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Richard Cerdá (JC Toys): "We do not just use the same doll made thirty years ago"

Richard Cerdá, Vice President, JC Toys


Richard Cerdá is Vice President of JC Toys, a company specializing in dolls, with offices in Castalla (Alicante), Miami and Hong Kong. Although the company owns its factory in China, it also produces its high-end Boutique line in Spain, the country of origin of this toy company that focuses on quality products.

JC Toys is a company with a significant presence outside Spain: when this internationalization process started? What were the goals?
Since its establishment in 1993, JC Toys has been an international company. When it was founded, it had its sales headquarters in the U.S., with design and manufacturing facilities in Spain, and an office in Hong Kong. Each office had its focus: the U.S. worked in the marketing and sales worldwide; Spain, in design and sales in Europe, and Hong Kong was initially focused on the logistics of all factories.

Today, this situation has changed a bit: China has become stronger in regard to sales, so the Hong Kong office has also become a sales office. This has given us balance and the ability to adapt quickly to each market.

The company manufactures both in China and in Spain. Which are the criteria used to decide on manufacturing in one country or the other?
The Boutique line is manufactured 100% in our Spanish plant. This is a high-end brand, directed to a customer not as conditioned by the price. These are consumers who prefer something other than what can be found in mass retailers.

We have always maintained this manufacture structure in Spain for two reasons: first because sales are good, but second and even if they weren’t, because it is essential for us to maintain our roots.

Manufacturing in China is determined by the fact that the market asks us a certain price for other product lines. Still, the design is Spanish. And also the factory is already ours, so we can produce with even more quality.

This means that we maintain total control over the doll: design, materials, production, and sales. It is very important to maintain this total control of the entire process when making a high quality product.

Is quality a differentiation priority for JC Toys?
Both product quality and design. When we design a realistic doll, it is very important that it actually has a realistic effect, and that's thanks to the genius of our designer, Salvador Berenguer. If the design is not perfect, it shows immediately. That is, we focus on quality throughout all the process: from the design to delivering the product to the customer.

What are the most important markets for the company?
There are two levels of importance. Sales are very important and the U.S. has a lot of weight. Within Europe, we should mention the UK and Germany. Also Russia, Australia and Latin America... The truth is that we are well placed in almost every continent and we are doing well in all regions in relation to population.

It is also important for us to learn from each market. Being small and agile, the company can listen to all customers. And there are markets that are more "doll-oriented" than others, as is the case of Spain, and you can learn a lot from these countries. The opinions of customers and consumers allow us to tailor our designs and develop new products. We do not just use the same doll made thirty years ago and dress it of a different color. We adapt, we change and we always improve. And there are markets such as Spain and also, for example, Australia, which help us in this regard.

What are the main trends in the dolls category?

Right now, newborn dolls are working very well for us and this is very important because our newborn design is one of the best in the world. In the rest of the market, popular products with presence in TV show a fantasy design, starting years ago with Bratz and now with Monster High, and are away from what is a realistic and traditional doll. In our case, newborn dolls are having good results because the customer is looking for this traditional toy in almost all markets.

What do you think about not imposing gender roles to children? Can boys and girls play with dolls?

Absolutely. Children are children and they like to play with what they like to play. For example, I have three kids and the first one is sixteen months older than the second one. When his brother was born, doctors and nurses advised us to prepare him for the arrival of his brother by using a doll. The funny thing is that, even though I work on a doll company, I had not thought of this possibility. I brought the doll home and the response was amazing. It was very natural for him, which shows that children should play with whatever they want and we should not be prejudiced. This is what toys are for.

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