Founded in 1944, the British Toy & Hobby Association is the official organisation representing manufacturers for Britain’s £3 billion toy market. The Association promotes the highest standards of safety and quality in the manufacture of toys, games and playthings.
No manufacturer is admitted to membership unless he /she undertakes to manufacture products in accordance with the requirements of the Toy Safety Directive, to hold the required documentation and is able to satisfy the Association’s toy safety advisor of a commitment to a safe manufacturing process.
The Code of Practice also requires members to commit to responsible practices on both marketing to families and environmental issues to best reflect members’ commitment to good practice.
The BTHA represents the interests of the toy industry on a national and international level, addressing issues and commercial problems which could have a profound effect on the toy business. In Brussels the BTHA takes a leading role in European discussions and decision making through its active membership of Toy Industries of Europe and other European working committees, ensuring that the UK’s toy industry is at the forefront of international affairs.
The BTHA secretariat in London is headed by the Director General, Roland Earl and seven staff. The activities of the Association are directed by Council, elected annually. The Council, in turn, is supported by the work of five committees (Toy Safety and Sustainability; Public Affairs and International Relations; Toy Fair; Toy Trust and Finance) whose members are drawn from the Council, as well as the wider membership, all of whom have specialist knowledge of their committee’s working area.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has described the BTHA as “one of the best organised bodies of its kind in the country”.
If you are involved in toy manufacturing, the BTHA is well placed to represent your interests.
The benefits of membership are listed below, please contact Tracey@btha.co.uk for further details;
*Please note –the benefits of full membership (asterisked) are not available to associate members
Legal advice* – The BTHA’s solicitors, DLA Piper, offer a FREE telephone service for members who have general legal queries. The service is for issues that need a quick response of up to 15 minutes of FREE time. In addition the solicitors offer guidance on the BTHA website on common enquiries such as intellectual property rights. (Please note; more detailed legal advice may incur a fee which will be discussed before any work is done).
General Advice and Representation – The Association takes a close interest in areas such as responsible marketing communications, environmental best practice and leading toy safety knowledge under both self-regulatory and regulatory systems and regularly issues e-newsflashes to advise and update members on matters relating to such issues. There are other areas too where the Association endeavours to ensure the interests of members are properly represented such as with government-backed enquiries in to areas such as supply chains, commercialisation, advertising and packaging and to highlight the responsible nature of the BTHA membership, as you would expect. Our ever-evolving Code of Practice tries to keep ahead of the issues, and an addition was made for 2012 to reflect this in the case of adding a section on peer-to-peer marketing. Help and advice on best marketing practice , sustainability guidance and toy safety expertise can be found in the CSR and safety sections of the website. In 2016 the BTHA added some other commitments on responsible advertising to reflect members’ good practice.
Public relations work – The BTHA works to highlight the importance of play and toys in child development – through the media and relevant third parties. This is an active programme, as well as responding to numerous requests from the media. In 2010 the BTHA developed a campaign to promote the benefits of play to children and their parents, under the banner of Make Time 2 Play. In 2014 the campaign won the Best CSR award from the Trade Association Forum. In 2015 the campaign called on prospective parliamentary candidates to support the importance of play in the run up to the elections. In 2016 MT2P capitalised on its message on the importance of play through its social media presence on Facebook, twitter, website and through its free Apple and Android app, as well as via TV adverts from the generously donated airtime on TV and cinema. Please contact Natasha Crookes to get involved with the campaign.
Media Relations – The BTHA represents the industry as a media spokesperson on a range of issues affecting the industry throughout the year.
Publications – The BTHA produces a number of leaflets on the benefits of play. It is an active member (and administrator) for the National Toy Council which also produces leaflets for consumers on toys and play. The BTHA is producing a series of leaflets giving advice on the best forms of toys and play for children with special needs. All BTHA leaflets are available from the value of play section of the website.
The BTHA, over many years, has forged strong relationships with key government departments to try to ensure fair and reasonable regulation for the conduct of the business of members. It is active in its relations with government in both Westminster and Brussels on matters affecting the toy industry and encourages dialogue with government organisations, opinion formers and key groups that affect the climate for the toy industry.
