnering with brand owner Andersen Press to create a new animated series. ▶ M  arking the long-awaited release of the live-action Lion King film this summer, both M&Co (Dennicci) and Primark have launched baby and toddler apparel collections. ▶ Coolabi Group is celebrating 50 years since the first transmission of Clangers with a new third series, as well as a raft of special events.

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Which? publishes average spend for mobility products


onsumer watchdog Which? has published an article revealing the average amount that parents spend on pushchairs and car seats in 2019. The research – which saw Which? speaking to almost 5,000 parents and carers – found that parents splash out more than twice as much on a pushchair as they do car seats. The average spend on a new pushchair is £340.32 compared with just £119.67 for a child car seat (£144 for a firststage seat). A third of parents who answered the survey spent £50 or less on their car seat. “Many parents don’t want to fork out too much for a car seat, as our survey shows, but are willing to splash out hundreds on a pushchair,” stated the article, which also points out that a car seat is an essential – and legally required – piece of safety kit.

The official consumer advice Which? gave was that parents should not scrimp on a car seat and should buy the best they possibly can, possibly cutting cash from a pushchair purchase and investing it in the car seat instead. “We crash-test each car seat we review,” the article continued, “and it’s uncommon to see a cheap car seat that provides enough protection to become a Best Buy.” Below: The average car seat cost is just under £120.

Autumn Fair will be moving to the Atrium at the NEC this September as part of a re-edited offering designed specifically to facilitate connections between suppliers and retailers. Preschool exhibitors such as Cheeky Chompers and Hippychick will be showing within the play and tech sector in Hall 5, while gift companies such as The Little Dog Laughed will be based in Hall 6, 7 and 8 – which as part of the new layout, surround Hall 5. The 2019 re-edit will also be bringing together the show’s sectors, creating a new sourcing and exhibiting destination for UK and international buyers and suppliers respectively. Visit for more information.

Last few places remaining for K+J UK Pavilion As Cologne’s Kind + Jugend show approaches, the last few places in the Baby Products Association's UK Pavilion are still available. Taking place from 19 – 22 September, K+J is one of the world’s largest baby trade shows and is firmly established as the most important international trading event of the year. “The UK Pavilion is a preferable location to exhibit at the show,

Luxury pushchair and baby products brand iCandy has been identified as one of London Stock Exchange Group’s 1,000 Companies to Inspire Britain 2019. The report is a celebration of the UK’s fastest-growing and most dynamic small and medium sized businesses (SMEs), with companies representing over 40 sectors and spanning every country and region across the UK. “As a British family business we are delighted to be included in this prestigious report,” says joint ceo Bradley Appel. “The accolade is a testament to our dedication to British design, craftsmanship and technical innovation.”

Gro teams up with Millpond Sleep Clinic

Peppa Pig ready to jump Autumn Fair moves to into the music charts new home at the NEC Peppa Pig brand owner eOne has released My First Album, the first ever Peppa Pig music album. The album was released in Englishspeaking territories including the UK, US and Australia as part of the brand’s 15th anniversary celebrations and marks Peppa Pig’s first entry into the official music charts. “We’re very excited to be releasing an official Peppa Pig music album for the first time in the brand’s 15-year history,” said eOne’s Rebecca Harvey, evp global brand management, Family & Brands.

iCandy named one of LSE’s ‘1,000 companies to inspire Britain’

particularly for smaller companies which benefit from the additional support and assistance offered by the BPA,” explained Adrian Sneyd, UK Pavilion organiser. “Companies should get in touch as soon as possible as we only have a few spaces left.” For more information about exhibiting within the UK Pavilion, give Adrian a call on 01902 880906, or email

Baby sleep experts at The Gro Company have joined forces with Millpond Sleep Clinic to help parents make sure their baby sleeps safely this summer. “Making sure you’re prepared early on is essential,” said founder Mandy Gurney, “which is why we’re working with The Gro Company to share tips and advice on how to make sure babies sleep safely and well as the season changes.” A leader in safe infant sleep, The Gro Company has also released two new products ahead of the summer season – The Superlight Grosnug and the Groromper Light.

NEWS IN BRIEF ▶ Global baby products company Cybex has launched a revolutionary electronic stroller; the first of its kind to be available on the UK market. ▶ Award-winning baby product company Close has partnered with baby charity Bliss and ethical preschool retailer Babipur to create a new Pop-in charity print. ▶ Iconic high-end stroller company Bugaboo has launched its most compact stroller yet – the Bugaboo Ant, a super-portable travel stroller. ▶ As part of its 2019 campaign to support retailers, Playmobil has sponsored a large banner wrap which takes pride of place outside Banba Toymaster, Mary Street, Dublin. ▶ Rockit, the award-winning portable baby rocker, is launching into the US market following its current success in over 40 territories around the world.

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Real Store Club offers retail marketing solutions


he Real Store Club – an initiative which aims to support walk-in toy and gift stores by providing usable idea and tools for effective marketing activities – has been launched by Fiesta Crafts’ head of marketing Rob Trup. In response to the current challenging high street retail environment. Real Store Club will be creating practical free resources to share the best contemporary marketing and sales activities its members. Upon subscribing, members receive a booklet with a

collection of useful marketing ideas and tips and with the promise of much more to come in the future. “The dilemma faced by retailers is that not only has online shopping led to less footfall and sales, but the transformed digital consumer landscape means that previously ‘tried and tested’ marketing techniques are not providing nearly as much business as they used to,” explained Rob. “The good news is that we have seen lots of innovative and creative retailers across all retail sectors around the world who are bucking the trend and employing successful marketing tactics to bring back customers and make money.” Retailers can subscribe for free at Left: Caption needed for the picture on the left. It looks like a drawing of a high street.

Danilo gets official accreditation for My First Calendar range Danilo’s ‘My First Calendar’ range has received official endorsement from Fundamentally Children, meaning the products and supporting marketing campaign can now feature the organisation’s stamp of approval. A group of preschool children tested the range, with the products rated on fun, ease of use and skills developed and approved for the endorsement. The interactive range features Peppa Pig, PJ Masks and PAW Patrol and allows children to turn wheels to find the days and months, with a wipe-clean panel for noting important play dates. “We have always believed that this range is the perfect aid for children learning about time and seasons, and this has now been acknowledged by Fundamentally Children,” said Daniel Prince, md of Danilo.

Joie Baby partners with Variety for nationwide SEN programme

Joie Baby has partnered with children’s charity Variety to donate the first of ten Variety Sunshine Coaches to St Nicholas School in Kent as part of nationwide SEN programme. The Sunshine Coach is the first of a fleet which has been donated by Joie Baby to be delivered to schools which specialise in special educational needs (SEN). The rest of the coaches will be presented individually to deserving schools across the UK. “We are humbled to be joining Variety on its mission to help communities across the UK,” said Joie Baby’s managing director David Welsh.

Above: Caption needed for the picture on the above. It is for Joie Baby and the partners Variety.

Celebrating 10 years of ewan the dream sheep

Multi-award winning brand SweetDreamers is celebrating ten years of its iconic bestselling sleep aid, ewan the dream sheep. Having first hit the shelves in 2009, almost one million ewans have now been sold by over 200 UK retailers and in over 30 countries worldwide. “I’m just so grateful to all the ewan fans out there and for everyone who has helped along this extraordinary 10-year journey.” commented founder Lynda Harding. “I look forward to the next ten years as we continue to develop ewan to make him the best he can be, as well as launch even more exciting products from the SweetDreamers family.”

Azaria celebrates 15 years in business

Family specialist PR and Marketing agency Azaria PR celebrated its 15th birthday in June this year. First launched in 2004, managing director Amber Steventon first started out with just two small clients in London and has now helped over 100 brands, held 61 events, attended 45 Baby Shows, written over 720 press releases and secured over 75,000 pieces of media coverage. Azaria has worked with amazing brands such as Maxi-Cosi, Little Tikes, Stokke, Joie, Chicco and Skip Hop, (to name but a few). “I am so proud of Azaria and all we have achieved over the last 15 years,” commented Amber. “I’ve had the privilege to work with some amazing people at some truly wonderful brands, who have inspired and challenged me. I’m so excited for Azaria’s future as I drive it forward with the same energy and determination as day one.”

PEOPLE NEWS ▶ After 31 years representing Character Options to retailers in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, Philip Richardson is to retire from the role at the end of August this year. ▶ Commonwealth gold medalist and world swimming champion Karen Pickering has been appointed by leading nursery brand Close as the brand ambassador for its awardwinning Pop-in Swim collection. ▶ The Insights People is continuing with its ambitious expansion plans with a number of promotions, new appointments and a move to new office space. ▶ The Insights People has promoted Jenny Kieras to the role of chief operating officer and Jonathan Watson to chief product officer, while experienced toy industry executive David Martin has joined as chief commercial officer. ▶ Golden Bear has confirmed the appointment of well-known and respected toy industry exec John Harper as its non-executive chairman, as John Hales – cofounder and long-time chairman of the toy company – will be retiring after 40 years. ▶ University Games and Paul Lamond Games has bolstered its marketing team, welcoming Gemma Lewington as its new head of marketing.

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or the first half of 2019, consumer confidence within the UK is starting to look a bit sunnier, even though in reality it remains negative (-10%). The government is forecasting an economy showing modest growth with inflation under control, unemployment at a multi-decade low and the employment rate at a record high. For this potential scenario to become a reality, consumers will need to be convinced in heart, head and wallet that Brexit’s murkiness is finally over. Unfortunately this remains unlikely with the potentially dark clouds on the horizon representing the next EU deadline date of 31 October. The total durables market reported upon by GfK only showed a moderate growth (+1%) year-onyear. Key areas struggle to have a consistent growth as consumers’ footfall is lower and physical stores continue to suffer from increasing online competition. Over the last year, the baby care market has recorded a -5.5% decline in value and a -2.0% drop in volume sales. With the birth rate in the country hitting the lowest level in the last ten years, it’s not entirely surprising that we are reporting a such negative market context. Highchairs and baby monitors have been the worst performing categories, with a double digit negative trend year-on-year, both in value and in volume.

