Kids Time Fair 2017: A Look Inside Central and Eastern Europe’s Largest Toy Fair

KidsTime main photo

by Reyne Rice and Lena Hedo

The largest trade show for toys, games, and children’s products in Central and Eastern Europe, Kids Time 2017, was held in Kielce, Poland, from Feb. 23 to 25. The eighth annual international fair featured toys and products for babies and children, and recorded double-digit growth in key measurements, including more than 7,000 professional trade visitors and 474 exhibitors.

With overwhelming interest from exhibitors and buyers, the event organizers filled a total of seven exhibit halls, covering 16,292 square meters (more than 175,000 square feet), and had a wait list of nearly 100 manufacturers. Next year, the show organizers plan to add an eighth temporary hall to accommodate more curated exhibitors. The Targi Kielce Exhibition Center, home of Kids Time, is the second largest exhibition center in this part of Europe. [Read more...]

Coloring and Craft-Related Products Sales Grow Double Digits Ahead of Easter

NPDGroupFrom slime and foam to coloring and crafts, the latest trends around creative expression are driving U.S. sales of office supplies ahead of Easter, according to The NPD Group. The double-digit sales growth seen across coloring and art related categories suggests that a different wave of items may be joining the chocolate bunnies and stuffed animals in Easter baskets this year. [Read more...]

TIA to Host Washington, DC Fly-In Tax Debate for Toy Companies

As momentum builds on tax reform, trade, and regulatory reduction, the Toy Industry Association (TIA) is urging its members to attend TIA’s 9th Washington, DC Fly-In, where toy companies can share their concerns with key lawmakers. With the debate on healthcare reform now on the back burner, congressional and Trump administration officials are turning their attention to tax reform, including the controversial Border Adjustment Tax.  [Read more...]

Spin Master Reports Q4 and Full Year 2016 Financial Results

Spin Master Corp LogoSpin Master Corp. announced financial results for the year ended Dec. 31, 2016. Highlights include an increased revenue of $338.4 million, up 30.9 percent from $258.4 million in Q4 2015. Excluding revenue from Swimways Corp., which was acquired in Q3 2016, Q4 revenue grew 26.1 percent.

In Constant Currency terms, revenue increased by 33.9 percent relative to Q4 2015. Gross Product Sales increased 30.9 percent to $376.2 million, compared to $287.5 million in Q4 2015, driven by sales of Paw Patrol and Hatchimals, which more than offset declines in Meccano, Kinetic Sand, and Air Hogs Star Wars products. Excluding Swimways, Gross Product Sales grew 26.3 percent.

Other Revenue, which primarily reflects merchandising royalty and television distribution income from products marketed by third parties using Spin Master’s owned intellectual property, as well as app revenue from Toca Boca and Sago Mini (acquired in Q2 2016), increased 53.8 percent to $12.3 million from US$8.0 million in Q4 2015.

Gross profit in Q4 2016 increased 30.7 percent to $172.0 million, representing 50.8 percent of revenue, compared with $131.6 million, or 50.9 percent of revenue in the comparable period last year, reflecting higher sales volume

Adjusted Net Income was $9.3 million, or $0.09 per share, compared to $6.7 million, or $0.07 per share, in Q4 2015. Adjusted EBITDA was $22.9 million in Q4 2016 compared with US$13.6 million in Q4 2015.

Toys: By the Numbers

The NPD Group looks at the biggest growth drivers of 2016, and touches on what the new year will bring.

by Juli Lennett, U.S. Toys Industry Analyst, The NPD Group

Crossing the $20 billion threshold, the U.S. toy industry grew 5 percent to $20.4 billion in 2016, according to retail sales data* from global information company The NPD Group. Unit sales also grew 5 percent to $2 billion, and average retail price remained flat at $10.14. The industry was 16 percent larger in 2016 than 2013, which calculates to a compounded annual growth rate of 5 percent. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: An Important Step for Play: Mattel’s “Dads Who Play Barbie”

dadswhoplaybarbie_mattel

by James Zahn

It’s incredible how much things can change in what seems, on one hand, to be a few short years, but on another, the result of decades of struggle. As my wife and I celebrate our eighth year of parenting, it’s hard to believe that I, as the father of two girls, have already spent the better part of a decade invested not only in the development of two beautiful human beings, but also in carrying a torch for play. [Read more...]