In addition, the BTHA recognises the importance of maintaining good links with related organisations and those opinion formers with an interest in children, safety, marketing of toys and sustainability.
Organisations such as the Child Accident Prevention Trust and the National Children’s Bureau are important to the work of the BTHA and a working group, the National Toy Council, brings key organisations together informally.
The Trading Standards Institute and Trading Standards Officers are extremely important to the BTHA and the wider toy industry. The BTHA places a strong emphasis on working closely with Trading Standards to create a fair, well regulated market place. The BTHA exhibit each year at the Trading Standards Conference and run seminars to impart knowledge to Trading Standards Officers about toy safety.
The BTHA has taken major steps to ensure that there is efficient and effective representation for members in Europe. The BTHA was instrumental in the formation of Toy Industries of Europe (TIE) which was established as a European toy interest group in Brussels, of which the BTHA is still an active member. For instance, in the past four years the Association, through its membership of TIE, has taken an active part in the revisions to, and implementation of, the Toy Safety Directive and will continue to try to ensure workable solutions are found for members.
Membership of the BTHA also ensures effective representation on international toy safety committees. Members of the Toy Safety and Technical Matters committee are active in European safety groups and have been successful in creating working safety documents which have been adopted by the European Commission for use throughout the EU.
The BTHA is an active member of the International Council of Toy Industries (ICTI), with a BTHA director sitting on the ICTI Board of Directors. This group meets at least once a year to discuss global toy issues and to swap best practice to ensure members of associations around the globe are trying to achieve the highest standards possible for their membership and to discuss cooperation and alignment where possible.
ICTI also takes an active interest in the ICTI CARE Process – The CARE (Caring, Awareness, Responsible, Ethical) Process is a programme originally set up by ICTI to promote ethical manufacturing, in the form of fair labour treatment, as well as employee health and safety. Its initial focus is in China, where approximately 80 percent of the world’s toy volume is manufactured. Its intent is to provide a single, fair, thorough and consistent programme to monitor toy factories’ compliance with ICTI’s Code of Business Practices.
The BTHA asks every member to annually declare their commitment to using ICTI CARE factory standards or an equivalent or higher recognised ethnical compliance standard in their manufacture of toys.
The BTHA Director General currently has a place on the ICTI CARE Governance Board in his position of ICTI past President.
Full membership of the BTHA gives members the ability to use the Lion Mark on packaging for toys for the U.K. market. The Lion Mark continues to be an important, easily identifiable mark for trading standards officers as well as the public at large. It identifies a member of the BTHA and the associated adherence to the BTHA’s Code of Practice, notably in terms of product safety (but also in other areas; ethical and safe manufacture of toys, a ban on counterfeit goods, an assurance to market responsibly, a commitment to improving sustainability and a desire to promote the value of all play). The Lion Mark was launched in 1988 and is a unique consumer safety quality mark for toys.
Full members may apply for a licence to use the Mark.
Toy Safety is the first priority of the BTHA and the Association strives to support its members in attaining the high safety standards expected of a responsible toy industry.
One of the main roles of the BTHA is to help ensure toy safety and toy business go hand in hand. The BTHA does this in four ways;
- We work hard to try to stop unworkable legislation negatively affecting the way you are able to conduct your business.
- We utilise industry expertise from within member companies to break down new legislation into understandable information and guidance documents.
- We provide safety advice to keep you up-to-date with all the latest information via; safety advisory calls, visits, conferences and newsflashes
- We create, or negotiate access to, tools and systems to help to deliver easy ways to meet compliance
Safety Advisory Service* – All members of the BTHA have access to a confidential safety advisory service which can help with safety related issues.
In the first instance the service allows you to ask, free-of-charge, about any safety issue over the telephone and our safety advisors will help with your query in a confidential and sympathetic environment. The free telephone or email service is there to answer general safety enquiries or issues you may have come across during the course of your business. There is a limit to the amount of advice that we can offer and the type of advice that can be offered without detailed knowledge of the product or trading conditions. The advisory service would be able to point members in the right direction and answer straightforward questions, limited to a few questions per year for each member. However where the advice becomes consultancy, which would require product samples or a more lengthy discussion, we suggest the subsidised consultancy offer detailed below or suggest you discuss the costs of independent consultancy offered by consultancy services.
