Gibsons’ Centenary Celebrations: How the Journey Began
Founded in 1919, Gibsons have been entertaining generations for a century and we are proud of our rich, British heritage. Our focus is on providing fun family pastimes for all ages using only the highest quality materials to create our jigsaw puzzles and board games. 2019 is especially important for Gibsons as we reach the milestone of trading as a British, family owned business for 100 years. To mark this momentous occasion, we have taken a look at how the Gibsons journey began and our experiences with the London Toy Fair over the last 65 years.
In 1903 my great grandfather, Harry Percy Gibson, obtained an unsecured loan of £500 from the Royal Bank of Scotland in Bishopsgate, London. This generous sum enabled him to buy a business, which at that time was called ‘The International Card Co.’ Trading from offices in Aldersgate Street, he supplied high street retailers with a range of products including card games and postcards. ‘The International Card Co.’ was sold to the ‘De La Rue Company’ and ‘H. P. Gibson & Sons Limited’ was formed in 1919. H P Gibson & Sons Ltd made its name with the ‘HPG’ brand of indoor games such as L’Attaque and Dover Patrol.
It hasn’t been an easy journey for Gibsons, we have overcome many setbacks which could have destroyed the company. Perhaps the most significant challenge we have faced was during wartime, when employees turned up to work to find the entire building had been demolished in the Blitz. Harry Percy’s son, Harry Aisbitt, salvaged the ledgers and slowly and courageously rebuilt the business. Several years later in the 1990s, Gibsons were distributors of the popular card game Uno, achieving great success in the UK. We lost the rights to it and 25% of the Gibsons business overnight. A lot of hard work, determination and innovation into new areas followed to regain what we had lost.
Since 1919 Gibsons have come a long way. We entered our fourth generation in 2016 when my cousin Nicki and I stepped up to become Gibsons’ Sales Director and Managing Director. Before this my father, Michael Gibson, who has worked at the company for over 50 years, bought Gibsons into a new era in the 80s when he introduced the first jigsaw puzzle range. It’s now been over 30 years since these first jigsaws were introduced and we haven’t looked back. In fact, Gibsons were the UK’s No.1 performing puzzle manufacturer for adults every month from January to November in 2018, based on velocity sales (The NPD Group UK – Retail Tracking Data). Our vast range now holds over 400 products including jigsaw puzzles in 6 different piece counts, branded gifts, family games and playing cards.
Gibsons have attended Toy Fair almost every year since it began in 1954. Travelling down to Brighton to attend the show is something their Chairman, Michael, has many happy memories of. We feel a sense of pride when exhibiting in London, especially as we were once based in the West End’s Barrett Street, just a stone’s throw away from London Olympia.
Toy Fair is one of our favourite events of the year and there is such a great buzz when the whole industry gets together. We get very excited about showcasing our new products, but we also find it gets the brain cells ticking about what should come next! This Toy Fair will feel particularly celebratory and we can’t wait to raise a glass or two to mark our centenary.
We look forward to attending the London Toy Fair in 2019 to celebrate their centenary with customers old and new, whilst continuing to build relationships for the future 100 years.