Hong Kong toy firm to set up marketing arm in UK

By Michele Simpson

Hong Kong-based toy company Playmates is setting up a UK toy division apparently after severing links with its European distributor.

Playmates – a marketer of many of America’s best-selling toys, such as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – advertised last week in the UK for a finance director and a sales and marketing director.

The company already has operations in California and is expected to make an official announcement in the next month on its planned moves to set up a multinational toy design, marketing and distribution company in the UK.

The company’s Hong Kong-based vice president of international operations, John Sinclair, is expected to head the UK division of Playmates, which will not start operations until next year.

Playmates, which distributes other well-known toys, such as the Star Trek franchise and the Earthworm Jim toy line, is not expected to have a major impact on toy giants Hasbro and Mattel in the UK.

The company will, however, be competing against smaller companies, such as Matchbox toy maker Tyco Toys.

The company’s planned move to establish European and UK headquarters is understood to stem from problems with toy manufacturer Ideal Loisirs, in which Playmates owns a 35 per cent stake.

Playmates’ 3.6m losses this year have been attributed to Ideal undertaking a restructuring exercise to rationalise its operations.

David Yu, group executive director of Playmates, says that the company will “continue to review its investments in associated companies to ensure that the best long-term interests of the shareholders are served.”

Tyco toys has appointed former International Distillers & Vintners marketing controller Chris Coyne as UK marketing director following the resignation of group marketing director Michael Moody this month (MW October 20). Coyne was made redundant by IDV in March after a marketing department reshuffle. He previously worked in the marketing department at Palitoy during the Eighties, where he helped develop the games Pictionary and Trivial Pursuit.

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