The UK’s iconic toy brand Hamleys has set up shop at the tricity’s plushest mall, Elante. In collaboration with Reliance Retail, the showroom offers a deluge of toys, starting from Rs 199 to at least the early thousands.
Young, smartly dressed staffers at the store are seen blowing bubbles in the air and patrolling airplanes as you enter the shopping area. A far cry from my childhood, when we were able to fashion a plaything out of nothing, mostly out of necessity and also because of the time we had, TV being a new-fangled thing then.
Toy business is big today and has been growing at more than 25% a year in India over the past decade. Within pockets of relative prosperity like Punjab, Chandigarh and Haryana, the growth is even higher. There remains untapped potential with only 0.5% of the target population having access to any kind of toy, according to an Assocham report. The per capita consumption of toys in the country is 10% that of the US and 30% of China’s.
The tricity’s turnover, at Rs 100 crore a year, is better than the national average. The business, though, is very nuanced for a retailer. Colour, design, utility and other factors weigh in on the mind of a customer.
In most cases, it is the parents who decide the toy their child will play with, depending on factors like price, ease of play and perceived longevity. Retailers say that in the tricity more than half the toys are bought to gift, and toys that look the snazziest are snapped up faster. “The business banks on perception. Parents want the best for their child, but are hard-pressed for time. So, most of the purchase is on impulse, except when a toy is to be gifted. Margins can be between 25-30%. More than 70% of the toys are China-made, though the figure has fallen recently.
Edutainment toys have gained currency,” says Vikas Khanna, owner of Khanna Toys in Ludhiana, a distributor who supplies to most well-known retailers in tricity like Wunderland, Rama Stores and Budhiraja.
There are two major domestic manufacturing hubs of Rs 8,000-crore business in the country, Delhi-NCR (50%) and Maharashtra’s western industrial belt (35%), while the rest is scattered across the country.
The tricity’s kids are pampered, and there are not enough open spaces. Toy-makers stand to gain because of this.
Most toys are plastic, but with the new concept of gaming coming in, even gizmos like the X-Box and the Playstation are within the reach of children (parents) and can be categorised as toys.
Around 20% of the total annual turnover is accrued from domestic manufacturers as there are few-pan India players. Funskool can be considered a domestic brand due to the shareholding of MRF.
Low-end imports from China have been an issue the industry has been raising for long. Current rules prescribe that toys imported into India come with certificates of quality, but many of the cheap imports are unable to meet that requirement, so there has been some respite on that front.
Board games, educational toys and puzzles can be exported from India as China does not produce these.