We Speak to Sven Karlsson — Toyworld General Manager

As General Manager of Toyworld Australia / Marketing & eCommerce, Sven Karlsson leads the Toyworld Product and Logistics teams, while also leading the newly formed Group Marketing and eCommerce Team. Rob Smith leads the Toyworld Australia Product Team and oversees all Toyworld product ranging from our Domestic and Import Suppliers. Rob comes from a wholesale and retail background, including Product Developer at Smiggle. Rob travels to key international Toy Fairs to ensure we continue to evolve our ranging in line with trends. Having the infrastructure to source from overseas suppliers means we can source products that may not have otherwise reached the Australian market.

Sven Karlsson
Sven Karlsson

Can you give us an insight into who Toyworld is?

Toyworld began in Australia in 1971 when a small group of retailers could see the advantages of buying together and sharing a common brand. Toyworld is the largest specialist toy retailer in Australia and New Zealand with over 150 stores across the two countries.

What are Toyworld’s core values?

We offer a great range of products supported by professional service from our passionate and knowledgeable in-store teams. Our local owner/operators are active members of the local communities in their dedicated locations.

Can you expand a little on what a Multi Specialist Retailer is and how it connects with your group?

With multiple brands within the ARL group including Toyworld, Sportspower, Camping World, Complete Angler, Shoex and Mensland, members are seeing the opportunity to trade multiple brands at the same location. A recent example is Sportspower Coffs Harbour who had the opportunity to increase his floor space, but rather than increase his existing store size, he opened a Toyworld store. There are a lot of synergies between a Sportspower and Toyworld customer and having them in the same location makes a lot of commercial sense.

Sven, from our conversation, the Associated Retail group has some 435 retail outlets in Australia and New Zealand, how does this benefit your business?

The biggest benefit is the scale of our group, and the experience of our members across the country. Around 50% of our 300 members have had over 15 years’ experience in retail, which is amazing.

Our role at the support office is to collect and share this best practice across the entire group. Outside scale enabling beneficial pricing from our suppliers, it’s also important as we look to integrate technology partners into our member’s stores that support our strategic initiatives including supporting local digital marketing and being integrated to eCommerce.

Where do you see your position in the market?

Toyworld is the only true National Toy Specialist with stores in all states. We are excited about a new store to open in Darwin soon. From a Toyworld point of view, Sydney is an opportunity we hope to capitalise on in the coming year or two.

Can you tell us a little about your new buyer Rob Smith and what he brings to Toyworld?

Rob understands all aspects of the buying cycle from a product ranging point of view, from developing and sourcing product and making data-driven decisions on core product ranging. His overseeing of both domestic and overseas suppliers means that he’s purely focussed on delivering our members the best range at the best price, whether
local or overseas.


Can you articulate the key things the industry can offer you as a business?

Great products! As a toy specialty retail brand, we’re always on the lookout for the latest products and aim to capitalise on the latest trends as they emerge. We want the industry to see us as a destination partner for new product.

Can you tell us what Toyworld can offer suppliers and partners from a synergy standpoint?

ARL offers suppliers a central payment arrangement, so suppliers can service over 120 Toyworld stores and only have to deal with ARL from a financial point of view.

We also can look at different routes to market with our members from direct domestic supply to us coordinating the order collection and managing the logistics through our import program.

What are some of the things Toyworld is best in class at?

Being locally owned and operated means that our stores adapt to local conditions very quickly, and overall you won’t find a better range of toys supported by personal customer service in-store than in a Toyworld outlets everywhere!

Tell us a bit about your new structure?

We have newly created Marketing, eCommerce and Member Support group functions to support all members. The aim of this structure is to give every ARL member the same support and opportunities to adopt the group initiatives that support our overall strategic plan.

What is the most efficient way for potential partners to connect with your group?

Through our website, suppliers can submit their information at the “contact us” page and this will be forwarded to the product team for review. We will reach out to you and review all opportunities.


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




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