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"Children's preferences are increasingly similar in all Europe"

Juan Arrizabalaga, General Director of Toys 'R' Us Iberia

06/10/2011

Toys 'R' Us has been present in Spain for 20 years, this anniversary coinciding with the launching of its online store for this country. The company has another 46 brick and mortar shops in the territory that have taken the company to be leader in toy sales in Spain, as Juan Arrizabalaga, CEO of Toys 'R' Us Iberia, explains.

This year Toys ‘R’ Us celebrated its 20th anniversary in Spain, why did the company decide to open its first store in Sant Quirze del Vallés (Barcelona)?

Barcelona was among the strategic objectives of Toys 'R' US for its implementation in Spain. Specifically, our company was then working on ten projects, including Sant Quirze del Vallés. This was the one that moved faster, so we were able to open the store on October 13, 1991.

In these 20 years, the trajectory of the company has been very good. We have created a network of 46 stores covering nearly all the Spanish geography. We have achieved a growing acceptance and become leaders of the toy market. Also this year, coinciding with our 20th anniversary, we launched a major project, our online store for Spain.

Are there differences in toy sales in Spain and other European countries?

Children's preferences are increasingly similar in all Europe. There is a trend of integration. However, there are slight differences. German children are more likely to play with construction sets, and in the Nordic countries children like wooden toys, for example. But overall, we all move along similar patterns.

Given the current economic situation, has the company reorganized the business to adapt to changing consumer needs?

We constantly update our offer, not only for the Christmas season, but at any moment the situation requires it, usually because new products are launched. Not surprisingly, we are the largest distributor of toys in the world. Throughout the year we have more than 16,000 items available in our stores t. The toy is the heart of our business. We also have a very important line, Babies 'R' Us, dedicated to babies and maternity, with over 5,000 articles.

What is your opinion on the situation of the toy industry?

In Spain, the total market toy business is one of €1,3 billion. Toys 'R' Us is leader, with a market share of 20%. The toy industry is being influenced by the constraints imposed by the current economic situation, and in the case of child care there is also the decline in birth rate to consider. Evolution tends to an increasing concentration of economic agents.

Looking ahead, the concentration will be a fact, and local providers need to be increasingly focused on Europe, and less in their local market.

What could be the major trends in the toy sector, both in the domestic and global market?

Concentration is a fact: national barriers are being broken, a trend that will also be boosted by e-commerce. This means that competitors and suppliers will be present at new markets where they were not present before.

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