Norfolk’s 104-year-old toy retailer scoops industry award

Ian Pummell and Jon Starling of Starlings Toy Master

Ian Pummell and Jon Starling of Starlings Toy Master - Credit: Archant

Staff at one of the county's oldest toy retailers is celebrating today after scooping a prestigious industry award.

Starlings Toymaster, which has shops in Sheringham, Holt, Dereham and Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, took home the accolade of Specialist Multiple Toy Retailer of the Year (for up to five stores).

Managing director Jonathan Starling said: 'We are very proud. After 104 years of existence it's nice to be recognised by your peers.

'I think we bring a fantastic range of toys and promote good customer service to Norfolk really.

'It's a great team effort here between the four stores and we're like a small family working together.'

Echoing his ethos, Ian Pummell, Dereham store manager, added: 'It means a lot because it's an award within the industry itself.'

Organised by the British Toy and Hobby Association (BTHA) with the Toy Retailers Association (TRA), the awards were presented at a gala event held on the first day of the 64th annual Toy Fair, which took place at Olympia in West London last month.

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The BTHA chairman, Jon Diver, announced the winners, while the TRA chairman, Alan Simpson, unveiled the Toy and Supplier of the Year Awards.

Mr Diver said: 'The standard of entries received this year was exceptional, and it was pleasing to see increased entry numbers from the independent's UK department store sectors.

'The judges deliberated long and hard to find this year's winners because of the very high standard of entries received.'

Mr Simpson added: 'After last year's all round success, sales have continued to be buoyant but it has been much tougher and margins have struggled to hold up especially as Christmas approached.

'With Brexit negotiations continuing to impact on exchange rates and a new US president, we will again face change and challenges this year. However, I strongly believe that our industry will rise to these challenges, whatever they may bring, and in a year's time we will again have stars to celebrate.'

Starlings Toymaster first opened shop on Sheringham High Street - set up by Walter Starling as W Starling Bazaar - selling newspapers, hardware, tobacco, stationary and some toys.

Toy Retailer of the Year Awards

Independent Toy Retailer of the Year – JJ Toys, Gerrards Cross

Specialist Multiple Toy Retailer of the Year (up to five stores) – Starlings Toymaster

Specialist Multiple Toy Retailer of the Year (up to 30 stores) – SMF Toytown

Specialist Multiple Toy Retailer of the Year (over 30 stores) – Smyths Toys

General Multiple Toy Retailer of the Year – Argos

Department Store Toy Retailer of the Year – Arnotts of Dublin

Online Toy Retailer of the Year – Shop Direct

Overall Toy Retailer of the Year – Smyths Toys

Toy and Supplier of the Year Awards

Action Figures Range of the Year – Power Rangers (Bandai)

Pocket Money Toy of the Year – Mash'ems & Fash'ems (Character Options)

Interactive Toy of the Year – Snuggles My Dream Puppy (Character Options)

Craze of the Year – Pokémon (Esdevium)

Collectible Range of the Year – Shopkins (Flair)

Social Media Sensation of the Year – Speak Out (Hasbro)

Game of the Year – Pie Face (Hasbro)

Construction Range of the Year – Lego Star Wars (Lego)

Doll of the Year – DC Super Hero Girls 12″ Fashion Assortment (Mattel)

Imaginative Play Set of the Year – Num Noms Lip Gloss Truck (MGA)

Creative Toy of the Year – Gel-a-peel 3D Design Station (MGA)

Preschool Toy of the Year – PAW Patrol PAW Patroller (Spin Mater)

Outdoor Toy of the Year – Phlat Ball (Vivid)

Electronic Toy of the Year – Selfie Mic (World Apart)

License of the Year – PAW Patrol (Spin Master)

Supplier of the Year – Ty

Toy of the Year – Hatchimals (Spin Mater)

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