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Above: It’s not been a good 12 months for the baby monitor category.

The baby monitors market has declined for the second year in a row and this downward trend has continued to show negative results across each of the last 12 consecutive months as some of the major brands are seeing steep drops in sales. In the baby monitor category, even looking at the sector from different angles, there are no positive scenarios. Models with an observation camera were down by 8%, while those without a camera showed a loss of over 20% year-on-year. Another category segment which is suffering is the sensor monitors (models with a sensor pad which is usually placed underneath the baby’s Below: GfK’s figures break down the market trends across the monitor market.

As one of the world’s largest market research companies, GfK offers retailers and suppliers valuable insight into the way people live, think and shop. Here, client insight manager Marco Salerno takes takes a look at the current market for baby monitors. mattress). This category saw sales plummet by over 30% in value and close to 40% in volume. It’s notable to see how, in the last year, even sales of the more recent smart baby monitor models (with a wireless connection) were significantly down by 25% year on year. The market for smart baby monitors did show some growth across 2016 and 2017 with new model launches entering the market at a rapid rate but these levels now have fallen back again. This dynamic could also be seen as a warning message for both brands and retailers saying how parents might not fully trust the more hightech features on these products. The lower sales could be in response to the recent events which have shown they could be more vulnerable to network attacks. On top of that, the average price of £125 (twice the overall baby monitor category average) could very well be a major barrier for shoppers.”


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FUNDAMENTALLY CHILDREN’S CHRISTMAS PICKS In her latest column for Progressive Preschool, Anna considers how independent retailers can make the most of their choices in the months leading up to that all-important Q4 and the Christmas buying period. or exciting facts that bring the book to life. Parents can switch between English and French to immerse their toddler in a second language too.

Anna Taylor is a research assistant at Fundamentally Children, an organisation dedicated to helping children develop skills through play.


s it Christmas already? Who am I kidding – it’s Christmas every day when you’re in the toy industry! At Fundamentally Children, home of the Good Toy Guide, we’re super excited to give you a little sneak peek at some of the toys and other great products that will be featuring in our Christmas Guide this year. As always, they’ve all been tested by children and reviewed by our child development experts, so you can rest assured that they will make quality Christmas gifts for your shoppers. So let’s take a look at what has made it onto this year’s list.... LeapFrog Learning Friends 100 Words Book (1+)

A colourful picture book that is the perfect screen-free, multi-sensory experience to reinforce language skills. Children simply touch a picture to hear one of a hundred ageappropriate words chosen by learning experts, silly sounds Right: LeapFrog Learning Friends 100 Words Book.

children’s fine motor control, an important prerequisite skill for holding a pencil, doing up buttons and zips on clothes and much more.

Above: VTech Toot-Toot Drivers Garage.

VTech Toot-Toot Drivers Garage (1+) An incredibly interactive play set that features lights and music, plus nine SmartPoint locations that react when driven over. More Toot-Toot tracks and vehicles can be added to extend playtime even further. The Toot-Toot Drivers Garage is great at encouraging early imaginative play, while allowing children to experiment with cause and effect by whizzing their car down the ramp or setting off the multitude of interactive features. Geomag Magicube River Animals (1.5+)

These clever magnetic cubes enable children to build upwards or even sideways! Children love stacking the blocks as high Above: Geomag Magicube River as possible, Animals. or – with a little help from an adult – they can build a 3D animal puzzle. Magicube River Animals is a great set for encouraging creativity and logical thinking as well as developing

Above: Geomag Magicube Free Building.

Geomag Magicube Free Building (1.5+) A cool magnetic construction set that gets children experimenting with the invisible forces of magnetism. The magnets help to keep the structure steady while children build towers taller than themselves, or create all sorts of 3D models. This is a great kit for encouraging creativity and problem solving, while also developing fine motor control. TOMY John Deere Build A Johnny Tractor (1.5+)

A working tractor with 12 chunky removable parts, children can take this apart and rebuild it over and over again. The battery-powered drill with interchangeable

Below: TOMY John Deere Build A Johnny Tractor.


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Green Board Games presents...

G G I ER B A range for 2019

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FUNDAMENTALLY CHILDREN COLUMNIST 23 attachments can be used on the

screws as part of children’s role play. The Build A Johnny Tractor is excellent for developing children’s logical thinking skills as they work out where the pieces fit, as well as encouraging imaginative play.

Geomag Classic Confetti 88 (3+) A colourful construction toy that features magnetic bars and steel spheres, brilliant for building all sorts of 3D shapes and structures. The magnets ensure that models are secure and stable, but are really easy to deconstruct and reconstruct as required. Geomag Classic Confetti brings that important creative element to STEM learning – there are no right or wrong answers, just unlimited, imaginative play.

Above: Learning Resources 1-2-3 Build It! – Rocket-Train-Helicopter.

Learning Resources 1-2-3 Build It! – Rocket-Train-Helicopter (2+) A set of chunky mix-and-match parts that lets children build and rebuild three working vehicles. They can then enjoy lots of imaginative play as they blast off to distant stars aboard a rocket, fly through the air above a make-believe city with a helicopter, or chug down the tracks toward the station with a train. Fitting the pieces together also helps to strengthen children’s problem solving skills. Learning Resources Playfoam Combo 8-Pack (3+)

An amazingly squishy creative material that never dries out and is mess free – no sticking to hands, hair, clothes or carpet. Available in eight vibrant colours, Playfoam is fantastic for moulding into shapes or as a sensory material to fiddle with. It’s ideal for strengthening those hand and finger muscles to develop children’s fine motor control, which children need to hold a pencil and learn vital self-care skills, such as doing up buttons and zips on clothes. Below: Learning Resources Playfoam Combo 8-Pack

Above: Geomag Classic Confetti 88.

SEEKERS Scavenger Hunt (3+) A thrilling scavenger hunt checklist that makes it really easy for parents to take their children off on an outdoor adventure. The set includes a waterproof magnetic board and 12 reversible ‘Nature Trail’ magnets (so children can ‘check off’ the Above: SEEKERS objects they Scavenger Hunt. have found), plus drawstring bags to keep it all safe. More themed magnet sets are also available, including ‘Car Journey’ and ‘Supermarket’. SEEKERS Scavenger Hunt is a wonderful way to get children outdoors and active both mentally and physically! Sylvanian Families Sunshine Nursery Bus (4+)

A lovely little vehicle for small world play, with lots of hidden features children will love to explore. The roof converts into a ladder and slide or a seesaw and the chairs can be removed to reveal a splash pool. Children can use their baby figures from other Sylvanian Families sets to bring the Sunshine Nursery Bus to life. Creating stories and caring for the baby Sylvanians is great for encouraging imaginative, nurturing play.

Above: Sylvanian Families Sunshine Nursery Bus..

Sylvanian Families Sweet Raspberry Home (4+) The perfect little one-storey starter home, with a bed and a rabbit baby figure from the Chocolate family included. Children love small world play and not only is this wonderful for developing their imaginations, it’s also a great way to develop language skills as they act out stories with a character. The Sweet Raspberry Home can also be connected to other houses from the Sylvanian Families range to extend play further.

Above: Sylvanian Families Sweet Raspberry Home.

First Wonder Box (4+ years) Activity subscription boxes crammed full of things to make, do, and learn - First Wonder Boxes are the gift that keeps on giving. Children love getting their own personalised box delivered straight to their door and, for the eco-conscious, even the box itself turns into a game, activity, or craft. With 40 different themes currently available, First Wonder Boxes are an excellent way to engage children in learning about all sorts of exciting topics, from dinosaurs to Ancient Egypt. Below: First Wonder Box.

If you’d like a copy of the Fundamentally Children Christmas Guide or just want to know more, please get in touch with marketing@


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Kids Insights finds that just 50% of parents are confident they’ve never bought counterfeit goods and highlights the challenges this brings for toy and baby product manufacturers.


he retail landscape is changing rapidly, not least among new and expecting parents. The latest research from The Insights People shows they are becoming increasingly priceconscious and placing less emphasis on quality, which creates a challenge for brands, as they having to fight harder for customers’ attention in a value-focused landscape and also have to confront the growing threat of fake products. All 11 of the product categories we analyse saw parents place less emphasis on quality, with an average fall of 16% in February- April 2019 compared to the previous three months. In contrast, the importance of price rose across nine of the 11 categories, with only groceries and financial services bucking the trend. During this period, for the first time, Parents Insights also asked new and Below: Only 7% of parents

expressed the maximum level of concern over counterfeit products.

Above: Almost a quarter (23%) of

parents had inadvertently bought items like toys that were not genuine.

expecting parents about counterfeit products. We found that only 50% were confident that they had never bought fake goods for their child and that almost a quarter (23%) had inadvertently bought items that were not genuine, while 27% were unsure. Mums were 38% more likely than dads to be unsure about whether they have purchased fake items. The data also revealed most parents are not seriously concerned about the threat fakes pose. Only 7% expressed the maximum level of concern, while 13% were least concerned and the majority (22%) somewhere in between.

THE CHALLENGE The fact that only half of parents are confident they have never bought fake goods highlights the challenge toy and baby product manufacturers face as they compete in a changing retail landscape while also tackling counterfeit awareness among their target audience. The rise of this new challenge emphasises the need for up-to-date marketing strategies – and a potential need to educate their target audience on the dangers posed by fakes. Awareness of safety symbols is generally strong (above 80%), so a lack of knowledge in this area is not likely to be the reason why parents are – knowingly or not – choosing counterfeit goods. Engaging with an audience that may have been lulled into a false sense of security regarding how easy it can be to inadvertently purchase dangerous fake products is key. HOW WE CAN HELP The need for agile sales and marketing strategies that can respond to the changing behaviours of a target audience is crucial. We survey 200 new and expecting parents across the UK each week to develop an indepth understanding of their attitudes, behaviour and consumption habits. This real-time data can be filtered and analysed to inform all aspects of our client’s strategies, while our campaign testing, measurement and evaluation services help evaluate the effectiveness of any actions. For a sample of our comprehensive data on new and expecting parents, please visit for a complimentary report, or call us on 0330 159 6631. ABOUT KIDS INSIGHTS We specialise in research and insights on kids and their ecosystems. We survey 400 kids, tweens and teens every single week and our real-time portal is continually updated to allow our clients to spot the latest trends before their competitors. Our insight-led reports are produced by some of the top kids’ researchers in the UK and have seen us shortlisted for a number of start-up and innovation awards.


