Changing customer demographics and mercurial market conditions have all had their impact on the kiddie ride market, but diligent work throughout the supply chain is helping allay issues, comments Gareth Jones, production manager at Northern Leisure.
Speaking on general market performances Gareth Jones, production manager at Northern Leisure, takes a reasonably cautious line. His opening salvo was certainly a warning against complacency: “Other than maybe a slight spike recently, I don’t think anyone can deny that in comparison to a decade ago, the last few years have seen a decline in takings figures and revenue earned from kiddie rides and other coin-op equipment.”
Historic comparisons aside, that “spike” as Jones describes it, has been producing, and for some 18 months where the company has been finding positive performances further afield.
“Our customer base has expanded into new territories with a rise in exports around the world. This could be due to the recent strength of the GBP or the fact that we hold strong licences for children’s brands which have massive global exposure,” he said.
And there are other opportunities on the horizon, although not yet within the industry’s grasp. Jones sees modern payment methods as both blessing and curse, arguing that the current preference to pay via cards and apps has undoubtedly hit the cash boxes of kiddie rides due to the decrease in spare change around. But, he says, the industry is working tirelessly to find solutions to this.
“To accommodate what looks to become modern preference in coming years, we have worked on incorporating a contactless payment system within our rides which can run alongside your standard coin mechanism offering a wider scope for payment. We also have the ability to fit these systems into other operators or customers rides regardless of the make or model,” he said.
“It also helps with the age old problem of coin jams. If there is something stopping the coin from being inserted, then the card payment can be used as an alternative option until the jam can be cleared and ensures the ride can still generate revenue,” he added.
In terms of product specifics Jones highlighted the PAWPatrol Chase ride, which has seen consistently high takings since its launch in summer 2017 and the recently released Peppa Pig Camper Van as two standouts. Both make the most of high quality licences, the latter of which he feels was unrivalled in the current market in terms of customer uptake.
Whilst the popularity of these units is an enduring one, the constant refreshing of branding to appeal to a transient demographic is crucial. A key tenet of enabling this is the offering of new and refurbished units, of which Northern Leisure are at the forefront of.
“I believe it is important to offer both new and used rides. It helps the smaller operators and ensures refreshment within your own stock and fleet as well as the customers,” commented Jones.
“After sales service is something which we pride ourselves on. We offer free technical advice for all our rides and carry a large stock of spares for many makes and models of ride as well as our own, allowing for fast convenient despatch or repair.”