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"China will stop being competitive as a global centre of manufacturing in the coming years"

Daniel Rossinés, managing director of Comansi

30/06/2011

Daniel Rossinés is the managing director of Comansi, a Barcelona-based toy maker with over 50 years of history. The company is planning its entry into the international market and is also preparing to launch new products, many of them licensed toys. But the most remembered Comansi toy is the West Fort, flagship of the 70's and 80's and now launched again with a new design.

Comansi just launched again its West Fort, and is not the only company aiming to recover classical toys. Is nostalgia a good selling factor?
The fort is by itself a good product, but we also follow the argument of nostalgia: parents of 35 to 45 are the generation that played in with the Comansi Fort during the 70's and 80's. This nostalgic value is important because they had fun with the toy, and this means that their children can also have fun with it, and above all parents can share playing time with their sons, teaching them how to play and living again those old battles.

Comansi has never stop manufacturing in Spain, although it also produces in China. What are the reasons behind this decision?
The market situation of the licensed product, since much of our production is of this type. First, properties in Spain have a short life cycle, and secondly, there are currently a big number of licenses, so not much of each is sold, while China factories are asking for very high minimum production. At the end, the costs of manufacturing in China, particularly including storage and transportation, make this country not as competitive for us. In Spain we have productions in properties such as Pocoyó or Caillou that allow us to manufacture virtually on demand, so we avoid stock problems and loss of revenue from this side, as well as unnecessary expenditure of funding and treasury. Thus, the business is much more manageable.

Now that costs in China are rising, do you think that more manufacturers will opt to have at least some of their production in other countries?

I think so, honestly. Capitalism at the end is like a plague of locusts: it is always looking for more food. But if China is not as competitive and is no longer the world's factory, it may well be the world’s market. There is a market of more than 1.3 billion people that every day have more access to consumption, given the increase in wages and social improvements.

In any case, it is certain that China will stop being competitive as a global centre of manufacturing in the coming years. What we have yet to see is whether this production will go to Central Africa or other countries of Asia such as Vietnam, Laos or Cambodia. Infrastructure and conditions offered by governments of these countries will be fundamental.

Do you think traditional toys and new technologies can complement each other?
We've done it with Invizimals, which are toys that come from a game for PSP, and the result has been very good. In fact, these new technologies are like reading the paper online: access is easy, but in the end, we like to have something tangible. Children also like something that they can manipulate and exchange.

Does the Spanish toy industry need to increase global presence? What are the objectives of Comansi in this regard?
All companies are trying to do so. In many cases, the starting pistol has been the crisis, which has led companies to seek other markets. Comansi is also preparing to sell its catalogue in the international market. Next year we will be at the Nuremberg toy fair, where we will focus mainly on Europe, although we have already done some operations in the Middle East. South America and North America is a project four or five years away.

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