CLOSE UP ON Geoff Sheffield
His love affair with the Toy Industry started when he was just 21 years old. This Hong Kong born, British expatriate is now a Director in one of the strongest Toy Retailers of the Middle East. Having spent 17 years with Russ Berrie starting as a Trainee Export Sales Person, Sheffield who has a Dual Business Major in Marketing and Human Resources from Germany, worked his way up and quickly became Director of International Sales to oversee Russ’s operation in over 53 countries including the UAE. His relationship with what is now RM Retail, started when Sheffield supplied toys to Gulf Greetings. After establishing a good rapport with the owners Geoff joined the company as the Director of Purchasing in 2011. For him and the other group of experienced Directors, the goal was, to take this family run business to the next level. RM Retail manages the well-known retail brands of The Toy Store and Hallmark across the MENA region. Recently, the company became the licensing agent for Hallmark Middle East and has 57 stores across the area. Both brands, have been in constant growth throughout the years and are expected to grow substantially in the near future. For Sheffield, it has been rewarding to see what RM Retail has become over the last three years and he is looking forward for the next period of expansion. His main tasks are to oversee the flow of products In and Out of the business, travel to international shows, and work together with the team of buyers to make sure they provide the customers with the most exciting and wide range of products. Their motto is that the customers should be able to buy what they want rather than the company telling them what to have. He states, that the toy industry is a fun industry to be in, he has never had a day where he regrets being involved in this industry. When he is on his time off, he’s always surrounded by kids wanting to ask him about the latest toys and the next big things. He adds that he always has the perfect excuse to play with the coolest toys of the moment. Family and friends describe this vibrant man as an active listener, with great eye for detail, sociable, ambitious and passionate. One of his co-workers agreed that he is a calming influencer in a storm. Regardless that his daily work involves long hours, pressure and stress, his love for toys and the opportunity to travel to international fairs make the job invigorating. When he’s not working he loves to travel to Flumserberg, Switzerland the land of his grandmother. There, he can spend countless hours away from the emails and pressures and enjoy the open expanse of the mountains and the abundance of fresh air. In the next 5 years, Geoff sees himself as part of the RM Retail team that will take The Toy Store outside the MENA region. He envisions The Toy Store brand going global and having outlets in all the major cities of the world through franchising, store expansion and online exposure.
Married to Sharon
Father of Maisie
Golf, Lego, mountain walking, video gaming, travelling.
Honest, loyal, hardworking, caring, Common sense.
“Work hard, play hard”- “Can’t say you don’t like it, until you try it.”
THINGS YOU LIKE TO DO IN DUBAI:
Fine dining, Shopping, Beach clubs.
Stars wars (The Original Three), Lord of the rings, Hobbit, Gladiator.
Lego (Death Star), Playstation.
FAVORITE ARTISTS/MUSIC GENRES:
U2, Ed Sheeran, R&B, Hip Hop.
DIRECTOR OF PURCHASING AT THE TOY STORE
- WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CARTOON CHARACTER?
Hong Kong Phoey
2. WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE TOY WHEN YOU WERE A KID?
Lego, still is.
3. IN WHAT WAYS ARE YOU STILL FAITHFUL TO THE CHILD YOU WERE?
A sense of adventure which was such a great part of my childhood is something I try and keep with me today. Trying new things, taking a leap into the unknown are the activities I enjoyed growing up whether it was role play, camps or simply creating games with friends. The great thing about the Toy/Gift industry is it gives you the chance to do this everyday and get paid for doing it. Ideal job right?
4. IN WHAT WAYS DOES THE KIDS’ WORLD ENRICH YOU?
Nothing beats this industry for putting a smile on your face. Whether it is the excitement of a new product and the anticipation of it entering the market, or the faces on the children when they enter the stores and see the products that the team have worked hard to bring to the region. A screech of excitement, the sound of laughter, these are the things that are more enriching than any sales numbers.
5. DO YOU CONSIDER LIFE AS A DREAM OR A CHALLENGE?
Life’s what you make it. There will always be challenges and it is how you handle these that ultimately determines the dream element of life. I believe family, health and security are the key values I try and achieve to keep things positive.