Subsidised Detailed Toy Safety Consultancy* – In addition to the free telephone service, the BTHA offers members a more detailed level of advice.
The BTHA will subsidise a visit by one of our safety advisors to come to your offices and help with any technical advice on your products. The cost for the day would normally be £400 plus expenses, however the BTHA will subsidise the visit by £200 to ensure you have low-cost access to safety advice as you need it. Visits are limited to two visits per member per year (as availability of experts allow).
Safety Surgeries* – In addition BTHA safety advisors offer FREE safety surgeries on site at Toy Fair each year. You can book your appointment through the safety advisory service in advance of the fair.
Safety Newsflashes – Members will be kept up-to-date on the latest safety information via our regular safety newsflashes which will direct you to new information on the safety pages of the BTHA website. Once you are a member you can email the BTHA to ensure your in-house safety advisor is sent these updates directly, simply email the BTHA to let us know their contact details; firstname.lastname@example.org or update your contacts profile on the BTHA website.
Safety Pages of the BTHA website – The BTHA has created members-only access for sections of the new BTHA website which only members of the BTHA have access to. Before legislation and compliance guidelines are published we give members early advice on potential issues. These pages are locked to non-members and are accessible once members are logged-in to the website.
Once guidance/legislation is finalised it is unlocked so that retailers and other partners can access the information to try to encourage the whole industry to work to the same recommended industry guidelines.
Toy Safety Expertise – The BTHA retains a number of toy safety experts to keep up-to-date on the latest developments and to give advice to the membership. These experts work with a wider field of toy safety specialists from the BTHA membership through the BTHA’s Technical Committee. They also meet regularly with advisors from the wider industry.
The group meets three times a year as a full committee and smaller working groups meet between these times to cover specialist subjects. Many of the members are specialists in their field and represent the wider toy industry in discussions, helping to develop the key toy safety standards through various working groups, both inside and outside the BTHA.
The work of the Technical Committee is fed back into the European Union and into other associations and key stakeholder groups (such as Toy Industries of Europe, the International Council of Toy Industries, the Trading Standards Institute and the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills) to ensure the BTHA has a voice during discussions on toy safety issues that will affect members.
One of the committee’s main roles is to develop guidance for BTHA members and to highlight potential upcoming issues for consideration. Once an upcoming issue has been highlighted the committee establishes the best experts to look into the subject and to draw up working guidelines to help standardise the response to the issue and clarify the toy industry’s position.
Published guidance documents are made available on the website to ensure as many people as possible have access to the information to try to ensure there is one standard way of conforming to an issue that all stakeholders can accept, including members, retailers, trading standards officers, laboratories, etc.
BTHA coordinated Primary Authority Partnership
In March 2014 the BTHA signed a memorandum of understanding with Milton Keynes Council and entered into a coordinated Primary Authority partnership. This means that companies that join the BTHA Primary Authority Scheme (which is free) will get legal assurance against any prosecution within the UK if they follow the guide advice
Primary Authorities provide robust, bespoke advice that must be respected by all other local regulators. This enables businesses to invest with confidence in products, practices and procedures, knowing that the resources they devote to compliance are well spent. When advice or documents are assured by a Primary Authority, under certain circumstances, members following the guidance can be defended against any legal action within the UK. For more information visit – http://www.btha.co.uk/toy-safety/primary-authority-partnership/
BTHA Standards Service – FREE access to selected product Standards from BSI* – The BTHA are able to offer full members view-only access to standards via the British Standards Online system. Many members will each spend a considerable sum each year on relevant BSI standards. This service allows you to access them for free.
You are able to visit BSI online to view a list of up to 200 selected product standards that cover toys (please be aware that these will be available to view online but will not allow you to download or print the documents). The list of accessible standards in the BTHA subscription should cover the majority of members’ needs for toys, nursery and related electrical items. In addition to the standards members can set themselves up for e-mail notifications when standards change which will help to meet legal requirements relating to monitoring and using the latest product standards.
