Udayavni Special

Funskool seriously looking to develop India’s traditional games: CEO

PTI, Sep 14, 2020, 1:38 PM IST

Chennai: Toy major Funskool India Limited is seriously looking at developing the country’s traditional games as part of strengthening its operations in the country, a top company official has said.

The company was also looking at ‘substantially’ expanding its distribution network in rural areas, Funskool India chief executive officer, R Jeswant said.

“We intend to widen our domestic offerings and will target to introduce well over 100 products over the next one year. We expect several policy initiatives promoting local manufacturing to come from the government in the next few months,” he said.

On future plans, he said, “we are also seriously looking at developing some of India’s traditional games and have plans to work closely with manufacturers of traditional Indian toys and artisans.”

The initiative would also help artisans to improve the quality of their products and also help scale up in manufacturing, he added.

On the impact of COVID-19 pandemic in its operations, he said April and May were very big months for toy business (in terms of sales) but both months ended in a ‘total washout.’

“All our three factories were closed for almost all of April and all stores remained closed”, he said.

With domestic demand picking up, he said, “we are back on track.”

On those measures taken by the company to tide over the impact caused by the pandemic, he said, Funskool focused on exports business and the company grew in shipping its products between April and August.

“This helped in absorbing the fall in demand on the domestic front. July and August have been exceptional for exports. With demand picking up in domestic sales, particularly in e-commerce, we are well on the way to recovery,” he said.

On the Prime Minister’s recent comments on the toy industry during his ‘Mann ki Baat,’ Jeswant said, the toy industry was huge globally at USD 90 billion but the Indian market was meagre 0.5 per cent.

“Clearly the market is evolving and we really needed the attention which our PM’s comments brought to the industry,” he said.

To a query, he said following the spurt in demand in domestic business the company was ‘scaling up’ production at all its facilities.

“As of now, we have enough capacities to meet the demand. But with increasing exports and with domestic demand expanding to fill the gaps we may soon see the need to put up an additional factory,” he said.

The company has two facilities in Tamil Nadu and one in Goa.

On plans to boost sales, he said, exports of the company’s brands were growing ‘significantly.’

“We export our own brands currently to the Middle East, Africa and several Asian countries. We have been able to make inroads into Europe and the USA as well. We are steadily expanding our presence,” he said.

Noting that the biggest challenge in developing new products was ‘high tooling costs’ and amortizing the tooling costs over small volumes, he said it could change as manufacturing activities picks up and one can expect to see a lot of innovation in design and development of toys emerging out of the country.

On plans in the domestic market, he said, in many smaller towns availability of quality toys itself was a problem and Funskool has plans “to substantially expand the distribution network.”

“We will focus on design and development and expand our product range to ensure that novelty and freshness is maintained…it will be our endeavour to price products within the affordable range for the majority of customers,” he said.

While stating that the company would expand presence overseas, Jeswant said, catering to the ‘sourcing’ needs of more toy companies will continue to be an integral part of the business.

“Our outlook for the future is very positive and we believe that the toy industry in India has a lot of potential to develop into a hub for sourcing…,” he said.

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