Interview with Andrew Hendy from HeadStart

The Bugg Report catches up with Andrew Hendy, CEO – HeadStart Toys to learn about their entry into the US market and the amazing growth that the business has experienced.

The growth and innovation at HeadStart over recent years has been amazing and they have strategically worked to develop a combination of representing the best toy brands in the world, whilst at the same time developing their own portfolio of innovative toy ranges. Their commitment to brands has assisted them in pushing deep into the market with their own development with Ooshies and their recent Sesame Street toy range. This new development by HeadStart has been nominated for a LIMA Global Award in the Toys/Games/Novelties/Role-Play (0-12) category at this years Licensing Expo. HeadStart have invested heavily in marketing and promotion and they are well known for backing their leading toy ranges with TV advertising and impactful promotions. They have also recently moved to concentrate on new techniques including YouTube and unboxing to engage the consumer.

The big news is that you will launch your own new developments, Best Furry Friends and Baby Secrets into the US market this year. How will you support this move from a marketing standpoint?

HeadStart has been building a huge amount of content on our branded YouTube Channels, this content is pushed out to our target market with a very big advertising budget. Furthermore, we have partnered with some of the biggest influencers on YouTube and already received millions upon millions of views of videos featuring our products.

Clearly you have invested an enormous amount of energy and drive into your business over the past 3 years, what is your vision for Head start for the coming 12 months?

HeadStart’s vision is to continue to be Australia’s number 1 toy distributor, especially being known as the company who does more marketing than any of our competitors. In addition, HeadStart will continue to develop and build our own portfolio of brands and applying that same motto into our global marketing strategy.

Along with your more global approach, do you also have plans for the European market?

HeadStart has been selling in the European market for quite a few years and have some great distribution relationships in place. This will continue to grow as we introduce new product.

How do you view the Asian market, particularly China as an evolving toy market of the future?

HeadStart has probably over-performed in most Asian markets, although China remains untouched for us. There is no doubt the market is huge but it can be difficult for western companies to get it right in China (many are trying!).

Andrew, does HeadStart have a long-term view when it comes to your own toy ranges?

The toy business changes so fast that you almost need to take it one step at a time! One thing for sure is that we are good at developing and marketing collectables, something that seems too hard for the likes of Mattel and Hasbro, so this will remain a huge focus for us.

HeadStart has been nominated for a LIMA global award this year for Sesame Street Tickle Me Elmo, not bad for an emerging local Australian toy company. Will this assist in how the industry sees HeadStart internationally?

Yes, we are thrilled to have the nomination for Tickle Me Elmo. The team at Sesame Street took a chance on HeadStart, granting us the master toy license for Australia and New Zealand rather than keeping with a big multi-national. The move has been a big success and the Sesame Street business is booming.

Where will your priorities lie at Licensing Expo this year?

Looking for hot licenses that we can sell in toys. Let’s see what the licensors have got to show then I’ll tell you.

Andrew, we wish you all the best with the licensing awards and your move into the US market. The toy industry is very different now to what it was 5 years ago, it will require new thinking and new distribution methods to secure the future. We look forward to HeadStart becoming the next Australian success story overseas.