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High quality selection of designs for 6 months to 11 years. No minimums.

Go to Tel: +44 (0) 115 921 5690 Email: 00_PPS_May June 2019.indd 1

02/05/2019 18:25


Dressing up and role-play is one of the most beneficial types of play for very young children, allowing them to let their imaginations run wild. PPS takes a look at what’s in the dressingup box for 2019. Left: The best-selling Natural History Museum dinosaurs from Pretend to Bee are educational, fun and appeal to both boys and girls.

A World of Make-Believe


aby and toddler dress-up is having something of a moment. The developmental benefits are undeniable, but it’s also seeing a boost thanks to the fact that it offers as much fun for parents as it does for children, making it highly giftable and very popular across social media. “All children like to play make-believe and act out roles they see others doing around them,” says Pretend to Bee’s marketing manager Kate Skitt.

“It’s a fundamental part of growing up and dress-up takes this experimentation to another level, allowing children’s imaginations to soar.” Pretend to Bee specialises in

Right: For generic styles Amscan has found that animal themed dress-up is very popular and this super cute Mini Moo jumpsuit is new for 2019.

costumes which help cement these early aspirations and broaden the experience for young minds to explore all the opportunities available to them as they learn through play. “Children of nursery and preschool age are just becoming aware of the world around them and are working out how they fit in,” Kate continued. “Role play and dress-up helps them understand the wider world and the people in it. It helps them make sense of who they are and is a great activity for children who are starting to play with other children as they solidify their first real friendships.” Occupation costumes such as nurse, fireman and F1 driver are very popular for Pretend to Bee, as are its dinosaur and animal costumes. Costume company Fun Shack also specialises in generic role-play ‘real life’ costumes. “A lot of role play includes mimicking adult’s behaviour, 


“Costumes make a wonderful gift for preschoolers whether it’s for a birthday, seasonal event or just as a treat. Parents love to see their little ones dressed up and costumes provide perfect photo opportunities that can be shared with friends and family. Both fantasy and role-play are

important to preschoolers and dressing-up helps children use their imagination and creativity by helping them look like their favourite character. Licensed dress-up is key to this audience and we have invested much of our time expanding our portfolio for 2019 and beyond. World Book Day is also a key

selling season, and we’re delighted to have Peppa Pig, Paddington and Moon & Me join our other favourite preschool brands (The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Dr Seuss, Elmer and Disney Baby) for World Book Day 2020.” Charlotte Terry, marketing executive, Amscan


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DRESS-UP AND ROLEPLAY 29 Left: Bristol Novelty’s stand out costumes include the recently upgraded animal kingdom range, which offer unisex options for wider appeal and diversity.

Above: Both Smiffys’ Bing and Postman Pat costume are available from age one upwards and are guaranteed to enhance playtime. Right : Stand-out lines for Fun Shack include animal costumes such as this Bumble Bee, as the cute factor is a key selling point for toddler costumes.

increasing the demand

for career-based costumes,” said marketing manager Alice Knight. “Due to this demand, we have created a toddler range, expanding our existing children’s costume offering with a line which includes everything from careers to princesses to dinosaurs as well as key seasonal lines.” Fun Shack has also seen an increase in Book Week costumes for younger children, with increasing numbers of nurserys and preschools getting involved with the event. “Classic nursery rhyme, animal costumes and fairy tale costumes are also popular in our preschool sizes,” continued Alice, “while children’s fancy dress parties also remain as popular as ever with themes such as ‘Princess and Pirates’ on the rise.” Fran Hales, marketing manager at costume and accessory company Bristol Novelty, agrees that dressing-up and playing makebelieve is fundamental to a child’s development. “As soon as a child puts on a costume they are starting to develop key stimulus, while of course having a great deal of fun!” He continued: “Children nowadays have more variety

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and choice with the volume of costumes available in the market. This also means they have become more particular about what they wear and as an industry it is key that we respect and encourage gender equality at a young age so that children have the freedom to express themselves as they wish and be self-confident in whatever costume they may choose.” Bristol Novelty will soon be launching a fantastic range of new preschool costumes into the market to complement its existing great range, while as part of its new Get The Look campaign, it will be actively encouraging consumers to get creative and customise their look through accessories and costumes. As well as wanting to be just like their favourite grown-ups, younger children also look up to their favourite book and film characters and so licenses remain key for this sector. A wide and varied range of generic and licensed costumes form Right: Rubie’s Disney Princess collection offers a style and personality for everyone

Smiffys’ preschool offering, which includes everything from full costumes to instant accessory kits making it quick and easy for young children to quickly become one of their favourite characters. “Our range of toddler costumes aim to bring characters to life,” says trade marketing manager Sharon Poulter. “It’s important because dress-up not only encourages imaginative play but also helps with social interaction and – thanks to World Book Day initiatives – plays an important role in making reading fun for preschoolers and school age kids alike.” Smiffys new preschool and baby range all feature an easyfastening design and includes generic lines such as dentist, fire fighter or spaceman, as well as officially licensed dressup characters from popular children’s books and television programs include Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit, Roald Dahl, Where’s Wally and Miffy.

AN EXTRA LAYER OF MAGIC “Role play is a natural part of learning and development; it helps children develop important social skills among their peer group. Dress-up adds that extra layer of magic, where children can practice the behaviours that they’ve observed in those characters. Some of the first characters that toddlers and preschoolers recognise and identify with are those that they’ve seen on the television, and so licenced characters allow them to play with some rules – they know how this character should behave and speak – and that gives them confidence in the way they play. Disney Princess holds an enduring appeal for girls in this age group, with a dress, a style and a personality to suit everyone. And boys continue to love classic comic book heroes like Spiderman and Hulk.” Vicki Hamilton, marketing manager, Rubie’s


19/07/2019 11:40

NEW Licensed Costumes!

TM & © 2019 TTL & MMPL

© ABD Ltd/Ent. One UK Ltd 2003

See Our Full Dress Up Collection at

Amscan International Ltd. Brudenell Drive, Brinklow Milton Keynes, MK10 0DA +44 (0)1908 288 500

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WHAT’S NEW DRESS UP BRISTOL NOVELTY Bristol Novelty has been listening to its customers and is revamping its popular lines with multiple sizes and more unisex costumes. It wants its products to be enjoyed by all age ranges, but it has been focused on its children’s range with improved generic costumes, including the astronaut. It has also been working on making its Halloween range creepier than ever for youngsters! Tel: 0117 9724012

PRETEND TO BEE Pretend to Bee has an unrivalled collection of themed costumes aimed at expanding a child’s imagination, encouraging them to interact with others and learn through play. In addition to its generic costumes it recently launched collections of headband and tail sets to dress up any costume or simply to wear alone. The range features a Woodland collection of fox, squirrel, badger and frog and the Under the Sea collection has an octopus, crab, tropical fish and mermaid tail. Tel: 0115 921 5690


AMSCAN INTERNATIONAL Party, balloons and dress up manufacturer Amscan International has recently added a variety of new preschool licensed costumes to its offering, including three Top Wing styles; Swift, Penny and Rod. Each of the costumes is available in ages 3-4 years and 4-6 years and includes a jumpsuit and mask. Tel: 01908 288500

Smiffys latest offering in the way of dress-up, is the licensed Top Gun toddler collection. The collection features additional categories as an extension of the best-selling licensed range. Top-Gun is favoured by young and old, with its timeless appeal, with designs available to suit everyone. These new, adorable all-inones mean the whole family can be transformed into official fighter pilots. Tel: 01427 616831


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Best in Class for life’s little adventures

The Award-Winning Ranger S2 Carrier The perfect get up and go carrier, the Ranger S2 is the lightest British Standard tested back carrier available, weighing just 1.7kg with LittleLife levels of quality and comfort. Contact us for more information or visit our website to view our full range.


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FOCUS ON: LIFESTYLE ACCESSORIES 33 Inset: Lifemarque has seen strong success for its Winnie the Pooh LittleLife backpack.


Retailers looking for a category to complement their existing core offer – whether that is toys, nursery lines or apparel – won’t go far wrong in considering the bumper collections of lifestyle accessories which are currently available for preschoolers. From backpacks and lunchbags through to water bottles and umbrellas, there’s something for everyone, as PPS discovers.


hen it comes to incremental business for retailers within the preschool space, lifestyle accessories such as backpacks, lunch bags, water bottles and pencil cases have come into their own over recent years. Lifemarque has been one of the companies enjoying significant success, with its LittleLife backpacks performing strongly, as marketing manager Nina Cochran explains to PPS. “Backpacks with a parent rein are


Pink Lining Child has a number of items ready for children who will be starting nursery and preschool this September. Little pirates will be able to keep their treasure close to their chest with a new mini rucksack, which has plenty of space for essentials and has a brightly coloured hot air balloon pirate ship print on a cream background. There is also a matching

as popular as ever,” she says, “with as many as one in three toddlers using either a harness or toddler backpack and a good proportion of them a LittleLife one, thankfully!” The company has seen healthy sales for its Winnie the Pooh range, while the Unicorn toddler backpack has received a ‘great response’, joining the Dinosaur and Butterfly as a top seller. Speaking about new launches, Nina comments: “This year we launched the Elmer backpack which has received lots of press, especially

pirate lunchbox. As well as pirates, there is also a new unicorn print (with a pink and turquoise colour palette), joining the successful puffin and lollipop prints already in the collection. The rucksacks come with safety reins, while the packed lunch boxes have an elasticated bottle band, a mesh section plus a shoulder strap.

as it is 30 years this year since Elmer was born. We’ve updated the Dinosaur, Turtle, Crocodile and Ladybird backpacks for 2020 to give them a fresh new look and they are even more characterful now.” Nina says that backpacks are a popular choice as gift items and the company has found a high percentage of its sales are for first birthday presents. “They’re also a product that offer practicality and safety for parents and carers, but also the characterful nature of them make them a popular emotional choice with little ones,” she says. Best known for its preschool clothing, Frugi has now launched a new lifestyle accessories collection including rucksacks, water bottles, pencil cases and lunch bags with a reflective lining, as well as children’s bamboo dining sets. The company has seen a consistent increase in business of approximately 25% yearon-year and is confident that the new launches will complement its existing offer. “We felt that moving into accessories was a natural development for us,” says Amanda Allen, PR and partnerships manager at Frugi. “We already have a range of outerwear made 

Left: Pink Lining’s new unicorn print adorns rucksacks and lunch bags.


