The BVS has a new managing director: Steffen Kahnt. After a good Christmas business, he is now facing the challenges of the toy industry in the coming year.

On 1 December 2018, Steffen Kahnt, previously Deputy Managing Director of the Bundesverband des Spielwaren-Einzelhandels e.V. (BVS), became the official successor to Willy Fischel. He is retiring after more than 40 years. Kahnt, who has been with the association since 2003, will also take over the management of the technical department in the retail trade organisation with his new role.

Kahnt faces challenges in the toy trade

BVS Chairman Wieland Sulzer commented: “Willy Fischel has done an outstanding job in BVS. We will build on these successes and further strengthen the technical work in the retail organization. The BVS board looks forward to continuing the successful cooperation with Mr. Kahnt.”

At the same time, Sulzer emphasizes: “Like the industry, the toy trade is undergoing profound change. At the same time, new requirements and excessive bureaucracy are weighing heavily on our operations. A powerful lobby and effective representation of interests have never been more important.”

Toy retailers satisfied with Christmas business

However, the new managing director is optimistic about the Christmas business. The consumer panel of the npd group Deutschland GmbH is expecting German consumers to spend 3 billion euros on toys in 2018. Kahnt blames the continuing baby boom and full employment in Germany for this. Due to the baby boom of recent years, there are more adolescent children who are driving up toy sales with their wishes. The good economic situation and low interest rates are also making consumers more willing to spend money. “The inner cities are full and the Germans are in a buying mood. The ‘Black Week‘ at the latest attracted people to the shops and that’s a good thing in view of the shortened Advent season,” explains Kahnt.

Christmas business crucial

At 40%, the Christmas business in November and December makes a large and decisive contribution to the annual result. The Cologne-based BVS expects a sales increase of up to 1 percent, which would bring the domestic market back to around 3.1 billion Euros. The ‘Black Week’ at the latest lured people into the shops and that is a good thing in view of the shortened Advent season,” explains Kahnt.

Bastian Salewsky, the managing director of, can only confirm this: “The Christmas business at started with a bang: Black Friday was our absolute highlight this year, when we doubled our daily sales record. And that was just the beginning of the Christmas business. Thanks to a wide range of campaigns such as our Advent calendar, the further pre-Christmas period is the icing on the cake for our very successful year 2018.”

Toy highlights

In addition to toy classics such as building blocks, play worlds or dolls (sales growth of 18% between January and October), action figures (+18%) and collectable themes are particularly to be found under the Christmas tree. Highly in the trend: everything approximately around horses and railways. To the collecting hits of the yearly belong small L.O.L. – collecting dolls and the figures of the brand Paw Patrol. Another highlight was a doll with lifelike facial expressions and speech recognition to teach children how to speak. According to Salewsky, the absolute bestseller at, for example, was the Toniebox, a playback device for radio plays, both stationary and online.

Kahnt: “Classic toys continue to shape the lives of our children. Although screens with moving images are omnipresent today, parents don’t want children to constantly look at smartphones and displays, they want them to play, do handicrafts and romp around.”

Emotionalization to attract customers

After the sales sag in summer, the toy industry is back in the black. In order to attract customers, retailers are relying on the emotionalisation of their sales areas. In addition, they optimize their web shops and develop comprehensive online/offline shopping experiences and advertising approaches. Dealers focus on reducing inventory levels, making space more productive and reducing costs. A particular challenge in times of full employment is finding personnel with strong advisory skills.

BVS forecasts rising prices for 2019

Prices in the toy industry were largely stable this year. However, there could be price increases in 2019. The reasons for this are rising tolls, fuel prices, personnel costs and rising prices for cardboard and paper. Individual forwarders have recently experienced delivery difficulties, but overall the availability of goods in the retail sector and the delivery situation in the online trade are satisfactory.

For, this means continuing to work on “offering customers an absolute wow experience in our online shop and our branches. We are constantly working to achieve this.”


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Link: Current BVS press releases

Image: BVS