China Toy and Kids Expo 2016 Issues a Challenge to International Brands

More exhibition space, more exhibitors, and more visitors: China Kids and Toy Expo is growing fast, just like Chinese population and its needs. With the new two-child policy, effective from January 1st, 2016, and the middle class growing its revenue, there’s more room for international brands. Are they ready to take up the challenge?

by Laila Caroli, contributor to the Italian trade magazine Il Giornale dell’Infanzia, BCMI member

The China Kids and Toy Expo, held from Oct. 19 to 21, 2016 at the Shanghai New International Expo Center, set new benchmarks in terms of visitors and international participation. The show had 65,467 attendes from 130 countries and regions, and nearly 500 international brands from 20 countries and regions (up 30 percent compared to the year prior). [Read more...]

The Five Mistakes You’re Making with Your Product Packaging

By Richard Carlow and Eugenia Chen, founding directors, C2C Studio

You have a cool brand, an innovative toy, and a great logo—but is that enough? Packaging, when done right, is what draws the consumer’s attention. It makes an emotional connection with a child or parent and motivates them to buy.

During our 20 years of combined service, we have seen a lot of mistakes made by companies in their product packaging. It is easy to eliminate these common errors, which can have detrimental effects on the launch of a new product. Here are five common mistakes to look out for: [Read more...]

WIT Member Spotlight: Anne Marie Kehoe

by Genna Rosenberg, Principal at GennComm & WIT Executive Board Member

Anne_Marie_KehoeWhether you call them wonder women, girl heroes, girls action stars, or girls with power, each corner of the toy industry is filled with powerful women knocking down barriers, pushing through walls, and empowering those around them. They support, promote, and inspire each other through connections, purpose, and empowerment. Providing opportunities to women economically is smart business, and no one knows that better than this industry’s own superhero, Anne Marie Kehoe, vice president, toys at Walmart and recipient of the 2016 Women in Toys Retailer of the Year Award. She is a real-life action hero in the toy world, committed to providing opportunities for women-owned businesses at Walmart. The Toy Book recently had the opportunity to sit down with Kehoe and discuss the role women are playing in the toy industry, Walmart’s commitment to source from women-owned companies, and what it’s like to be a bonafide Wonder Woman.

Why is it important for Walmart to source from women-owned businesses?

The short answer is that empowering women economically is smart business. Our women’s empowerment work is a step forward in our commitment to help people live better and a defining issue for our business and the world. For Walmart, empowering women helps us better understand and serve our customers, find the best talent, and promote economic growth in the communities we serve. Walmart’s Women’s Economic Empowerment program has the potential to be a game-changer for women and for economic growth. By tapping its core competencies as a global retailer, Walmart will empower more women to access markets and develop careers in the global supply chain, transforming their lives and the lives of their families.

Poketti

Two of WIT’s youngest members and co-creators of Poketti pitch their plush toys to Walmart.

Through its Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative, Walmart is paving the way for women-owned companies. How do toys and WIT fit into the overall mission?

Through Walmart’s Global Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative, we’ve set goals and we are taking practical steps to help change the lives of countless women around the world. We are committed to sourcing $20 billion from women-owned businesses for our U.S. business and double sourcing from women suppliers in international countries where we do business. Additionally, we have set goals to empower nearly 1 million women through training and promote diversity and inclusion representation within our suppliers.

Through its annual Empowerment Day held each year at the Dallas Toy Fair, WIT has been an incredible pipeline to women-owned business leaders. Our buyers are able to network with companies they may not have access to, and manufacturers can pitch their products to Walmart, participate in learning sessions and panels, and empower women to reach their goals. WIT is an important partner in this endeavor, and the event works as a two-way street. WIT members provide us with a robust pipeline to mine for new and innovative products we can provide to our consumers, and we provide WIT members an opportunity to meet with buying teams to which they may not normally have access.

What does it mean to be recognized as a WIT Wonder Woman?

It was really an honor to be recognized. But with the honor comes great responsibility, which I take very seriously. Throughout my career, I’ve strived to create pathways for women from all areas and WIT gives me an opportunity to do just that. I strongly believe in WIT’s objective—and am a member of the Empowerment Committee and advisory board. I am committed to the organization’s mission of providing a collaborative, supportive environment and unparalleled opportunities that foster relationship building and innovation, all designed to help them advance women in their careers and succeed in business.

Kehoe accepts her Wonder Woman 2016 Retailer of the Year award.

Kehoe accepts her Wonder Woman 2016 Retailer of the Year award.

What is the story behind the “Women Owned” logo that Walmart helped develop?

