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Booming retail sector: Toys industry sees ripple effect

Sravanthi Challapalli

The growth in the industry can be attributed to the increasing visibility for toys at retail outlets.

Chennai , Dec. 5

Toy makers hope there is some bounty for them with the growth of the retail sector and the pace at which it is seeing the entry of big business groups and foreign collaborations.

Speaking to Business Line, Mr R. Jeswant, General Manager (Sales & Marketing), Funskool, said, "It (the prospects) can only get better." So far, the boom in the economy has only resulted in growth for "priority" sectors such as automobile, real estate and consumer durables. It usually happens that sectors such as toys come into focus next, and hence the optimism, he added.

Funskool has seen growth of 45 per cent from 2004-05 to 2005-06. Beyblade toys, based on the eponymous TV series, were responsible for this to a certain extent but the growth will continue even as attention shifts to other brands, Mr Jeswant said. Toys and games based on Transformers the Movie, based on comic and cartoon series Transformers, are expected to be the new rage. Funskool is launching various superhero figures, puzzles and games based on the characters.

The growth in the industry can be attributed to the increasing visibility for toys at retail outlets, especially large-format ones which can afford to display the games. Customers are also willing to spend more on games and toys. A board game such as Taboo, which costs Rs 749, is selling well. So much so that Funskool recently introduced a `Vintage' collection of board games including Monopoly, Risk, Sorry, Yahtzee, Stratego and Clue for Rs 1,299, said Mr David Daniel Selvaraj, Marketing Manager. An interesting trend is the good demand for games for adults.Around three months ago, Funskool started marketing figures based on actors Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, Hrithik Roshan and Priyanka Chopra. Sales are picking up now. Each figure is priced at Rs 999. Funskool will soon begin marketing Spiderman figures and other products as well. From January, Hasbro, one of the joint venture partners in Funskool, has the rights for all Marvel comic characters of which Spiderman is the main one.

Advertising strategy

The company has also started targeting mothers in its TV advertising, which was so far restricted to children's channels, Mr Jeswant said. It has made a beginning with Zee TV during soap opera and movie time slots. It has also begun advertising in print.

Funskool's turnover stood at Rs 40 crore the previous financial year. It foresees a growth of 40 per cent this year. The organised sector accounts for just 25 per cent of the toys industry, whose size, based on sales from 4,500 retail outlets across the country, is estimated at Rs 600 crore.

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