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José de la Gándara: "Toys are still seen as a gift for Christmas and birthdays, and families do not take into account their importance for the development of children"

José de la Gándara, CEO, Famosa


José de la Gándara, CEO, Famosa

The toy maker will launch in 2014 its new action figures collection, Mutant Busters

José de la Gándara, CEO at Famosa, showed us the new developments of the company during the Nuremberg Toy Fair, Spielwarenmesse, for a 2014 in which the firm expects to continue its growth.

"It's been a difficult year in which everything has been delayed. The Spanish market ended finally flat –he explains-, but I expected more, both for the market and for Famosa. The company has grown 2%, and we led the industry in sales during the holiday season, becoming the second toy maker in the whole year in Spain, where our market share has increased from 10.3% to 10.5%.”

In addition, the season has been marked by the concentration of sales, that led, for example and according to NPD data, to a last week accumulating 13.3% of the whole year’s revenue. " Seasonality does not only hurt retailers, but also manufacturers -says De la Gándara-. C onsumers are delaying purchases, waiting for deals , and until sales are done, retailers do not place orders. This means that we do not even have time to replenish products. Before, consumers were more segmented - there were those who bought at the last minute, but also those who planned their shopping. This concentration of sales was generated by some retail practices that are now difficult to leave behind".

Fighting seasonality is very complex also because “these habits are very cultural. Toys are still seen as a gift for Christmas and birthdays, and families do not take into account their importance for the development of children.”

An increasingly global presence
Famosa’s growth has been driven largely thanks to the company's business in international markets: "Our overall position is good, as we are experiencing significant growth in France, Italy, the UK and the rest of Europe, in spite of the problems in Mexico due to an unexpected drop in the market after two years of growth. Anyway, this country will recover."

The big bet is still the US, where the firm is "still growing, although not at the pace we expected, so we decided to change our strategy and focus on the long term, as well as reducing our investment in advertising. The U.S. market needs to see us as a long distance runner”.

Technology and ethics
As for the leading market trends, De la Gándara recalls that "this is a very traditional industry, for better and for worse", so it is increasingly important in all senses that the toy industry is finally paying attention to new technologies.

Another important trend are “ socially responsible toys - ethically produced, respecting the environment, and transmitting positive values." It is not just a sales pitch, as it is “necessary that consumers trust toy companies. They do not have too much information, but they are certainly interested. Consumers trust brands and if this trust is broken everything else will fall appart.”

The importance of brands
The company offers an extensive catalogue which highlights its own brands, a key strategy because these properties "offer less risk and allow greater control - if we work with licenses, we end up relying on third parties. Throughout 2013, our licensed portfolio was between 20% and 25% of our catalogue, especially for plush toys and our Feber line."

Famosa's brands include Nancy, Nenuco, that has garnered very positive results, especially in its large playsets for the holiday season. This success has allowed the company to launch a line of preschool toys under the Nenuco Baby brand. Pinypon also continues to gain market share and already became leader in its category in 2012.

But the big news for 2014 is the entry of the toy company in the action figures segment with Mutant Busters, "a major decision for the firm, as our portfolio is very focused on girls. This is an internal development, which has no TV series, but counts with significant support via web, video games, apps, and trading cards. It is a new, fresh, interesting idea that we have been developing for many years and for which we will launch 32 figures in summer, with different vehicles and playsets for Christmas."

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