Women are our biggest customer base by far, and when given the opportunity, many women will buy from women-owned companies. In partnership with the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) and WEConnect International, we developed the “Women Owned” logo to help customers easily identify products made by women-owned businesses sold through any retailer, not just Walmart. All women-owned businesses that are WBENC and/or WEConnect certified are eligible to display the logo on their product packaging.

Can you give an example of a success story that came as a result of Walmart’s Women Economic Empowerment initiative?

During the very first WIT Women Empowerment Day, our buyers met Jodi Norgaard from Dream Big Toys. She had a line of dolls, books, and apps called Go, Go Sports Girls that promote self-appreciation and healthy life skills. When our team met with Norgaard, we saw something unique and wanted more, so we gave her some suggestions and agreed to a test in 50 stores. Within two years, her product was in 162 stores and we are proud to provide her products, which support creative play and social-emotional growth through sport, and encourage girls to dream big.

In another example, we are currently selling doll clothes made by apparel merchandising students from the University of Arkansas. A few years ago, through our Women’s Empowerment Initiative, we reached out to students at Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences at the University of Arkansas to design a doll clothing line for My Life As dolls in Walmart. The program allows students to interact directly with professionals in the apparel industry, build their resumes and portfolios with hands-on experiences, and showcase their work in a national retail arena.

What’s next for Walmart and its Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative?

As a company, we don’t believe that we have to choose between being a successful business and a responsible one. We have a model for making a difference that works. And when we combine the Walmart model with women’s empowerment, we have an incredible opportunity to make a difference on the big challenges facing our world.

Talkin’ Toys: Yvolution

Yvolution-Logo_Grey_Horizontal
The Toy Book caught up with Thomas O’Connell, Global CEO, Yvolution.

Tell us about Yvolution’s background and how the company was founded.

I began selling scooters all around Ireland when I was 21 and, in the 10 years after that, I had the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of the toy industry. When I first spotted the Fliker, our three-wheeled scooter, I knew it was radically different from anything else in the marketplace and looked insanely cool. I got in touch with the maker and it wasn’t long before they gave me global distribution rights. Then, in 2012, I co-founded Yvolution with Shane Connaughton and soon after, the Fliker hit shelves at Toys “R” Us in the U.S. and sold out.

These days, we’re continuing to design and manufacture cutting-edge products to keep families active and healthy. From balance bikes to performance scooters, we’re leading the pack in innovative outdoor toys that benefit overall well-being.

What kind of growth has Yvolution seen since its inception?

In 2013, we had a 4-foot space in Toys “R” Us and this year we are up to 32 feet, and we’re also in all major retailers. In fact, we are in more than 12,000 stores in the U.S. market, and our products are available in more than 50 countries worldwide. We are growing at an accelerated rate rarely seen in the industry. Customer satisfaction is at an all-time high and demand for new Yvolution products increases annually.

Yvolution_Y Flyer_lifestyle

How has the wheeled goods category changed over the years? And how has Yvolution kept up with the changes?

Other than character licensing, I feel there wasn’t much change for many years. A scooter was a scooter; a bike was a bike. Yvolution changed that, and in three short years it has become one of the leading brands in the wheeled goods category. We’ve pushed this category to new heights in innovation with the likes of our patented lean-to-steer scooters, Fliker scooters, and balance bikes.

What are your plans for later this year and next year?

We plan to continue the innovation that consumers have come to expect from Yvolution with a terrific fall line. Our Strolly brand will lead us into the baby category with strollers that convert to trikes and balance bikes, offering a tremendous value to parents as the product line grows with the child from baby to toddler.

New for older kids, we will introduce the Flyer, a stepper scooter that propels riders forward as they step up and down. Our Neon line of light-up scooters and skateboards will also showcase the diversity and talents of our designers and engineers.

Yvolution has been known for its balance bikes and self-propelling scooters, but you mentioned expanding into other categories. What prompted the change and what types of products will you offer in this line?

We are constantly reviewing trends and looking for gaps in the marketplace that we feel we can fill, as innovation is at the core of Yvolution. Our strength comes in being able to move quickly to bring new high-quality and innovative items to our retail partners. They trust us and know that we provide excellent product and value to their consumers.

What trends are you seeing in the wheeled goods category? How does Yvolution fit in with those trends?

The trend is moving away from regular two-wheeled scooters and moving more toward the lean-to-steer type scooters like our Y Gliders. Since 2013, our lean-to-steer scooters have seen an increase in market share. The light-up category is also trending, and we are on point with our plans to launch Neon light-up scooters and skateboards. »