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MRF's toy brand opens first store in TN

Company plans to open 20 more stores with focus on tier II towns

T E Narasimhan  |  Chennai 

Funskool, one of the leading toy manufacturing company and promoted by the tyre major group, opened its first toy store in India. The new store was set up at Coimbatore and company plans to start another 20 stores, focussing tier-II towns.

The first store, spread over in 1500 sq.ft was inaugurated at Coimbatore and this will be a test store for the company. Based on the success of this store, 20 more will be opened in another 2-3 years, said John Baby, chief executive officer, India Ltd

R Jeswant, vice president - sales and marketing, India added, tier II towns and beyond will be the focus for the new stores and the company decided to go on the franchisee model.

The company has identified Indore, Bhopal, Baroda, Surat, Kochi and others has potential destinations for future expansion.

These stores will feature company's complete range of products manufactured and distributed. Funskool's own brands like "Giggles", the infants and preschool range, "Handy Crafts", its newly launched arts & crafts range and "Play & Learn" range of puzzles as well as the complete range of products from their International partners like LEGO, Hasbro, Tomy Takara, Ravensburger, Rubik's, Hornby, Siku etc..

In addition, Disney board games, Warner Brothers and Nickelodean board games and puzzles etc, for which the company has the license in India, will also, be available in the store, said the company.

Baby said that company's endeavor is to take the complete range of products beyond the metro cities.

"This store gives us an opportunity to increase our brand presence and to reach out to a wider target audience. We hope to tap on the market potential to give our consumers a wide option of safe and quality toys, " he said.

Jeswant added one of the major challenge in the tier II areas are lack of space for toys. There are no standalone stores or a huge supermarket, where the toys can be accommodated.

In 1987, the company, along with Inc a global leader in children's and family leisure time products, started a new joint venture called India Ltd, in which holds 60 per cent stake.

The company was manufacturing and distributing toys for some of the leading global toy brands.

Funskool's commercial operations began with setting up of a factory at Goa to manufacture high quality toys and as the demand increased both in domestic and global markets, the company had set up its factory at Ranipet, about 100 kms from Chennai.

These facilities caters to global brands including Hasbro, Danish-brand Lego, Japanese brand Tomy Takara, German brand Raven-zhurger. It also got licence arrangements with Walt Disney, Warner Bros and Nickelodeon. About two years back Funskool also launched its own brand called Giggles and another brand Handy Crafts last month.

Funskool is likely to end this year with a turn over of around Rs 125 crore, an increase of around 20 per cent compared to last year. At present Lego alone contributes around 15% of the company's turnover.

Indian toy industry is just 0.5% of the World's toy market. While the developed markets have reported around one per cent growth CAGR, the Indian toy industry grew in double digit. The retail value of the industry is estimated to be around Rs 2500-3000 crore.

Over the next 10 years, the company estimate is that the segment which the company operates would grow by around 12-15 per cent. "We don't see any reason why we will not grow two times more than industry," said Jeswant, who noted in the last five years the company grew by around 25%.

First Published: Wed, March 19 2014. 18:32 IST