In our third instalment of our Q and A series, Buyer, Sopphire Kozlowskyi-Wallace shares their thoughts on the industry’s biggest challenges and opportunities and talks sustainability, value-led toy designs, new product innovation and more…
- Tell us about your role at Sambro?
As a Buyer at Sambro, I am responsible for managing a sourcing and buying team which includes myself and two assistant buyers across a range of key product categories.
In a nutshell myself and my team develop amazing products, then facilitate orders through the business until they are fully delivered and in store.
To do this, we work closely with key licensors, our in-house designers on product development to create innovative, award-winning products that fit in with both licensor strategies and Sambro’s own wider business goals.
Internally, we work with teams across the business, from Quality Assurance, to make sure of products are compliant, right through to the sales teams to ensure orders are placed to customer requirements.
As a team, we have to be very commercially aware to make sure we are one step ahead of our competitors, as well as know what our customers want, before they even have to tell us what they want.
- What are the main sectors you cover?
Some really exciting ones! Currently my work spans the outdoor toys space, which includes subcategories like inflatables and swim, which is gaining new interest from retailers, helping grow our portfolio for the spring summer seasons. Others include toys and games and stationery, as well as our own brand Puzzle Palz™ and Bops N Tops™ ranges in the collectables space.
- What are the biggest opportunity for brands in the toy space?
Sustainability! We’re seeing more and more brands come to us asking us to develop products and packaging that are sustainable, which for the toy industry can be a challenge. Consumers are actively seeking toys which are environmentally friendly and those toys and brands that can pivot and deliver products which do this, will see growth.
- And what is Sambro doing in the sustainable packaging space?
At Sambro we work closely with all our licensors, to ensure we develop products and packaging which are sustainable, and while it’s a mammoth task, we’re already seeing some successes with our recycled plush, plus some exciting new packaging redesigns which will come into play next year.
This includes a refresh of our inflatable packaging for SS24, replacing existing reusable plastic bag with cardboard boxes, which could save up to 4.8 metric tonnes of plastic from going to landfill per customer/product which makes the swap.
We’re constantly looking at way to re-package and make our packaging more sustainable. We have four pillars of focus, ‘Plastic Free Packaging’, ‘100% Biodegradable Packaging’, ‘Reusable Bag’ and ‘Reduced Packaging’. We also think of innovative ways to use the packaging as part of the play pattern, increasing both sustainability and play appeal.
- What are retailers looking for?
Primarily retailers look for value for money and innovation. They want an offering that no-one else has. They want a product at the right price, in the right place so they can promote it, which is why we need to be constantly innovating and developing new and exciting products, which disrupt the space and consumer demand.
- What exciting brands and ranges are you currently working on?
Stationery is the newest category in the business, we have extended the range this season with more SKU’s and licenses. Barbie being the most exciting with all the buzz around the movie at the moment!
- What’s next for Sambro?
We are currently in peak order season for SS24, so we have many orders coming in that we are currently processing – which is very exciting! Beyond that we’re also looking ahead to AW24, developing out new ranges across our licensed and own brand products, including our newest pre-school range with Acamar Films to support its growing UK consumer roll-out of Bing products.