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WHAT’S NEW LIFESTYLE ACCESSORIES SAMSONITE To celebrate the release of Toy Story 4 Samsonite has launched a brand-new Toy Story collection. Featuring the main characters including Woody and Buzz Lightyear, the pieces are a vibrant blue colour with fun little cartoon cloud zippers. The three-piece collection contains two sizes of backpacks with 3D Buzz Lightyear wings and a small cabin bag with an easy to wheel pull out handle.

JOMOVAL Available from Jomoval, this Stephen Joseph unicorn lunch box is perfect for any child. Decorated with a magical unicorn and a beautiful castle on dotted purple background. With pretty pink striped edges, this lunch bag features a carry handle, a front pocket, an insulated lining and an internal velcro strap to hold a water bottle. Other items in the unicorn range include a backpack and bottle buddy. Tel: 01420 544055



From under the sea and high in the sky, Skip Hop welcomes Nova Narwhal and Dillion Dragon to its toddler essentials ZOO Collection. Kid-friendly characters that put the fun in functional. These new characters are available in its kids’ backpacks, lunchies, melamine plate and bowl set, utensils, straw bottles and snack cups. Tel: 01582 434250

With its unusual patchwork and cheery mood Elmer the Elephant is a lovely character to be around. Toddlers can become Elmer with this clever backpack with parents’ safety rein which helps to nurture independence by allowing them to walk and wander whilst also helping with balance and confidence. By using the safety rein, parents can rest assured that their little ones are never far away. Tel: 0118 9811433

FRUGI The Brave and The Brilliant autumn/winter 2019 collection from Frugi, sees the brand enter the back to school category with a range of lifestyle products. The range includes inspired prints on the Pack-a-Snack lunch bag and adventurers backpack made from plastic recycled bottles. The accompanying Splish Splash steel bottle with its practical sports cap fits perfectly inside the lunch bag, or side pocket of the backpack. These additions to the AW19 range are available in three memorable Frugi designs: Polar Play, Rainbow Roads and Rhino Ramble. Tel: 01326 572828 PROGRES SIV E P R E S C H O O L

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FOCUS ON: LIFESTYLE ACCESSORIES 35 THE RISE OF REUSABLE When it comes to trends within the sector, eco-friendly, recycling and sustainable products are leading the way. “Sustainability has to be at the heart of innovation,” states Frugi’s Amanda Allen. “How will new products benefit the planet? Brands need to ask themselves if they are innovating with a conscious, are they ensuring they are reducing waste? Are they upcycling or using recycled plastic bottles, like us? Of course, there is also a need to create practical but eye-catching products.”

Skip Hop has also seen a rise in demand for ecofriendly and reusable products, especially for on-the-go. “As a brand, we feel that it’s really important to consider our audience’s values and reusable products are a hot topic right now,” says the company’s Faye Anderson. “Our products that complement this trend include our Zoo Collection straw bottles, food jars and snack cups, so parents can take food from home out and about, rather than purchasing single use pouches or jars.”

Right: Skip Hop UK has extended its Zoo Collection to include eightinch plush toys of the six signature characters featured on the backpacks.

from recycled bottles and this

is a great extension for us to offer our customers, as well as growth into the accessories and preschool market.” She continues: “Accessories are an ideal solution for parents but also gift givers whether that is grandparents, aunts and uncles or birthday gifts at various accessible price points.” As part of its aim to ‘be the brand that our customers want us to be’, Frugi regularly connects with its audience and asks them what they think, what they need and what they find useful. The company does this through design feedback events and through its ‘Frugi Family’, a fantastic group of passionate Frugi fans. “As we have just launched our accessories and back to school range, we’ll be spending the next few months listening to our customer’s conversations and feedback to potentially amend our designs or introduce more newness into the next range,” says Amanda. As with most categories for preschoolers, licensing can also be key in the lifestyle accessories space. For example, Sambro has a successful range of products, including backpacks Right: DNC is channelling its inner superhero with SpiderMan lunch bags and bottles.

and umbrellas, for a raft of brands including Miffy, PAW Patrol, Shimmer & Shine and Blaze and the Monster Machines. The Tractor Ted brand also has a strong collection of what it describes as ‘holiday essentials’ including backpacks, lunchbags, snack pots, umbrellas and water bottles in a number of designs. Meanwhile, for Skip Hop UK, its wide accessories range fits in with its philosophy that products should simplify life while enabling child development, driving independence and fostering imagination. Faye Anderson, marketing associate, says


Above: Water bottles and backpacks from Frugi’s new autumn/winter 2019 collection are proving to be popular.

that Skip Hop’s Zoo Collection is going from strength-tostrength, with this year seeing the introduction of Nova Narwhal and Dillon Dragon. “Top sellers in the range include the backpacks, Lunchie and Straw Bottle and our awardwinning Smart Serve plate and bowl, which is an all-in-one solution to help transition toddlers from being fed to feeding independently in one clever little product,” Faye tells PPS. The company has also expanded its Zoo Collection into plush toys – including Dog, Butterfly, Dino, Fox, Monkey and Unicorn – tapping into the current collectables trend. “At Skip Hop, our core philosophy begins and ends with ‘MustHaves Made Better’,” adds Faye. “Parents are constantly on the look for ultra-helpful and modern products that can be used at every age and stage of early childhood. We believe in products that simplify life while enabling child development, driving independence and fostering imagination.”

Licensee DNC has introduced a number of new lines to coincide with two of the hottest films of the summer. The company’s new Toy Story 4 range includes lunch bags, BPA free water bottles and snack pots among other lines, all featuring Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Forky, Jessie, Bo Peep and friends. Meanwhile, DNC has also launched exclusive Spider-Man lunch bags and bottles to coincide with Spider-Man: Far From Home swinging into cinemas. PROGRES SIVE P R E S C H O O L

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We look forward to our debut show at:

Baby Monitors, Thermometers, Scales, Night Lights and Accessories. All our products have been developed with safety in mind so that parents can trust Topcom and feel secure. We strive to make lives easier by designing useful and clever products which solve problems and make parenting as enjoyable and hassle free as possible.

To find out more email or call us on 01527 557 700

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Recent technological innovations have taken the nursery industry by storm, offering a whole range of new features and options. PPS takes a look at the newest gadgets to be watching us from the nursery shelves.



here are a wide variety of reasons that parents look to technology to help with looking after their young children – nervous or anxious parents might crave that assurance, babies with additional needs might require extra monitoring or it might just be that they love a good gadget. After all, with so many of us counting our steps, monitoring our sleep patterns and tracking our daily water intake, is it really any surprise that the obsession with new technology has extended to baby care as well? As director of Hardenberg which distributes Angelcare products in the UK, Marc Hardenberg believes that technology aimed at parents is becoming increasingly important. “The changing attitude towards new technologies and the access to all kinds of data around their baby and nursery has seen the market grow,” he explains. “New parents are usually a little anxious about taking good care of their newborn and all these new technologies and smart products can offer a helping hand. Most tech products have a relatively short life-cycle so need to offer good value-for-money.” Although Marc believes that nursery tech will continue to become smarter and quicker, he

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Above: The Angelcare AC527 3-in1 SensAsure movement monitor with video offers the ultimate peace of mind to parents.

still believes that a larger part of baby care remains very traditional. “The market is changing rapidly, but we have to be mindful that

Above: The new ewan Deluxe from Sweet Dreamers offers a calming pink glow, cry sensor, new improved pod and a brand-new heartbeat sound combo.

looking after their baby personally is still all that matters.” The Angelcare AC527 Baby Movement Monitor is the only three-in-one baby monitor on the market, offering video, movement and sound in one system. It uses SensAsure technology with a unique wireless movement sensor pad that monitors baby’s tiniest movements, so parents can rest assured knowing they will be alerted if no movement is detected after 20 seconds. Taking the time-saving element of tech to the next level is 


“My opinion is that nothing beats a parent’s own intuition, but there’s no doubt that today’s modern parent is becoming increasingly reliant on technology. Whether it be a mobile app, monitors linked to devices, breastpumps that you can use discreetly at work or gadgets that measure oxygen levels; technology is undoubtedly having a big effect on parents purchasing habits. I do think that today’s parents believe these gadgets and devices are indispensable and often feel they need them to take the best care of their baby. We are continually developing our iconic product, ewan the dream sheep to meet those need and to ensure he’s the best he can be and that he remains the UK’s bestselling sleep aid.” Lynda Harding, founder, Sweet Dreamers


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

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

@Prog_Preschool is the new online resource for the preschool product and retail sector. From the publishers of Progressive Preschool Magazine and the organisers of the Progressive Preschool Awards, this new website and e-newsflash portal will provide the very latest news, views, and analysis across the preschool product and retail sector. 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 new website and e-newsflash portal will provide the very latest news, views, and analysis across the preschool product and retail sector.


shush! sound inspired by paediatric research


Launching with an unrivalled email subscriber base of 12,087 readers, a twice weekly newsflash will land directly in the inboxes of everyone in this fast-paced industry. A modern, easy to navigate website will provide a central resource for the trade too, offering news, in-depth articles, an industry jobs board, retail analysis, digital issues of Progressive Preschool, and much much more. 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.


