Read the latest issue of Progressive Preschool now

The new issue delves into the growth of garden centres for preschool product, as well as highlighting the Toymaster May Show, and the creative play and travel and holiday sectors.

It was back in January at Toy Fair when the possibility of garden centres becoming the new department stores was first raised in conversation. No longer just ‘somewhere to buy plants’, it was suggested they had become destination outlets – partly due to their out of town nature, but also because garden centres are somewhere which consumers are actively choosing to visit and, crucially, once there, consumers are kept there by the sheer amount of product for them to peruse.

Expanded product offerings covering home, pet and gifts, plus restaurants and, in some cases, soft play has resulted in attracting a younger and more diverse customer base, repeat visits and higher spending.

Garden centres have been a key part of PPS’ audience for many years, so it is rewarding to see how they have become integral to many preschool suppliers retail strategies. Rainbow Designs is just one company which has worked hard on developing a product strategy for garden centres and is continuing to invest going forward.

A number of British Garden Centres branches, meanwhile, are Toymaster members, showing that the investment is reciprocated. You can read more on pages 18-19.

Elsewhere at retail, the Toys R Us name looks set to become more of a permanent fixture, with WHSmith confirming it will be opening 30 more shop-in-shops after a successful trial last year. In the nursery space, Mamas & Papas has been making headlines with its partnership with British heritage brand, Laura Ashley, winning an award at the Brand & Lifestyle Licensing Awards in April.

Bargain Max, meanwhile, recently hosted a successful preschool event at HOME in Manchester, attended by 34 families with children of preschool age from across the Northwest region. Working with partners including Paramount, Moonbug and Hasbro, the event was the start of a raft of marketing activity that the retailer has planned going forward.

We’re not denying that times are still hard at retail, but on the flipside it is encouraging to see these bursts of positive activity. We’re hoping for more upbeat chat when we visit the Toymaster May Show in Harrogate and Licensing Expo in Las Vegas, two markedly different locations but both important events in the calendar, giving a chance to take a breath and catch up with peers and share stories and knowledge as we head into the second half of the year.

To read the full edition of Progressive Preschool May/June, simply click on this link.

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