Spring Fair is one of the most important buying events in the preschool toy and gift calendar, attracting retailers and buyers looking to source product across a number of key categories and get their year off to a strong start.
More than 56,000 visitors will visit Birmingham’s NEC between Sunday 3 and Thursday 7 February 2019, all on the lookout for the latest in retail inspiration, cutting-edge design and fresh new brands.
While the gift and home market naturally offers plenty of cross-category opportunity, most independent preschool retailers will start their visit in Hall 5: Children’s Gifts, Toys and Gadgets. With over 100 exhibitors, there will be plenty of opportunity for visitors to browse the latest trends in children’s play products, from traditional wooden toys and licensed collectables right through to high-tech gadgets and pocket money purchases.
“The independent retail trade is vitally important to our business,” says Rainbow Designs’ md Anthony Temple. “Spring Fair provides the perfect environment to catch up with our existing customers as well as the opportunity to meet new retailers and open new accounts. 2019 is the 50th anniversary of Eric Carle’s classic storybook, The Very Hungry Caterpillar and we have introduced a brand new collection ‘The Tiny and Very Hungry Caterpillar’ that focuses on toys and gifts specifically for the newborn to 18-months age range.”
Little Concepts sits firmly in the ‘traditional’ toy sector, where market trends are particularly relevant and will be launching over 25 new lines at the show; from PlanToys, MOLUK, Makii and Makedo. “We use the shows to make sure we meet as many of our existing retailers as possible,” says co-founder Phil Nelson, “but we also love meeting new retailers as well. We have also noticed a real trend in the ‘open ended play’ sector, which is great for us, particularly our Moluk range, which specialises in unique, gender-neutral playthings.”
Joe Rushworth, sales manager at Marbel, is looking towards some of the key trends for 2019, predicting that the growing integration of technological enhancements into traditional toys will become more popular. This is a great development as it enhances a child’s experiences and allows them to imitate the real world,” he says. “Hape’s Junior Inventor range has really embraced this concept and is expected to do particularly well this year.”
“New lines will be available across most of our ranges but we expect our top preschool items to be our Playball range, our two-sided vehicle puzzles, pocket kites and the mini animal puzzles,” says UK and Ireland country manager Philip Morris. “We will also be introducing a number of items featuring sloths as this is a very popular theme for 2019.”
With a core customer base of bespoke toy and gift retailers as well as zoos and garden centres, Bertoy will be launching over 100 new items at the 2019 show.
Skip Hop, Stand 5F80
“We want to get our retail partners as excited as we are about our new launches for the year ahead,” says Skip Hop’s marketing manager Gemma Stokes. “2019 is going to be an important year for us as we are focusing on building our brand and we have lots of exciting products launching, including new line extensions as well as some completely new categories.”
Gemma also predicts that buyers will be looking for products that will help encourage toddler independence. “Products that enable little ones to learn to do things for themselves are increasing in demand,” she says.
“Spring Fair is the most important show of the year as we launch our brand new products for the coming season,” says Timesource director Jo Banner. “For preschool, we are introducing a wide range of time-teacher product, using colourful visual images and easy-read dials with clear precise numbering and letters and contrast coloured hour, minute and second hands. Character is so important for children’s watches as well – we design all our own characters and ensure all the products are brightly coloured, engaging and most of all, fun!”