Launching with an unrivalled email subscriber base of 12,087 readers, a twice weekly newsflash will land directly in the inboxes of everyone in this fast-paced industry. A modern, easy to navigate website will provide a central resource for the trade too, offering news, in-depth articles, an industry jobs board, retail analysis, digital issues of Progressive Preschool, and much much more. 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.

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



Jo Pilcher

Jacqui Parr

All advertising on the website is Sam Loveday duplicated to each and every is published by preschool sector experts‌ newsflash, giving advertisers BE SURE TO BE PART OF OUR BUMPER huge visibility and direct impact SEPTEMBER ISSUE WHICH WILL BE to retail buyers. Rob Willis

PREVIEWING THE K&J SHOW. is published CONTACT JO PILCHER by preschool sector experts, for preschool trade experts. JOP@MAX-PUBLISHING.CO.UK




Jo Pilcher

Jacqui Parr

Rob Willis

Sam Loveday is published by preschool sector experts‌

The Toys Are Back In Town... Discover the full range of soothing & calming, sound & light products from Cloud b and become a stockist. For further details please visit or call us on 01422 383555 or email

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Above: The Bluebell Smart Monitoring system is a revolutionary new monitor which gives parents real-time alerts on baby’s breathing, temperature, position and crying. Above: The Bluebell Smart Monitoring system is a revolutionary new monitor which gives parents real-time alerts on baby’s breathing, temperature, position and crying.

Babymoov, which offers a number

of multi-use products, making them both highly convenient and cost-effective for parents. “To a proportion of parents, especially the younger generation, technology provides greater efficiency, the ability to do more than one thing at once and saves precious time,” outlines marketing manager Annabelle Cording. “For example, up to four additional cameras can be used with our video baby monitors for families with multiple children.” Within the monitor market there is a divide between the parents looking for cost-effective, simple functionality and reliability without any extras and those that want the most advanced monitors available. “Having the peace of mind to leave baby alone is essential to the safety of their child in the eyes of many parents, says Annabelle, “but they also want to know everything that is happening in the baby’s room without disturbing their sleep.” Luckily, technological capabilities are becoming more sophisticated all the time, with products such as Babymoov’s award-winning premium video monitor range, the YOO Moov entering the market. A silent 360 degree motorised camera video monitor with VOX function, it ensures that parents are alerted immediately to baby’s voice and offers limitless camera tech, excellent picture quality and a smooth wireless parent unit with 11cm screen, offering complete peace of mind. Taking nursery innovation a step or two further than even these high-

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tech, multifunctional sleep monitors is Bluebell, which offers a smart monitoring system which has been designed by doctors and gives parents real-time alerts on baby’s breathing, temperature, position and crying. It also tracks sleep and activity via a lightweight wearable clip which send alerts to the parent wristband when needed. As marketing manager for the company, Gemma Stokes points out that technology is particularly important for the millennial generation which is currently having babies. “These parents have grown up with technology, where having the latest gadget and most advanced product is essential,” she says. “These parents are more reliant on technology to help them feel connected to baby at all times as well as access accurate and informative data which can help with a variety of things such as monitoring sleep, checking for illnesses or helping to develop a routine.” Gemma believes that as a brand specialising in nursery tech, it’s very important for Bluebell to keep up with all developments in the

Above: The Owlet Smart Sock sends information straight to a phone via a base station, which glows green to let parents know everything is okay.

industry so we remain relevant and fresh. “Tech is changing by the day and the development we will see in just five years will be phenomenal,” she says. “Parents will expect routine trackers and connectivity to their mobile devices as standard. As time goes by, we will become more reliant on technology to keep us connected to our babies at all times and to alert us if our baby needs attention.” While it remains true that there’s no substitute for a parent’s instinct or common sense, new technology is able to supplement this, giving additional information or reassurance where needed and allowing parents to get on with the real handson business of parenting.


“The future of baby care is already here. Technology is increasingly important for parents so they can make informed parenting decisions and modern parents expect their technology to give them the right information at the right time. With parents busier than ever, they need technology that works seamlessly with their everyday lives. That is why we created the Owlet Smart Sock, to give parents the tools they need to know their baby is ok. As the world’s first smart sock baby monitor, which tracks a baby’s heart rate and oxygen levels, it’s quickly becoming the must-have product for new parents in the UK. As an industry, baby technology companies continue to focus on producing innovative products that not only positively impact the lives of children, but also their carers – hopefully helping them to sleep sounder at night as well.” Jake Colvin, co-founder, Owlet Babycare


19/07/2019 11:46

The Winnie the Pooh Dreams and Wishes nursery furniture set is perfect for families with Winnie the Pooh in mind, and features adorable illustrations of Winnie and friends, co-ordinated delightfully throughout all items in the set.

Beautifully designed and built to last, the furniture set includes a cot bed, under drawer, closed changing unit and spacious double wardrobe, all packed full of convenient storage solutions to give parents a much needed helping hand in organising baby’s room.

nspirational thinking

The Disney Inspire cot bed & mini cot bed thoughtfully combines clean and contemporary design with the delightful addition of Winnie the Pooh, Minnie Mouse, Dalmations or Dumbo illustrations.

Dumbo Don’t Just Fly Soar

101 Dalmatians Little Dreamer

Minnie Mouse Hearts

Winnie The Pooh Looking Out At Night

Winnie The Pooh Hug Me

Winnie The Pooh & Friends

Choose from our standard 140 x 70cm cot bed or the mini 120 x 60cm cot bed. As your child grows the mattress base can be lowered with three base heights available, providing extra security and reassurance. They effortlessly convert from a cot into a cosy and stylish junior bed.

Disney Inspire Mini Cot Bed Winnie The Pooh - My Job Is Sleeping

® 01652 641491

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WHAT’S NEW NURSERY TECHNOLOGY HIPPYCHICK Myhummy’s range of Humming Bears are the irreplaceable helpers for parents across the globe. These unique toys emit five different types of sound, including white noise, which newborn babies associate with the comfort and security of being in the womb. In the case of newborns, the likelihood of a baby falling asleep is increased threefold in response to white noise. Suitable from birth, these cuddlies come with a removable sound heart that can play the soothing sounds for up to 12 hours. Available from Hippychick. Tel: 01278 434440


MEEMOOBABY This truly innovative night light is dimmable, wearable and with a low golden light, the clever product has revolutionised night-time feeding. Minimising stimulating blue light, the innovative Meemoobaby nightlight helps the baby or child to fall back to sleep faster. Multipurpose too, the night light can be used by little ones to add a warm glow to any nursery. Available from Cheeky Rascals. Tel: 01730 895761

Babies and toddlers are sure to go gaga for the Fox Musical Soother and Night Light Projector from Infantino. The ingenious night light soothes little ones to sleep by playing relaxing lullaby music and nature sounds for 20 minutes. There are five comforting songs to choose from and three nature sounds. If that wasn’t enough, the fox’s tail gently moves and projects a colourful light display onto baby’s nursery wall, to lull them into a peaceful slumber in no time. And for the best bit – the fox cub can be removed! Especially designed to provide comfort wherever little ones go, the baby fox can be held throughout the night, or be placed in the cot to help little ones fall asleep. Tel: 07921 212072

OWLET The Smart Sock, by Owlet Babycare, is worn comfortably on a baby’s foot while the baby sleeps. The Smart Sock sends notifications via a Bluetooth low energy (BLE) base station to the parents’ smartphone, making it easy to check if their baby is sleeping soundly. If a baby’s heart rate, or oxygen levels deviate outside of pre-set levels, parents are notified by the base station and the Owlet app.  Owlet use proven pulse oximetry technology and makes it appropriate for the home. The Smart Sock is wireless, wearable and comfortable. Tel: 01730 895761

CRANE The Train design recently joined the Crane range of humidifiers. It offers the same incredible benefits that parents have enjoyed with the Elephant and Drop designs. A humidifier provides moisture for nasal congestion, dry cough, sinus irritation, dry skin and allows easier breathing for a good night’s sleep. The Crane filter-free cool mist humidifiers run whisper quiet for up to 24 hours and have an auto ‘off’ function for safety when the tank is empty. The humidifier emits a cool mist into the air and can effectively humidify small and medium rooms up to 500 square feet. Crane USA is distributed in the UK by Nimans Home. Tel: 01937 847766


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T he r i g ht choice for a safer, bet ter ni g ht ’s sleep…

71% of b a b i e s sl e pt for ove r 6 hou ho u r s a t a t im e w h en u s in g a G ro b a g * 86% of pare nts fe e l t ha t Grob a g s a re bet t er q u a lit y t h a n ot h er s im ila r p ro d u c ts * 80% of p a re nts consi d e r Grob a g to be t h e sa fe s t b ra n d o f B a by S leep B a g ** ( a nd t hey ’re r i g h t! ) T he only B a by S l e e p B a g re co m m en d ed by T h e Lu lla by Tr u s t

One Le s s T hing To Wor r y About T h e new Au t um n / Wi nt e r ’ 1 9 co lle c t io n is a va ila b le n ow *320 respondents, Grobag Satisfaction Survey, August 2018 **897 respondents, Baby Sleep Bag Safety Survey, February 2017

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A baby’s fundamental needs are fairly straightforward; they need plenty of sleep and to be fed, cleaned and made comfortable. PPS takes a look at the nursery essentials which help carers meet those core needs. VERY VERSATILE


Necessities E ach family will have its own definition of what constitutes an essential nursery product; the parent of a colicky newborn might rely on a sling they can wear all day long, while another might swear by the latest gadget to ensure a good night’s sleep. While the nature of what is essential can vary between individuals, there are some core babycare products which are used by almost every new parent. These blankets, muslins, nappy bins and changing mats are used over and over again, making all those little jobs a bit easier. “Essentials need to be reliable,” declares Victoria Taylor, brand manager for East Coast Nursery. “Generally these are the products that parents reach for multiple times a day – often while holding the baby in the other hand! – so we need to make sure that we are providing something that will consistently meet their needs.” Function is crucial for these products, partly because they are subject to constant use.

