Obituary: Dennis Watts

Malcom Naish and John Nicholas reflect on a toy trade legend

Written by Mark Naish

Posted 08.01.2021 | Retail

Obituary: Dennis Watts thumbnail

After battling prostate cancer for the last three years, Dennis Watts passed away on the 24th December. Dennis took over his father’s toy shop in Melton Mowbray in 1974 and added a second store in 1978 trading as Arbon & Watts. They regularly won the award for ‘Toyshop of the Year’ for the Midlands region and in the mid- nineties created their Mail Order Express catalogue online, that led to a massive expansion of the company. Dennis and Judy were much respected in the industry and were sorely missed when Dennis decided to retire in 2005.

Their on line catalogue was well ahead of the growth in on-line shopping and it was sad when the company closed down.
My very good friend John Nicholas adds his own thoughts.

I first called on Dennis when he took over the business from his father in the 1970’s. When I became an agent in 1984 he soon became one of my best customers as he developed and built up his Mail Order Express side of his business. Despite the success of that he still remained an excellent high street retailer and my orders increased even more when he took over Alan Arbon’s business in Grantham. I remember several promotional days in his stores with visits from the Get a Long gang, Sylvanian character visits and Large K’Nex displays in store where customers had to guess how many pieces made up a display.

I am not sure how many times he won independent retailer of the year, it was certainly more than once and it was well deserved.
I thank him most sincerely for nominating me for a Golden Teddy award, being seconded by Peter Brown, my Teddy still has pride of place in my dining room.

I will remember him for being a very good business man not frightened to take a chance on a line he thought had good potential, and as an agent calling on Dennis it meant I was going to have a good day, and I have many happy memories of social occasions outside work.

My sympathies go to Judy, Paul and Clive , be proud of Dennis he was a good man and I am proud to call him my friend.

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