Despite the distance, iCandy Australia is a key and integral member of the iCandy family. Invaluable advocates of the brand down under, they proudly showcase iCandy not only through their carefully curated network of iCandy stockists throughout Australia, but also through three of their own world-exclusive iCandy concept stores in Melbourne and Brisbane. It was a real pleasure to have Toby Simmons visit iCandy UK from the other side of the world!
We caught up with Toby to find out all about their stores and learn his industry insights…
Toby from iCandy Australia
Tell us about iCandy Australia – when did you first launch, and what inspired you to do so?
Having distributed pushchairs in Australia throughout the 00s, we were keen to discover the next evolution in our space. Single-to-double prams were starting to appear in the market but were yet to be finessed by any brand and that is when we came across iCandy. Already making waves in Europe, the brand was yet to reach Australia and in 2009 we launched iCandy Australia. We have not looked back since!
Since launching iCandy Australia, how has it grown and developed?
From an unheard-of brand, iCandy is now a household brand in parenting circles across Australia. It is recognised as the premium pushchair of choice, especially for parents who desire robust, quality and sustainable products that can evolve and meet the challenges of a growing family.
Tell us about your business set-up?
Our business was started by Bill Hutchinson and myself. We trade under the name Tobil & Co, a combination of our names and a reference to the team. The iCandy Australia HQ is in Melbourne, Victoria with other sites in New South Wales and Queensland.
How about your staff?
We are very fortunate to have a passionate and hardworking team that live and breathe the iCandy brand. Many have used various iCandy products over the years for their children, appreciating the uniqueness of what iCandy provides growing families around the world, and know the products inside out.
What has been your biggest challenge to date?
Our biggest challenge to date was navigating through the pandemic. Every norm was thrown out the window. From aggressive lockdowns; maintaining team cohesion/wellbeing; shipping and freight challenges, every aspect of our business was turned upside down.
What is your bestselling iCandy product?
The iconic iCandy Peach pushchair is our best-selling product. Now in its 7th generation, it has stood the test of time. There are very few products that are still in the market 10+ years on and it shows not only how good the product is but how it has continually evolved to stay at the top of its category in the marketplace.
The industry is very competitive – how do you stay one step ahead?
We are extremely fortunate that the iCandy brand chooses to continually innovate. When I look at what we have offered parents over the last 10 years it is pleasing to reflect on the wide variety of products we have brought to market, the new features introduced to each category and the benefits these offer parents. Our challenge is to find fresh and exciting ways to introduce these to new parents. From exhibition shows to iCandy concept stores, signage to point of sale displays, we continue to challenge ourselves in how best to convey the iCandy story.
How do you drive traffic and awareness to your store and website?
We drive traffic and awareness through a variety of advertising channels, social media content and national exhibitions, whilst looking to introduce the brand to new and expecting parents. We are fortunate that iCandy’s legacy is products that consistently perform at the very top of the market. As a result, current parents become our biggest advocates and greatest asset.
How does the Australian market differ to the UK?
Having lived in Australia for over 20 years it becomes harder to put my finger on this one! We have a very outdoor and active lifestyle, whether that be walking, running or visiting the beach. Parents do not give this up lightly and expect to be out and about with their children too. A varied terrain, sunshine and travel probably all come to mind as the primary demands that parents make of pushchairs in Australia.
What do you think has been the biggest influence on parents when it comes to their pushchair purchasing decisions in the current climate?
Longevity and sustainability which makes an iCandy purchase an investment piece. Parents do not wish to buy another product as their needs and family evolve. They want to make one considered purchase and enjoy using it into the future.
What is your pushchair trend forecast for the next year in terms of design features and functionality?
Simplicity of use remains the holy grail and to have a feature laden product that is effortless to use, continues to challenge designers the world over.
Fabrication in our industry is probably what is evolving the most at present. Softer touch points, ecologically sound materials, breathability and on trend colours and patterns, all come to mind. Never before seen materials are appearing on pushchairs and I think that is exciting for our industry.