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Above: Red Castle’s Cocoonababy is suitable from newborn to approximately three months and can help avoid common sleep difficulties such as reflux, colic and waking with a start. Below: The Counting Sheep changing mat and liner from East Coast Nursery has a detachable cotton liner for extra softness and warmth during nappy changes. Below right: Chicco’s Baby Hug 4-in-1 can be adapted to provide either a crib, recliner seat, first chair or highchair for from birth until three years.

Victoria believes that price is a key factor as well, particularly because these tend to be necessary rather than ‘treat’ purchases. “That said,” she adds, “almost every purchase for a baby is an emotive one, so there’s still space for us to create appealing products,

“For large items such as cribs and daytime sleeping solutions, parents are looking for products that are both practical and easy to operate. Longevity has also become a priority as parents look for items that will stand the test of time and grow with their baby. Products that are versatile and have several functions save on space and cost but are also incredibly practical, such as our Baby Hug 4-in-1 which also provides cost-saving benefits as little one grows. While essential products such as cribs will always be vital, we expect to see more demand for multi-functional items that can be used in other areas of the house.” Holly John, UK and Ireland head of marketing, Chicco as long as they are functional.” Natalie Jackson is vp of sales and marketing for Red Castle and she agrees that it’s important for these essential products to still be desirable. “Ultimately retailers and consumers are looking for product which has all the essential touch points. It needs to be safe, practical and easy to use. Longevity of use is also a massive bonus and they 


19/07/2019 11:47

NEW for summer 2019 Woodland and Sealife designs. Available in both muslin squares and the all NEW hooded bathrobe. Made from 100% cotton Muslin fabric.

For general enquiries: For ordering and sales: Tel: 01295 810008


International Business Media Services Ltd. 42 Christchurch Road, Ringwood BH24 1DN, Tel. +44 1425 48 68 30

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NURSERY ESSENTIALS 45 need to be complementary and

stylish too – all while offering value for money. No pressure!” Red Castle prides itself on making quality products that go above and beyond in terms of functionality and safety and has found that any nursery ‘must-have’ needs to be easy to use, multi-functional if possible and be safe and comforting for the baby. “We believe that these values will remain at the core for future essential products and as a supplier, we need to continue to make things as easy and convenient as possible,” Natalie explains. “These elements are a parent’s number one priority. We have found that if a product ticks all these boxes, they are willing to pay a little bit more for added peace of mind.” By their very nature, essential products includes most things which make life as a parent easier and more convenient. “Popular essentials offer longevity and durability,” adds Dean Tollman, director at Vital Baby. “We are seeing multipurpose and combination products with more than one function or feature becoming increasingly desirable. Usability and function are key to this sector.” Dean also highlights that modern life means that parents are busy and have less time, so want products that are easy and quick to use. “Anything that will give them a little bit of extra time with baby is important to them,” he states. “And of course price is a factor too, although value for money is probably even more of a consideration. So products that offer longevity, great quality and that can be used beyond baby or for other things are key.” A parent himself, Dean has also identified the growing trend of parents becoming more environmentally aware, with parents looking for ecofriendly products to use in the home. “They are looking to do their bit where they can, buying products with reduced plastic and recyclable

Above: Ziggle uses natural fabrics such as cotton or bamboo in a wide variety of looks and colours ranging from pretty pastels to vibrant brights.

Above: The Vital Baby HYGIENE odour-trap nappy disposal system features a patented odour-trap seal and is fully compatible with both reusable and disposable nappies. Right: On-trend colours and stylish prints are featured across MuslinZ collections, with exclusive ranges offered as a key nursery essential for retailers.

packaging,” he adds. “I also think multipurpose products offering longterm value will be key as they also help the environment and are far more cost-effective.” Also focusing on the environmental aspect is Caroline Taylor, ceo of MerryGoRound, the company behind MuslinZ. “While parents naturally need the product to deliver on its promises, its environmental credentials are also becoming increasingly important, with both parents and retailers demanding more ethically sourced, green and vegan products. A muslin must be soft and absorbent, but after


the functionality has ticked the boxes and quality is assured, there are definately other considerations too.” Looking to the future, Caroline has the final word, pointing out that while it can be difficult to predict what parents will be looking for in the future, a baby’s core essential needs will always remain the same. “With this in mind, the biggest change ahead is the impact that the growing awareness of single-use plastic will have on the industry, which will effect everything from nappies to food packaging. We have already seen the impact of this with the sales of our reusable washable wipes, which are not just being used for babies bottoms but for beauty purposes, for general hygiene and around the home! It’s great for us, for consumers and most importantly of course, the planet and its future.”

“The very fact that these items are deemed essential is an indication of their need to be functional. The need for an easy way to dress a wriggly baby led to our zip-through baby-gro, while the matching bib followed to keep baby dry and to avoid chafing. In this sector, it is not enough to have the style without the substance – usability and function are key. It is unlikely that the nature of essentials will change significantly in the future but sustainability is a new factor coming into play. We use bamboo for our muslins and all our cotton fabrics are also certified by Oeko-Tex so they are safe and free from any hazardous dyes. For new millennial parents, sustainability is now an essential criteria and this is likely to grow in the future.” Sharon Beardsworth, sales and marketing director, Ziggle PROGRES SIVE P R E S C H O O L

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WHAT’S NEW NURSERY ESSENTIALS LOVE TO DREAM Swaddle UP, the innovative sleep solution from Love To Dream is now available in a gender-neutral crown print, fit for any little prince or princess. With the super soft fabric creating the cosiest environment, little ones can now drift off peacefully. The unique swaddle system provides the ultimate comfort and security to settle little dreamers. The breathable natural cotton aids temperature regulation, whilst the gorgeous new print design keeps little ones looking just as cool! With grey crowns repeated across the crisp white fabric, this unisex design is perfect for any budding royal enthusiasts. Tel: 01730 895761

SOPHIE LA GIRAFE Sophie la girafe remains the world’s bestselling teething toy, having sold over 50 million products since its launch. The Sophie la girafe Medecin Sans Frontieres award pack is not only a great value set containing an original Sophie la girafe, and a Sophie la girafe vanilla teether, more importantly every set purchased funds three measles vaccinations for children through MSF. This brilliant initiative has donated over 200,000 vaccinations so far. Tel: 01383 735134


MUSLINZ Baby accessories specialist MuslinZ has launched two brand new prints as part of its summer 2019 collection: a woodland design and a sealife design. The woodland range is pure white with subtle, grey woodland themed motifs featuring an acorn, a rabbit and a hedgehog. The sealife design has a beachy inspired print that features a blue whale, a pink octopus and a yellow shell. Both designs are available in the super-soft, 100% cotton, 70cm x 70cm muslin squares. The new ranges will also be available in the 100% cotton bandana style dribble bibs, hooded towels, washable nappy wraps, as well as the brandnew muslin bathrobes. Tel: 01295 810008

To help make change time as stress-free as possible, the vital baby Hygiene odourtrap nappy disposal system has been carefully developed to lock in those powerful and unpleasant aromas associated with dirty nappies, ensuring baby’s nursery is kept smelling clean and fresh. Featuring a patented odour-trap seal it locks in all nasty odours and is fully compatible with both reusable and disposable nappies, helping families to do their bit to look after the planet. Unlike other nappy disposal systems, there is no need for any refills or cassettes, as any plastic bag can be used, no matter what size or thickness. Tel: 07004 222437

ZIGGLE Ziggle leads the way with baby essentials with its coordinated ranges of bibs, muslins, blankets and baby grows. The Ziggle characters are many and varied including funky dinosaurs and pretty unicorns to playful monkeys and whimsical clouds, but practicality is still at the heart of all Ziggle products. The bibs are lined with fleece making them the most absorbent on the market, muslins are both soft and strong, blankets come in many fabrics to suit the English climate - cool cotton for summer and warm sherpa fleece for winter. Tel: 01625 569530


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The Right Toy at the Right Time


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Inset: East Coast Nursery’s ‘Say Hello’ Tummy Time Discovery Toy is an awardwinning, bestselling product which encourages babies to play on their front.



ne of the most astonishing things about newborn babies is the rate at which they grow and develop. From the moment they are born, babies are instantly observing, absorbing and preparing to take on the world, so it’s only natural that the first 12 months of a baby’s life are full of developmental milestones, from first smiles all the way through to first steps. Infant toys (which we’re loosely defining as being aimed at children aged from 0 - 12 months) are essential for encouraging healthy brain development, as it is through play that babies learn to engage and


“We believe parents are looking for great designs, but are also very conscious of safety and functionality. Cute faces, colours and sounds and textures that will be captivating for the baby are key. Brand names are important too, especially if they have had positive or negative experiences in the past. I don’t believe that there is a distinction between development

Young babies are veritable sponges, soaking up everything around them, so it’s important that they are surrounded by toys and play products which can help them grow and develop. PPS takes a look at what’s available for the youngest members of the family.

interact with the world around them. As brand manager for East Coast Nursery, Victoria Taylor explains that perceived play value is really important when parents are making their choices. “They want to know that their baby will enjoy the toy for months to come, so they’re looking for something really engaging, or a toy that has several functions to hold their little one’s interest,” she explained. As such, East Coast Nursery’s ‘Say Hello’ toy range was developed in partnership with baby development classes Baby Sensory. With more than 30 years of research into baby and toddler development under her

and play – pretty much everything a baby does is development. Us grown ups see ‘play’ but for the baby, it is all learning and development as they are starting to understand the world and their brain is making lots of new connections.” Rob Trup, marketing manager, Fiesta Crafts

belt, founder Dr Lin Day was able to give the product development team a huge amount of information about the colours, textures and shapes that are most appealing to babies. “Dr Lin had input throughout the creation of the toys, to ensure we were creating something that would have developmental benefits as well as being appealing and entertaining,” adds Victoria. “The first year is such a critical time for babies’ development and it is vital that our toy development begins with the research into cognitive and physical development, so that we can support this with our products.” According to Halilit’s national account manager Amy Wildman, there are many factors which combine to 

Above: Fiesta Craft’s buggy and cot toys offer a way for adults to also enjoy playing with the baby.


