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It's great to see the toy category expanding in retailers such as Lidl and Waterstones outside of the traditional Christmas run in.

Mind the gap

When Woolworths went into administration in November 2008, it sent shock waves through the toy industry.

But, out of the turmoil, the savviest of retailers – namely the independents and the supermarkets – began to use the situation to their advantage, filling the gap by opening new stores and upping their toy ranges.

While the recent developments at Tesco are nowhere near as drastic, it has become such a dominant player within the toy business that other retailers must be rubbing their hands with glee (although perhaps not the suppliers).

As our cover story this month shows, it may still be tough on the High Street but toys seems to be the category everyone wants to be in.

Value supermarket Lidl is dipping its toe into the waters, having secured an impressive deal to be the destination retailer for Man of Steel, while Waterstones is looking to complement its existing stock with tailored toy ranges.Two names that wouldn’t be the first to spring to mind when you think of toys.

However, it’s great to see the category expanding into these kinds of retailers away from the traditional Christmas period.

Many suppliers, too, have been reporting a surge in sales from garden centres (see our feature on page 22 for more), as well as general retailers like Wilkinsons. Add to this specialists The Entertainer, Toytown and Smyths all planning to open new stores, in some cases internationally.

It all adds up to a healthy picture for the business overall and it will be interesting to see plans take shape over the next few months.

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