We Speak to Luke Hartwell — Country Manager at ZURU Toy Company

ZURU Toys is one of the largest toy companies in the world, known for its innovation, creativity and disruption through automation. The Toy Universe had the chance to speak to Luke Hartwell, Country Manager at ZURU Toy Company, about the Australian market and what is on the horizon.

Luke Hartwell
Luke Hartwell

Luke can you tell us briefly about your new Country Manager role with Zuru Toys?

We identified Australia as a high potential market for ZURU and outlined our purpose, objectives, and strategic partners for the years to come. We’re 12 months into our journey and setting strong foundations for the future. It’s a fantastic market, with great people and a positive outlook. We have landed several initiatives, learnt a lot along the way and we have more to come in the all-important golden quarter. As a business we’re pleased with our start, but it’s only a start and we have significant room for improvement.

We identified Australia as a high potential market for ZURU and outlined our purpose, objectives, and strategic partners for the years to come.

Luke Hartwell

How is your partnership with Darren at All Brand Toys developing?

Darren Hunter and the team at All-Brands are integral to our business and mission in Australia. All-Brands are ZURU’s strategic distribution partner and we’re striving for continuous and compounding improvement, all the time. We’ve penetrated new channels this year and are broadening our partnerships and relationships to accelerate our position. A brilliant business with brilliant people.

It’s been an interesting year, how do you see the run to Christmas here in Australia?

It’s been a fascinating year so far, more broadly it’s been an interesting three years for the Toy Industry, globally. The market has become more challenged which is understandable considering the pressures and macro-economic environment. It’s going to be an incredibly competitive second half. However, it’s not all doom and gloom. We’re incredibly excited for the run up to Christmas and are looking forward to bringing our brands to life with our partners and delighting consumers this Christmas.

We notice the launch of a number of new toys from Zuru, are there any standout performers?

Snackles is exceeding all expectations, since launch our plans have quadrupled. 5 Surprise Mega Gross is hot and selling out. Rainbocorns Mermaidcorns is another Big Bet and started incredibly well. It’s an exciting period and we still have more to come, including X-Shot Insanity Motorized Rage Fire, which will launch imminently in Australia. Initial reads from both the UK & USA are incredibly encouraging, more than double our initial plan.

It’s clear that Zuru has an outstanding alignment in all aspects of its operations, this must be a key factor in powering your growth and improvement?

We believe that this is our competitive advantage. We’re progressive and dynamic and our core value is continuous and compounding improvement across our entire operation. Vertically Integrated Manufacturing, Speed of Innovation, Digital and Data is at the heart of our business and what enables us to provide market leading solutions.

From what we see currently and emerging does Zuru aspire to resonate as a go to global brand?

Definitely. The ambition for ZURU globally is to be up there with the likes of Disney, Tesla, and Apple. We’re more than a toy company and we obviously have a long way to go, but this aligns to the principles we hear every day from the Mowbray’s and Leadership Team — Relentlessness. Continuous improvement. Grit.

We have recently witnessed the success of your new in-house marketing campaigns, particularly on your ZURU X-Shot product it looks best-in-class?

That’s our objective. We’ve learnt a-lot. We have dedicated teams focused on creating and developing our own content for platforms such as Tik-Tok, which is one of our primary vehicles to build awareness, drive engagement and understand trends. Our current best sellers such as Snackles, X-Shot Skins, X-Shot Insanity and 5 Surprise Mega Gross are the most recent example of this.

And finally Luke, is there anything in particular you would like to add?

It’s been a fascinating year so far and we’re looking forward to the Christmas period. A huge thank you to our retail partners and All-Brands for your continued support and partnerships. It’s an incredibly exciting period and we’re only just getting started.

Thanks for your time Luke and all the best for Q4 of this year!

This article is also featured in Edition 6 of The Toy Universe Magazine




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