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Play Different….. with Janod

Play Different….. with Janod Play Different….. with Janod 32 High Park Road, Kew Gardens, Richmond TW9 4BH • United Kingdom Tel: +44 (0)20 8878 2133 • • website

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make the ideal infant toy.

“From a parent’s perspective the item must be resilient and safe, ensuring that neither the baby nor the toy is at any risk of damage,” she outlines. “They also expect an infant toy to offer opportunities for learning and development, which at this age is a key contributor to the play value of a product.” The Taf Toys team uses focus groups to ensure that it understands parents’ concerns and that the items it develops are meeting their expectations. It also gets valuable design feedback, as parents are becoming increasingly conscious of how a toy fits in as part of an overall ‘look’ of a nursery or playroom. “The stages of development for a baby tend to remain the same,” Amy explains, “but as a manufacturer it is important to keep aware of current advice, issues and trends to ensure you’re meeting the current market demand.” Also focusing on the developmental stages is Infantino, as marketing director, Nivi Bhide, explains. “Playtime overlaps with development in a large way and we believe it’s an essential start to the learning stages. We believe parents are looking for fun and colourful toys to stimulate senses, so we are committed to making products that are engaging and interactive to help children’s sensory development from day one.” Infantino is committed to offering parents all the products they need to ensure 24/7 ‘Happy Parenting’ and it all starts with the awardwinning toys, which include features such as flashing lights, punchy rhythms and primary colours. “It is such an important focus for us to ensure all developmental stages from newborns to 36 months are covered,” continued Nivi. “We ensure there is something for everyone,

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Above left: Infantino’s 4-in-1 Grow With me Activity Playland is an action-packed activity centre with six games and options for babies aged 9m+. Left: SmartMax is an award-winning pre-school magnetic construction system and the ‘My First’ Totem set features eight colourful magnetic building blocks, with different sounds, styles and textures. Above right: Halilit’s new Tummy Time Book is part of Taf Toys’ Koala Daydream Collection, featuring monochrome designs on one side and colour on the other.

offering a one-stopshop for good quality products to exercise the muscles and minds of little ones!” The focus on learning through play is also important for Smart Toys and Games, which offers toys featuring a range of engaging and educational mechanics. With a brand ethos which encourages children to ‘learn through play’, every toy is colourful, durable and designed with a unique theme to delight the child. Brand director Karen Clarke points out that with so many different brands and options on the market, shoppers are looking for infant toys that really stand out and withstand the test of time. “Parents are looking for wellmade, durable, cleverly designed toys that are engaging,” she states, “while babies like toys that are colourful and creative. It’s also important that toys help develop key skills, have an educational element, are good value for money and most importantly are safe!” Smart Toys and Games offers

Right: The Janod Cat Multi Activity Walker is brightly coloured, fully interactive and is a winner for those allimportant first steps!

a number of ranges – such as the magnetic SmartMax construction sets – which can support stimulate a number of cognitive skills. “They also help with colour recognition and hand-eye co-ordination – all of these are really important tools for children as they start learning these key skills from a very young age,” Karen continues. “The first year of a baby’s life is a vital stage for learning and development. It’s also a time for interaction and communication as they start to build social and developmental skills.” It’s reassuring for parents to know that there is so much focus on the quality and effectiveness of toys designed for the early days of a child’s life – and that the best ones are interactive, engaging and, most importantly of all, fun!


“Parents are looking for good quality, long lasting toys with an element of education at the forefront. Developing self-confidence through play is so important in the early years. Learning to recognise colours and shapes, number and letters will become natural later in life but in the early stages the focus is on learning through play and interaction. Because every child is different, Janod creates clever toys which help children develop key skills. Of course, products must first meet a market need, but our creative team also ensures it makes any new item on-trend – we develop over 200 new products every year and are proud to be the leaders for wooden toys in France.” Michelle Probert, sales and marketing manager, Juratoys


19/07/2019 11:50

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The Fantastic Firsts three-in-one activity walker from Little Tikes encourages those first steps with light projections on the floor to inspire baby to step forward and find its feet. This multi-functional walker is perfect for keeping even the most curious of infants entertained with activities for standing and walking play. The activity walker is available in pink or orange. Tel: 01908 268480

Tiny Love, the innovative brand that focuses on baby’s development, has introduced its newest collection – Magical Tales. The hero of its newest range, the exclusive black and white Gymini is specially designed to support baby’s development from day one. With contrasting colours and clever features such as musical toys, cute characters and adjustable arches, the Gymini perfectly matches baby’s innate desire to explore. Suitable for newborns to six months plus. Tel: 0208 2360707

SKIP HOP The adorable Explore & More selfie phone lets baby see themselves like never before. The mirrored front surface provides them with the ultimate self-recognition toy, and when buttons are pressed, they will be rewarded with the addition of cute and colourful animated graphic overlays. Baby can activate dog ears, glasses and cat whiskers visuals plus sounds, thus keeping them entertained for hours. Tel: 01582 434250

Toy Van, we believe “ Here at Le wood is good. We use and replant a by-product of the rubber industry, Rubberwood, which we, amongst other woods, recycle into wonderful, eco-friendly, high-quality wooden toys. All of our toys are developed by our in-house creatives with a big helping of French flair provided by the Le Van family, who founded the company in 1995. | | 0208 979 3036 PROGRES SIV E P R E S C H O O L

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It might look all cute and cuddly, but make no mistake, the soft toys category means serious business and is a sure-fire ratings winner for retailers looking for year-round sales. PPS chats to some key suppliers – from classic plush brands through to licensed specialists – to find out more.

Inset: Rainbow Designs is launching a Fun with Spot infant preschool toy range.


A Softer Side

t’s one of the core categories of the toy industry, offers yearround business for retailers and never seems to go out of fashion. Soft toys – whether that be traditional classic plush, licensed feature plush or comforters – are


“Our soft toy business has performed very positively over the last 12 months due to some very strong licences,” confirms Laura Bull, marketing manager at Posh Paws. “For us, licences are the driving force in our business.” The company’s range of plush toys for How To Train Your Dragon has flown off shelves, while Toy Story is leading the way for the Disney properties. New lines coming up include hotly tipped preschool series Pirata & Capitano, Sunny Bunnies, Frozen 2 and Trolls 2. “Retro and heritage trends and brands continue to play a big part in the soft toy category,” Laura continues. “We have found Winnie the Pooh and Dumbo are perennial classic among adults and children alike. With continual innovation in fabrics and designs, there are lots of opportunities for companies to embrace.”

often one of the first gifts a child receives, so it’s no wonder that the sector is booming with companies offering a wide range of products to appeal across the board. The Puppet Company has enjoyed a strong performance from its Wilberry brand over the past 12 months, with 28% growth. The company’s md, Peter Lockey, tells PPS that sell-through has been excellent, with some lines – such as the Feathery Owls – selling out in two weeks. The company introduced nearly 80 new designs at Harrogate’s Home & Gift and

Above: Licences are a driving force for the Posh Paws business. PROGRES SIVE P R E S C H O O L

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Above: The Piu Piu Octopus Toys are extremely popular for Hippychick.

will be showing them again at Autumn Fair (1 – 4 September). “We are particularly pleased with our new large plush pets and dressed animal characters,” says Peter. “We are seeing a trend towards more traditional styles with teddy bears making an appearance again. Also some of our more Scandinavian designs in neutral colours including fairies and ballet dancers have been selling strongly.” The Puppet Company is also lending a hand to retailers with plenty of POS material including stands and baskets to help promote its ranges in-store. “This year we are launching a range of mini suitcases in four sizes that will be perfect ‘homes’ for most of our Wilberry toys and POS material baskets so our range can be easily merchandised,” explains Peter. “The baskets are printed on both sides with the ‘Wilberry’ branding and will be available in three sizes.” Hippychick is another company which has been enjoying success in the plush space. The Nattou range is still its biggest brand and its cuddly and comforter toys are some of its top selling lines. 

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@ThePuppetCompanyLtd @PuppetCompany 19/07/2019 15:38:27 19/07/2019 16:03

FOCUS ON: SOFT TOYS & COMFORTERS 57 CHEEKY SUCCESS Over the past 12 months, Cheeky Chompers has seen sales grow in the US and Taiwan, while also remaining steady in the UK. “Whenever we release new designs, we always have a positive boost in sales,” says marketing manager, Carrie Robertson. “Our Comfortchew – the comforter with teether attached – and our organic muslin Comforter are both good sellers in the gift market.” Carrie says that the company’s monochrome design Panda Pals Comfortchew has been popular worldwide, while its Silver Stars organic muslin comforter is also a strong choice as it is also attachable so doesn’t get lost or dirty. “Monochrome, greys and gender neutral designs are becoming more popular,” Carrie continues. “I’d also suggest to retailers having a gifting area for new babies and baby showers. This would make a good add-on sale for the retailer.” Carrie also hinted at a number of new designs and new products in development, although the company is playing its cards close to its chest for now. Above: The Panda Pals Comfortchew has been popular worldwide for Cheeky Chompers.

“Our Lapidou Rabbits and Comforters and Piu Piu Octopus Toys are extremely popular, as well as our vast Rocker range,” explains Alan Houghton, business development manager. The company will be launching new Nattou collections in 2020, while it has also recently launched myHummy, a super soft sleep aid range which is already gleaning positive feedback. While soft toys may be a traditionally ingrained category for toys, innovation is still key.