Toyograph* – Members have FREE access to the chemical risk assessment system development by the BTHA safety experts – Toyograph. Toyograph® has been developed by the BTHA in association with Bureau Veritas as a ‘Chemicals toolkit’ exclusively for FULL BTHA members. It has been designed to help identify the restricted substances that are likely to be present within commonly used toy materials so members can decide on appropriate, targeted compliance routes.
Toyograph® is an interactive web based tool designed to allow manufacturers to use their Bill of Materials to determine which materials are at risk of containing restricted substances above the limits specified in legislation or at levels that may be a safety concern. Toyograph is constantly updated to keep ahead of restrictions to help members to stay ahead of changes to the law and consider material choices in design well in advance of regulatory changes.
The Toyograph can be used to:
- Demonstrate compliance to standards and regulations as part of the Conformity Assessment.
- Assist in the obligation to Ensure Conformity of Series Production with regards to chemical compliance.
- Assist in carrying out the Chemical Safety Assessment as required by the Toy Safety Directive.
- Assist in the consideration of chemical safety and compliance during product development and product specification.
- Identify questions for factories concerning raw material content.
The Toyograph is intended to cover commonly used materials and a defined legislative scope. To find out more about Toyograph log on to the members access area of the BTHA website and visit http://www.btha.co.uk/toy-safety/toyograph/.
Chemtrac® database* – With the ever increasing number of restricted substances companies need a way to stay up to date with regulatory restrictions and with full details of substances. Chemtrac® is a database of over 150,000 substances which are matched to more than 50 EU and global regulations. Users can search, filter and sort substances and download full details of an individual substance. Users can use this information for their own product knowledge as well as in responses to media and customer concerns. The BTHA subscription service will be free to full members and will include the BTHA substance watch list that will highlight possible future restrictions for the toy industry.
The BTHA has a sustainability Committee made up of industry and sustainability experts to keep up-to-date on the latest developments and to give advice to the membership. The group meets three times a year as a full committee helping to develop advice and guidance for members and feeding into wider national and European networks to influence legislation and decisions which will impact the membership. From 2017 the Sustainability Committee will meet in tandem with the Technical Committee to develop the best solutions in this area.
The Sustainability Committee have created a practical guide to help companies to better understand how to assess and reduce their environmental impact in order to make cost and environmental savings. The Environmental Impact Assessment is available on the sustainability pages of the BTHA website alongside case studies from BTHA members. The aim of these sections is to encourage best practice; to inspire all members to work to achieve a more sustainable industry; to reduce waste; reduce resources and reduce costs.
Details on social sustainability can also be found on the BTHA website including details on ICTI CARE and the Modern Slavery Act.
Sustainability documents are available through the BTHA website (please ensure you log-in to see the full services) – http://www.btha.co.uk/csr/environmental/
Environmental / Sustainability Advice and Guidance including;
- An introduction to Sustainability
- Environmental Impact Assessment Guide
- Quick Reference Guide to Sustainable Toy Packaging
- Design Tips for Sustainable Packaging
- Guidance on dealing with Special Packaging Requests
- Packaging Essential Requirements Guidance
- Guidance on EU timber Regulations
- Guidance on Energy Savings Opportunities Scheme regulations
- Guidance on Greenhouse Gas Reporting
- Guidance on TRIMAN
- WEEE and RoHs Regulation Guidance
- A summary of the EC waste Plastics Green Paper
- Battery Regulations Guidance
- Green Claims Guidance
- Information on the Green Dot Model
“The On Pack Recycling Label” (OPRL) – This scheme, hosted by the British Retail Consortium, is offering BTHA members an introductory offer of 18 months for the price of 12 (£950 + VAT per annum for oranisations with turnover of £5 million or more and £299 + VAT per annum for organisations with turnover of under £5 million) on the OPRL license fee to use the OPRL on pack labelling to inform consumers about what packaging can be recycled. If you are interested in this members need to visit the OPRL website (www.oprl.org.uk). There is also an opportunity for a discount for renewing members – Please contact email@example.com to take advantage of this offer.
