“The first three months of this year showed consistent growth, both in value and in unit sales – an encouraging start to the year and, hopefully, an indicator of recovery for the toy market after the challenging conditions encountered in 2009.
Coming out of Toy Fair our licensees were all upbeat about prospects for the balance of the year and, hopefully, these early sales indicate that this optimism is justified. We are also hearing encouraging noises from retail toy buyers.
At Classic, we’ve had a great first six months. Our toy business for Postman Pat in the UK continues to grow – Character Options has extended its SDS licence until at least 2014 and we have also recently signed two brand new licensees, Modo for wooden toys and HTI for die-cast, role play and pocket money toys. Our two new pre-school brands, Guess with Jess and Tinga Tinga Tales launch at retail in the second half of the year.
I think we are in an advantageous position as our portfolio covers both classic and new properties, and there is an appetite for both across retail. Retailers see Guess with Jess as a ‘safe’ new character based on the enormous awareness and affection for our beloved black and white cat, while we are also getting a terrific response to Tinga Tinga Tales and have secured a solid base of listings for the launch.
2010 is going to be yet another highly competitive year in the pre-school sector – new properties will be battling it out for shelf space as the year progresses. We are highly optimistic that both TTT and Jess will cut through the competition. Pre-school toys and plush as categories have exhibited growth so far this year, which bodes well for their respective launches and we are excited about having a true ‘High Street’ portfolio of pre-school properties for the first time come Q4.
Without a doubt though, a huge driver of sales in the toy sector this year is going to be the release of Toy Story 3.”