Rex London celebrates its 40th anniversary this month. With humble beginnings on a market stall in Portobello Road in 1981, the giftware company has since become an international wholesaler offering a range of more than 1,000 products to retailers worldwide. Exports have trebled in the last 10 years, and Rex London can now be found in over 60 countries worldwide.
Rex London bills itself as a ‘champion of screen-free toys, games and puzzles in today’s technology age, with a huge focus on undigital gifts to keep kids entertained and off their devices’.
In 2019, Rex London has received the Queen’s Award for International Trade, following six years of continuous growth in overseas sales.
In early 2021, Rex London launched an EU hub in Belgium – its European subsidiary Rex London BV – to better serve their customers in Europe in response to Brexit, with no tariffs, no import VAT and no customs fees for their EU customers.
Reflecting over the past two decades, Rex London CEO Nigel Biggs said: “When I first started I was one of 10 employees, and now there are about 70. Our biggest change, however, has been in the type of product we sell. Thirty years ago it was a case of turning up at the old Canton Fair and buying whatever took our fancy. Over the course of time, with the advent of supermarkets buying directly from China, the rise of national discounters, and then of course with the internet and particularly Amazon, this has meant we have had to change our buying model. We are now completely customer-focused in what we buy, with everything conceived, designed and sourced from our London headquarters.
“As we start to emerge from lockdown (in the UK) we are now having to deal with massively increased shipping costs, with container costs currently being nearly ten times that of a year ago. As a result of this, plus the constant price rises from manufacturers, a major increase in the rate of inflation is looming large. Everything else over the years we have taken in our stride. Most of our products have a retail selling price of less than £10, so we have been relatively cosseted during times of recession.
Looking ahead, he said: “I know that we will continue to innovate and bring fantastic products to market, whatever form that may take in the future. I’m confident that we will see off the twin threats of Brexit and Covid, showing resilience and going from strength to strength.
“Going forward, our greatest focus will remain in Europe. Fortunately, having Rex London enables us to distribute quickly, efficiently and cost effectively to the rest of Europe.”