Party stalwart Tony Lewis joined US costume supplier Disguise just weeks before Covid-19 restrictions came into play across Europe and the UK. PartyWorldwide.net spoke to him to find out how the last few months have been and what’s in store for the future.
Thanks for agreeing to chat with us Tony. Can you tell us a little about your new role at Disguise – when did you take it on and what does it entail?
“I joined Disguise in February as UK sales director and my role is to open up the UK market via our fantastic array of exciting and new licenses for 2021. I’m also helping the Jakks Euro team and introducing them to new partners. It’s a fantastic opportunity that I’m relishing and looking forward to positioning Disguise as a key UK dress-up player.”
For anyone who doesn’t know, you’ve been part of the party industry for many years. How have the last few months measured up against the previous tough times this sector has seen? Does it feel different?
“Yes, I was a director and shareholder in the Christy costume business and instrumental in the successful sale of the group to Amscan in 2016. Obviously it’s been really tough especially not being able to physically meet customers and develop products together, however everyone seems to accept that video conferencing calls are the new normal. It definitely feels different to the tough times of ’07/’08 but the marketplace is now certainly showing great recovery strides.”
How has the Disguise team been keeping its spirits up?
“The team meet regularly and talk daily on the many different video conferencing platforms. We have ensured nothing has prevented us from presenting our ranges and line reviews while ensuring the calls are fun and full of information for all areas of the business.”
And do you have any advice for fancy dress retailers who are finding things difficult right now?
“Just keep fighting and doing what you do best, the customers are still there and will continue to buy for key events including Halloween, Christmas and World Book Day, make sure that you are always relevant and have the key stocks at all times.”
What are your plans for Disguise within the UK market over the coming year? Are there any big licences or major deals in the pipeline?
“We have big plans and are attacking all levels of retailer with product ranging from basic through to super prestige. We have two new deals, including the exclusive rights to market and distribute all of the fantastic Hasbro properties for 2021, as well as some amazing new licences which will be announced soon.”
And finally – what will you be dressing up as this Halloween?
“Mmm interesting! I think its going to be a gaming costume for sure!”