In a market dominated by worldwide franchises and unlawful knock-offs, the Greek toy manufacturing business has stood its floor and continued its long-standing flourishment, offering constant high quality and inventive originality to thousands and thousands of shoppers in Greece and overseas.
Robust over time, but nonetheless under-estimated for its potential and sometimes under-reported, this area of interest sector of the Greek financial system at the moment counts over 100 companies lively within the manufacturing of toys and video games, child items and seasonal gadgets. Most are small and medium-sized enterprises, with a workers of between 5 and 50.
Officially represented by the Hellenic Association of Toy and Carriage Manufacturers (SEVPA) since 1949, business entrepreneurs had an estimated annual turnover of between 200-250 million euro pre-pandemic.
“Since our launch, some 70 years ago, our members have included acclaimed businesses which produced traditional toys such as dolls, music boxes, tin soldiers, Karagiozis figures, other wooden or tin toys, and more”, says Ioannis Papadopoulos, President of the Association.
He recollects breakthrough Greek toy manufacturers Lyra, El Greco and Kehayias participating within the first Greek toy makers’ gala’s at Zappeion in Athens -once visited by the then-Princess Anna Maria of Denmark, shortly earlier than her marriage to King Constantine of Greece.
“A lot has changed in time. Games and playthings became toys, and puppets became dolls. They were developed, enriched with new materials, produced in accordance with specific safety regulations, all the while children became more demanding and parents more informed”, he provides with a smile.
Economy and societal change
Looking again in time, Ioannis Papadopoulos displays that in post-World War II Greece, kids had an abundance of bodily areas obtainable for play, reminiscent of open fields and gardens.
“They also had free time to play with their friends outside the house. Back then, anyway, their toys were few and expensive. Families gifted toys to their children only for Christmas and Easter, birthdays and names days. So, demand for toys and games was low”, he says.
The toy business began to develop within the Nineteen Fifties, when many craft items, primarily family-operated, but additionally a number of massive factories, launched into enterprise.
“Pioneering toymakers El Greco and Lyra were gigantic by that era’s standards, employing hundreds of staff. With steady development in the 1960s and the greatest boom in the 1970s, kids’ toys made a dynamic entrance in Greek households. Demand rose, family revenue increased, and, most importantly, there were no imports, due to controls in foreign currency exchange”, he notes.
But the image was set to vary once more within the mid-Nineteen Eighties, when imports of toys skyrocketed, significantly from Japan.
“Then, the early 1990s signaled the mass import of toys from abroad -not only in Greece, but in the entire European market, which was stormed by cheap Chinese toys. The result was many craft units to close, or to transform from producers to importers”, Papadopoulos concludes.
Nonetheless, the Greek toys business has managed to rise once more, stand out, and even declare its spot on the worldwide market.
According to Ioannis Papadopoulos, Greek toys are distinguished by their top quality. That means they’re protected, abiding to European requirements, licensed, and made of fantastic supplies. They will not be solely designed with Greek philosophy and tradition in thoughts, but additionally protect childhood innocence, thus defending the psychological well being of the kids. He believes that every one the above affect the patron positively in putting Greek toys excessive of their listing of choice.
At current, the toys manufacturing business and its respective market in Greece seem steady, with a minor development forecast. The President of SEVPA asserts that difficult elements like the tough financial situations, the numerous drop within the numbers of youngsters inhabitants, the low obtainable earnings of customers and the excessive seasonality of toys, which sees demand improve solely throughout the festive seasons, do affect the course of the sector. There are not any main differentiations in sight for the long run, nevertheless.
“The points that we have now come up towards in recent times are primarily monetary. A significant concern is the unlawful commerce of low-cost knockoffs, most of that are made in China. These have brought about nice hassle all throughout Europe as a result of their low worth, and low high quality.
“Another substantial problem for our industry is the lack of state support for business extroversy. There are no funds available. The businesses themselves are burdened by immense costs in order to promote their products at trade fairs abroad, open the way to new business opportunities and increase their sales and profits”, he factors out.
Funding for exports improvement
During the final three a long time, the business has developed its exports considerably. About 20 Greek toy manufacturing companies are offered on the International Toys Fair in Nurnmberg, Germany, annually.
“Greek toys have become competitive and can be found on the shelves of European toys’ stores, and not only. Some of these businesses have a bold and successful exports activity and have made their presence very noticeable on the international market. Their top-quality merchandise has established them among the world’s best in their niche. These are pioneering businesses, with high export targets, whose products make us proud”, Papadopoulos affirms.
However, the entire lack of state help is a limiting issue to the sector’s potential.
“There is neither strategic planning nor research for target-markets nor financial aid for exports promotion. There is no support of any sort for participation in trade fairs or business meetings for our members, which would allow more of them to develop an exports profile”, he explains.
“Of course, Greek businesses never cease to try and develop their dynamics by either exporting or signing collaborations and coproduction agreements with big foreign brands for products destined to be marketed worldwide”.
With view to the way forward for Greek toy producers, Ioannis Papadopoulos needs for a steady tax framework and liquidity assist by the state within the type of what he calls courageous measures, particularly whereas toy shops stay closed throughout the pandemic-hit festive season 2020. “These could help the Greek toys industry to see the future with optimism”, he hopes.
To discover out extra, go to www.toysingreece.gr