Toy Packaging Research – Members have access to the BTHA commissioned results on the quantity of toy packaging and the reuse of toy packaging in the sustainability section of the website visit http://www.btha.co.uk/csr/environmental/advice-for-members/.
Toy Fair – The BTHA runs an annual trade event at Olympia Exhibition Centre, West London, in January each year. It is the largest dedicated toy trade event in the UK calendar and attracts exhibitors from small innovative start-up companies to some of our largest members. Visitors cover the spectrum of toy retailers in the UK, as well as other industry partners including licensors and inventors.
Members are entitled to a significant discount for the Toy Fair * as long as they are accepted into membership by the BTHA Council at the first Council meeting of the previous year. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any enquiries about exhibiting at the Toy Fair.
Industry Awards -At the end of the first day of Toy Fair the industry comes together to celebrate the best of the business at the annual Industry Awards Evening. Organised with the Toy Retailers Association, the awards evening includes food, drink and a chance to network and the presentation of awards to the best retailers and suppliers of the year as well as recognition of individuals who have made a special contribution to the toy industry with the presentation of Golden Teddies and Special Recognition Awards. All members are welcome to attend the event; tickets are available from November. Email email@example.com
AGM / Industry Day – Members are encouraged to attend the Annual General Meeting which takes place in June each year. To make the visit even more worthwhile the BTHA organises an Industry Day for the remainder of the day. In conjunction with the Toy Retailers Association a programme of speakers and networking opportunities are organised for members to meet guests from all aspects of the industry. Details are sent out at the end of April. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Seminars and Workshops – The BTHA is here to help members to understand the legal and best practice requirements of conducting their business. It organises educational workshops and events when needed and details will be shared with members as the events are added to the programme.
Membership of the Association brings you into the Toy Trust community. The Toy Trust is the toy industry’s charity (administered by the BTHA). The Toy Trust charity committee brings together representatives from across the whole of the industry to raise money for deprived or disadvantaged children. Support comes from suppliers, retailers, licensors and media partners as well as from the industry’s trade magazines. All members are welcome to take part in the Toy Trust activities which raise an average of £250,000 – £300,000 per year for children’s causes and in 2016 surpassed £5,000,000 raised since the trusts inception helping 1,700 charities– with all money raised helping to support disadvantaged children. They are also a fantastic opportunity for networking or team building.
2017 marks the 25th anniversary of fundraising by the Toy Trust. There are various special initiatives planned for the year including the industry being encouraged to purchase a 25th anniversary commemorative pin badge.
The 2017 Toy Trust Big Cotswold Challenge will see an expected 300 industry professionals walk, cycle and complete a ‘Tough Mudder’ challenge to raise money for the Toy Trust. The event will feature a 50 and 80 mile bike ride and family friendly walking events to raise money for the Toy Trust. A fundraising target of £200,000 has been set for the event.
Another fundraising activity is the annual media auction, which takes place in the run up to, and during, the awards dinner. Children’s and trade media channels donate airtime or catalogue slots for the industry to bid for. This is a major annual fundraiser for the charity and the BTHA is grateful to all the media partners that support it. To view the slots visit the Toy Trust section of the BTHA website.
At the end of the year the BTHA invites members to send in their logos for inclusion in the trade magazines to thank suppliers. This is a great way to replace all those Christmas cards with one thank you as part of the Toy Industry Christmas Card – a donation to Charity and a sustainable initiative! The cost is a minimum donation of £300 per logo. Contact email@example.com.
Throughout the year there are sporting events held to raise money for the charity from a 5-a-side football match and netball competition to the annual Golf day. To find out more contact Matt Jones.
For more information on the Toy Trust contact Matt Jones or visit the Toy Trust pages of the BTHA website; firstname.lastname@example.org
The BTHA has moved into new Headquarters and we have three meeting room available for our members to use. Please call Tracey Butcher on 020 7701 7271 or email Tracey@btha.co.uk for further information and to make a booking – and to discuss any fees for lunch if required. The facilities themselves are FREE to members, but subject to availability.