6. IF YOU WERE TO PICK ONE GAME OUT OF ALL OTHER ONES, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
If we are talking about classic board games then for me it has to be Frustration. My daughter and I have had more engagement (and battles) over this game than any other. Video Games I would say Call of Duty was the real game changer for me and absorbed more hours of my time than I care to admit to. As far as app games go I have to confess to being a Candy Crush fan.
7. WHERE SO YOU FIND PEACE AND COMFORT TO REGENERATE FROM THE STRESSFUL DAYS?
My escape to regenerate from all the madness is a small mountain town in Switzerland called Flumserberg. It is a combination of fresh air, mountains, no phones and hours of mountain hikes which make this the true epicentre of peace and regeneration in my world.
8. WHAT WOULD YOUR FUTURE PROJECTS BE?
My future projects are to help the business take The Toy Store to the global stage. Phase one has begun and there is going to be a lot of hard work over the coming months and years. After that obviously to make sure my daughter grows up to be a balanced young lady. After that be a mountain guide ;o)
ABOUT THE TOY STORE
1. HOW DID IT ALL START?
With thirty years of experience of retail in the Middle East in the Gift and Paper category the owners and management decided it was time to develop a new retail store concept of their own. The CEO Peter Bracken felt their was a gap in the market for a real stand out The Toy Store concept which tapped into the traditional values of toy retail, hence The Toy Store was born. The Toy Store was built upon and still drives out its core values of; 1. Play before you Pay, 2. Range over volume – let the consumer decide 3. Entertainment – demonstrations, live events, workshops and educational experiences 4. Safe and secure environment and 5. Service excellence. The first store was in Oman and today in a year when The Toy Store will celebrate its 10th birthday, there are now 11 stores with three more in process and more stores to follow along with the online store at www.thetoystore.com
2. WHAT ARE THE TOY STORE’S UPCOMING PROJECTS?
The Toy Store continues to evolve with both the retail market and developments in the toy industry. There are as mentioned before, new stores coming in Abu Dhabi and Qatar as well as new opportunities to add to the store portfolio every week. The in store shopping experience is to see some changes as we introduce new areas to our larger stores to widen the choice of product to the consumer.
3. WOULD YOU SHARE WITH LIFESTYLE READERS SOME OF THE GREAT
EXPERIENCES YOU ACQUIRED WHILE TOURING INTERNATIONAL TOY SHOWS?
International Toy Fairs are a melting pot of the traditional big name brands and lots of exciting new players trying to break into and own part of the market. I guess the most fun is seeing what the big brands are planning to launch. This year the lines from Hasbro were really impressive with fantastic toys under the Transformers property as well as strong refreshments of their Littlest Pet Shop and My Little Pony franchise. Seeing how technology is influencing the traditional game play has also been exciting to see and this Christmas we can expect that many of the most wanted toys will feature some kind of interaction with a tablet or the internet. My Friend Cayla will be a big hit for young girls featuring a doll which will answer any question you ask it using the Cloud to find the answers. These are the WOW moments visiting the shows which make all the planes, hotels and taxis worthwhile.
4. WHERE WOULD YOU TAKE THE TOY STORE TO, IF YOU WERE TO CROSS THE MENA REGION?
We are already well into our plan of taking The Toy Store beyond the borders of the MENA region. We have made public our desire to enter the UK market as well as looking at franchising opportunities across the entire world. We will have some exciting news to share on this soon.
5. CLOSE UP ON THE TOY STORE HISTORY!
The dream of the Owners and CEO when conceiving The Toy Store was to take a locally developed UAE brand and take it global, the opposite to many brands present in the malls here. Something I think which encompasses the entrepreneurial spirit of the UAE. At the same time bringing fun back to a retail sector that should be all about entertainment. The Toy Store is all about making the experience for every person
entering those stores one they will remember and wish to repeat. It is a fun industry and one which allows all those involved to let their inner child keep playing and create the magic moments for the kids of today, something we want to bring to children the world over. Wanna Play?
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