Its symbol may be famously hexagonal, but for Sara Taylor, the Bakugan brand represents a full circle.
The newly promoted GM of Spin Master UK is particularly nostalgic—and excitedly optimistic—to see early sales growth for the revamped Bakugan brand within the UK, especially since the boy-skewing IP’s first iteration launched when she joined the toymaker 11 years ago.
“Bakugan was a huge brand and it put Spin Master on the map. To watch that success be replicated again is a very nice anniversary present for me,” says Taylor, adding that the brand is showing high-performing toy sales since the launch of Bakugan Battle Planet on Cartoon Network UK in March.
Bakugan is one of several brands under Taylor’s watch. She took the reins as GM earlier this month during a time of exponential sales growth within Spin Master’s Europe division, where regional gross product sales were up 42.8% in the company’s second quarter of 2019. Reporting to Hedley Barnes, who was recently promoted to GM for Europe and Russia, Taylor now sees herself as a conduit for company-wide synergies.
“My job is to ensure the company grows successfully and hits our targets. I’m passionate about properly using the talent we have in the organization and making sure people are working together,” Taylor says. “I’m the conductor of the orchestra and just need to keep everyone in tune and in rhythm.”
And that includes new voices, too, which Taylor hopes to add as the company grows. She is currently looking to add three positions to Spin Master UK’s sales team, one in each of the sales channels that exist within the UK structure: e-commerce, specialists and new business development. Taylor also wants to align existing groups more closely across sales, marketing, finance and operations. “Good, talented people make my job easier,” she says.
It also helps when some of the brand power with which you’re dealing is of evergreen proportions. PAW Patrol and Hatchimals have continuously been top sales performers in the region, Taylor says, which was also heavily dominated for Spin Master by boy-skewing products during the first half of 2019.
In fact, brands like Bakugan, DreamWorks Dragons and Monster Jam helped contribute to a 202.3% increase in the company’s boys action and high-tech construction segment across Europe to the tune of US$64 million in Q2. The second half of the year will continue to usher in the launch of more girl-targeting items like Candylocks, Awesome Bloss’ems and Owleez. (In Q2, the company’s preschool and girls segment rose 10.3% to US$96.4 million.)
“The UK represents the second-largest market outside of the US for Spin Master, and so our office is high on the priority list,” Taylor says, adding that practically all new IP creation takes place at Spin Master’s Toronto and LA offices. The UK office then sells and markets the majority of those brands.
Taylor says that Spin Master has been busy establishing direct offices across Europe (particularly in emerging territories like Central Eastern Europe and Russia, as well as Italy and Greece) rather than relying on regional distributors, a model that was used when she joined the company in 2008 as senior director of international distribution.
In terms of establishing and upholding her own corporate model, Taylor believes it’s important to operate as a collective rather than within fragmented divisions.
“My new role is really about bringing all teams together and developing new skills,” she says. “And from that you get good products and great people managing those products.”