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Following her appointment to executive manager of the Australian Toy Association last week, Alice Sanderson chats to Toy & Hobby Retailer about not only her plans for the Association but how it has changed over the years. 

How has the ATA changed over the years while you've been there?

I think the ATA has become more relevant to our members and the industry. We are more involved in safety and compliance and aligning standards with our overseas counterparts. This assists our members by removing any trade barriers.

We have developed a second trade event in Sydney which is going strongly and we have built stronger relationships with the licensing industry as it is an important player in the industry. 

And of course the Toy Fair in Melbourne continues to be a relevant platform for our members to promote their product to retailers.

What are some key changes you hope to bring to the ATA under your tenure? How will you bring these about?

Like the UK and the US I hope to tackle parallel imports and counterfeit goods as well as traders that sell product that isn’t safe and compliant.

I think this can be done by forming relationships with key government officials, other Associations and industry bodies.

What are some long-term goals you have for the Association?

Keeping the Association relevant to our members and evolving with the industry. We thrive when the industry thrives so anything that we can do to assist this we will.

We have also just gone live with our new Value of Play website and social media channels and so I want to keep promoting this message to the community as it is a very important one.

What is your personal opinion on the future of the Australian toy industry (at retail, trade fairs, eCommerce, sustainability etc.)?

I think it is very tough out there in retail and we see this with the closure of Toys R Us and recently some Big W stores.

I think this may be turning around though as you look at what Kidstuff and Toymate are doing and of course Toys R Us are now coming back which is great!

I think that there is always going to be a need for toys and we are lucky in that way and I believe that parents want to ensure they buy credible and safe products so there will always be a need for bricks and mortar.

Online will of course still have its place and more bricks and mortar stores will realise that they need to be in that space as well to keep competitive.

Sustainability is a very important one and we are starting to see some of the big guys lead the way with that.

I think trade fairs will always be relevant as they provide one location for our retailers to come and view all the new products available.

Other comments?

I would like to again thank Gabby Anderson for her contribution and passion for the industry over the last 17 years. I wish her the best in her future career. I have big shoes to fill but I look forward to the challenge!

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