Wymondham game maker Orchard Toys aims to find winning formula for the overseas market

Orchard Toys managing director Simon Newbery, right, with Ali Brown, marketing, and Simon Prest, sal

Orchard Toys managing director Simon Newbery, right, with Ali Brown, marketing, and Simon Prest, sales director, and their newest product, Cheeky Monkeys. PICTURE: Denise Bradley - Credit: Archant

Opening up key markets abroad is part of the puzzle for a games-making firm as it aims to drive growth.

The design studio at Orchard Toys at Wymondham. From left, Nicki Payne, illustrator designer; Kevin

The design studio at Orchard Toys at Wymondham. From left, Nicki Payne, illustrator designer; Kevin Dobson, graphic designer; April Nash, illustrator designer; and Caroline Noller, graphic designer. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Archant

Orchard Toys' products are sold in 50 countries, with exports making up 20% of its business – but the Wymondham-based manufacturer thinks it can double that figure in three years as it makes inroads into China, the US and the Middle East.

Managing director Simon Newbery said that turning the supply chain on its head – by manufacturing in the UK to sell in the Far East – was paying off, with aspirational Chinese customers keen to buy British.

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However, it is choosing to adapt other games – and Orchard Toys expects to produce 2.15m this year – to tailor them to foreign cultures.

He said: 'The export market is one we are particularly excited about. We are confident as we see it doubling in the next three years.

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'We are selling the same range of games in all those countries but in some we will make local adaptations.

'That might be as simple as a translating the words or using different characters.

'For example, our best-selling game is Shopping List. If you are selling into China, do they want the same items on their shopping list?

'Then again some countries want to get the British feel in a product. There is an aspirational population in China, and some other Asian countries, which wants to see into the western world.'

Most of Orchard Toys' games and jigsaws are for children aged three to eight, meaning that language is kept simple and can easily be changed to suit other countries.

Mr Newbery said having their design and manufacturing base in the UK meant the firm was able to create bespoke products for distributors easily.

To ease its way into the new markets, the company has brought distributors on board in the US, China and Middle East.

And it is already gearing up for its Christmas push, which for Orchard takes place over the summer, with more temporary staff hired in so that production can be finished by August – in time to sell to distributors for the festive period.

During peak times the firm is expecting to produce 60,000 games a week and employees pack 86 units per hour.

Toy trends

Orchard Toys styles itself as producing games which are educational as well as fun for children to play.

In addition to targeting overseas markets, the company has created a series of travel games and products aimed at children from age one.

Ali Brown, marketing manager at Orchard Toys, said: 'We wanted something with a lower price point and we are seeing a rise in sales of our mini games.

'We know from social media that a lot of parents take our games on holiday so we wanted a product which would suit that.'

While Orchard Toys' games and jigsaws have long had an educational element, the company has launched some products which more openly teach children, and this has proved popular with parents: Match and Spell has become its second-best seller in 18 months.

The firm is also seeing an increase in popularity in its range of games for younger children.

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