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“[Companies should] keep producing toys suitable for a wide range of ages and offering a vast selection of colourways and characters to keep a range fresh and following the animal trends the consumer wants,” says Alan. He also suggests that retailers could offer bundle deals for parents: “We find when doing our retail shows, nine times out of ten, a parent will like to buy the cuddly toy and the comforter to match.” Rainbow Designs enjoyed its best year in 2018 with a portfolio full of classic collections that have stood the test of time such as Peter Rabbit, Paddington, The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Winnie the Pooh. “Soft toys and comforters traditionally become a baby’s first toy, a keepsake they form a strong bond with that ultimately creates sentiment and a long-term relationship with that brand,” explains md Anthony Temple. Upcoming launches for autumn/winter 2019 include the Disney Baby Toy Story line featuring developmental activity toys of the iconic characters; That’s Not My… touchy-feely soft toys and comforters; a Fun with Spot infant preschool toy range; and new plush for Everest, the star of DreamWorks’ Abominable. Anthony continues: “Driven by the millennial parents and their passion for style and interiors, in the nursery lines in particular, we are seeing a love for neutral colourways and this is now being proven at retail. The trend we are seeing in the early preschool years is very much for heritage characters, such as those born from entertainment like Peppa Pig and Disney’s Toy Story, which are endorsed by their millennial parents and gift givers.” Meanwhile, Aurora World believes that it is unique in the plush toy channel. “We are

Right: The Puppet Company’s Feathery Owls were a sell out success.

continually developing new products and concepts,” says sales director Martin Ringer. “Product development is undertaken by our European, US and Hong Kong teams and our head office product development team based in Seoul. We also own our own factories in China and Indonesia.” He continues: “This structure enables us to be a one-stop shop for plush – both plush based on our own IP, such as YooHoo, as well as licensed brands and bespoke retailer projects. This start-tofinish management continues to deliver growth for the company.” Among the new launches coming up for the remainder of the year will be four items for The World of Dinosaur Roar, with Martin saying that the company has long wanted to bring the stars of the books to life. Aurora World will also continue to add line extension to YooHoo and Sparkle Tales (which encapsulates all things fantasy), as well as launching a new baby character called Elly Elephant. And, finally, Martin has this advice for retailers to further engage parents in-store: “Reinforce the quality and safety standard of products and appreciate the benefits of not always trading on price. Knowledgeable sales people, good retail displays and cross-category areas, selling books, plush, nightwear, etc would be a good place to start.” Left: The Sparkle Tales fantasy range is big business for Aurora World.


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WHAT’S NEW SOFT TOYS AND COMFORTERS RAINBOW DESIGNS The Home of Classic Characters is welcoming a much-loved character back to the Rainbow family this autumn - Spot! 2020 will be the 40th anniversary of this adventurous little dog and to celebrate we are launching a Fun with Spot infant preschool toy range that includes attachable and developmental activity toys as well as super soft Spot plush. Tel: 01329 227300


MERRYGOROUND MerryGoRound UK has launched the Wooly Organic Backyard Family range of soft toys. The new products include the comforter series, which each feature a different animal; either a bunny, a cat, a mouse, or a sheep. The comforter measures 25cm x 30cm and includes a cuddly, fluffy, velour belly. The creature can even hold a baby’s dummy in its tail turning it into a comforter and dummy holder all in one. Wooly Organic’s modern and minimalistic toys are 100% GOTS certified organic fabrics and plush with a biodegradable corn fibre fill. Tel: 01295 810008

Posh Paws’ beautiful collection of Blue Planet II and Planet Earth soft toys has been carefully handcrafted to bring preschoolers a premium soft toy range befitting of its real-life counterpart. This range of high quality, super soft animals is available in both small and medium sizes. From elephants to sea turtles and from sharks to tigers, there’s an animal for everyone to collect. Each toy is adorned with the BBC Earth emblem and features a hang tag with an information profile so children can learn more about the animal. Tel: 01268 567317

GUND For 2019, GUND is proud to present Flappy the Elephant - an adorable singing animated plush with two different play modes. Press the left foot to play an interactive game of peek-a-boo, and the right to hear the song Do Your Ears Hang Low in a cute child’s voice. Its ears move and flap during play, it is surfacewashable for easy cleaning and is appropriate for all ages. Tel: 01228 404022

CHARACTER From the ever popular Peppa Pig plush toys range, the new Sleepover Peppa from Character is the essential take along toy for a night with the grandparents, or the perfect night-time friend for home. Whatever the occasion it is bound to become an ever-present part of the bedtime routine. Watch as Peppa gently glows as a night light when its tummy is pressed and it also plays a soft lullaby. Sleepover Peppa comes with its very own sleeping bag carry case, making sure it is also tucked up when it’s time for sleep. Tel: 0161 633 9800


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Over 300 Soft Toys

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WHAT’S NEW BABY KINGDOM Premium British baby toiletries brand Baby Kingdom Collection has launched a new luxury gift set in response to demands from its stockists. The lavish range, which includes a baby shampoo, 2-1 hair and body wash, a body cream, nappy cream and talc free baby powder, has been eagerly adopted by the baby brand’s international partners. The set features all five of the company’s products and is designed to be the perfect present for a baby shower, giving new parents a total solution for their baby’s toiletry needs. Tel: 01489 781979



New from Bebecar is its new range of doll’s prams which are available to order now, with stock due in time for Christmas. The collection comprises six colours in leatherette and Prive fabrics. The chassis is modelled on the Bebecar Stylo Class pram, with realistic feel and function. Each one includes a matching bag, with raincovers available as well. Tel: 01692 408801

Available from LittleConcepts, this stationary range from Makii consists of giant colouring posters, giant stickering posters and whopping wide colouring pictures. As the stickering trend continues to grow in scale, Makii has also released a range of products aimed at the travel and pocket-money categories, including the super stickering sets, temporary tattoos and whimsical window clings. The beautifully designed themes cross over the entire range, featuring cityscapes, under water adventures and jungles scenes. Tel: 0117 2302112

HAPE Hape take the domino phenomenon that one step further with the thrilling Domino Robot Factory and Mighty Hammer Domino sets, suitable for four years plus. Jam packed with a series of additional fun and interactive elements including a tipper car, crazy ball track, tipper arm and ramps which help form an exciting robot themed production line to add drama and spectacle. Hape is proud to use only water based paints, tested rigorously to ensure that customers get the best value for money and quality in its toys. Tel: 0845 6000286

GB Gb has released the Everna-Fix car seat, its first group 1/2/3 car seat that intelligently adapts to little ones as they grow. Fusing design with functionality, the Everna-Fix delivers ongoing safety and support through children’s younger years. Combined with an ISOFIX System, the EvernaFix is equipped with a top tether which prevents dangerous seat rotation in case of an accident. Both features have a visual warning, with the top tether having an additional audible warning when not installed, or inappropriately installed, thus supporting the correct use of the seat. The Everna-Fix is available in six colour ways including Night Blue, Velvet Black, London Grey, Sweet Pink, Rose Red and Laguna Blue.


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IN NUMBERS Above: The dedicated baby and toddler room is well stocked.


• Moon Balls • Pokémon Cards • G alt Toys Pop Up Toy • O rchard Toys Shopping List • Kittens in Baskets by Ashwood Toys

Giddy Goat Toys is a traditional independent children’s toy shop located in the suburb of Didsbury in south Manchester. A previous Progressive Preschool Award nominee, the store’s owner, Amanda Alexander, opened its doors in September 2012 and describes it as “a treasure trove of wonderful toys, books, puzzles and games for children of all ages”. PPS finds out the figures behind the store’s success.


“One box came in our latest delivery - it was a top-up order from Manhattan Toys as we had a customer who was desperately trying to get hold of a Binky Bunny which has been discontinued. However, Manhattan Toys had some left in stock and kindly sent them out so our customer doesn’t have to worry about her daughter losing her favourite toy bunny.”


“Norbert’s Fidget Putty was our hero item for 2018. And as for 2019, the jury is still out… ask me in December!” Above: Galt’s Pop Up Toy is among Giddy Goat Toys’ top sellers this year.


“Our longest supplier is probably Djeco – six years in this shop and two years in the last shop I co-owned. Character Options is a new supplier for us for 2019 – the Little Live Pets Butterflies are popular, but I am appalled that Hayden (the sales rep) hasn’t seen the Marvel Avengers films!” Below: Djeco is the retailer’s longest standing supplier.

Above: Giddy Goat Toys specialises in wooden toys and is described as a treasure trove of toys, games, books and puzzles.


The Giddy Goat Toys team is headed up by Amanda Alexander. She is supported by four team members who do regular part time hours and two ex members of staff who come back and do occasional shifts if they are ever short staffed. Amanda’s eldest child also does the occasional shift to supplement his allowance.


• Giddy Goat Toys is about the size of two toddler swimming pools joined together in a L shape. “It’s not that big but we jam a lot of stock in!” • Approx. 100 customers came in last Saturday and about 90% of people who came into the shop bought something. • Average spend per transaction was around £17.


“We change our window displays approx. every month. We’ve just taken down our The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Elmer window and we’re going to do a space-themed window to mark it being 50 years since the moon landing this July. We’ve got a window display set from Playmobil, plus space themed LEGO, games and books and the Brainstorm Toys Moon and Solar Systems.”


“The best thing about being based in Didsbury is the lovely friendly customers and being part of a community of traders who work together to help make it a nice place to live and shop.”

Above: The retailer’s recent Elmer window won it accolades from Rainbow Designs.


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Peppa Pig Š Astley Baker Davies Ltd/Entertainment One UK Ltd 2019.

Celebrate 15 years of Peppa Pig with our fantastic star collection...

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16/07/2019 11:35

Profile for Max Media Group

Progressive Preschool July/August 2019  

Progressive Preschool July/August 2019  

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