British toy brand seeks US PR agency

HUDDERSFIELD, UK: Designer nursery goods and toy brand Mamas & Papas (M&P) is looking for as US agency as it sets out to increase its North American presence.

HUDDERSFIELD, UK: Designer nursery goods and toy brand Mamas & Papas (M&P) is looking for as US agency as it sets out to increase its North American presence.

The company, which has annual revenue of approximately $188 million, currently works with UK agencies Starfish Communications, MCG PR, USP Group Ltd, and Z PR, which work on retail store PR and launches, furniture and interiors, broadcast PR, and fashion events respectively.

Gill Kingston-Warren, head of PR for M&P, said the company is initially looking for one agency to "get the ball rolling" but may expand to include other agencies as the company is able to sell more products in North America. Currently, M&P's toy products are available at retailers such as Saks Fifth Avenue, and the company is planning to sign retail agreements with other high-end stores.

 "That is our handshake opportunity with the US," she added. "Although [the US] is already taking some of our products, this is the first step."

The US communications plan will initially involve trade outreach, Kingston-Warren said, as the company will be at the American International Toy Fair in New York in February 2007.

"We're looking for an agency that can fit and dovetail into our business quite well and really understand and give us a bespoke service," she said. "We're quite a unique retailer and it takes a lot of dedication by an agency to get to know the business very well and then be able to sell it proficiently."

She added that experience in the toy industry is the most important criteria.

"It's not about size," she noted. "It's about the understanding of our market, the understanding of our needs, and what they can actually do in terms of conversion in the US.

High-profile Mamas & Papas clients include designer Stella McCartney and David Beckham.

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