Evolving toy industry rolls new stores as part of their expansion plan
The Indian Toy Industry is continually attracting retailers to explore this potential retail business. Early Learning Centre (ELC), Britain's leading children's toy retailer which recently announced the launch of its three stores at Ambience Mall, Gurgaon, Delhi International Airport – Terminal 3 and the Domestic Airport unfold their big plans for this potential market.
Franchise India Media, interacted with Sandeep Chadha, Brand Head, ELC to understand how they plan to explore opportunities and challenges that lie ahead in the Toy Industry.
Vrinda Oberai (VO): Please elaborate on the name of your brand – Early Learning Centre (ELC). What is your target audience?
Sandeep Chadha (SC): ELC is Britain's leading retailer of children's toys. Being the specialist in the play industry, ELC is continually delivering new and innovative toys to the market with quality and design at the forefront of all products. ELC offers something for children from birth to eight years and caters to all budgets. All ELC toys meet British and European standards for toy safety. The Centre is also associated with the Royal Society for the prevention of accidents.
VO: Since how long and at what locations is ELC operating abroad and is this (the recent three store launches) your first venture in India?
SC: ELC is operational for over 25 years in the toy and play industry. ELC currently has over 400+ international stores in more than 35 countries across the world. Prior to the recent launches at T3, Kolkata, Amritsar and Bangalore, we had three stores in Delhi and NCR.
VO: How do you perceive the Indian toy market and why this decision to enter India? What channel have you explored to enter the India market?
SC: The Indian Toy market is ever evolving. The retailers are looking at tapping the target audience with the best possible offerings for children. India on 23rd January, 2009 banned imports of Chinese-made toys for six months, saying they were a hazard to public health. This is definitely a step towards creating awareness and the need for safe toxic free toys for kids. Moreover, educational and developmental toys are yet to be exploited and there is growing demand for plush soft toys, remote-controlled models, action figures and dolls. ELC, in the first two years of operation, will focus on building stand alone stores in Metros and Tier II cities. We are also exploring opportunities for making the products available at various department stores across India and also, key retail stores.
VO: Could you please share some facts and figures about both – the Toy Industry in India?
SC: The toy industry in India is hardly visible but offers a huge opportunity. It is a 2000 crore market, which is growing at the rate of 20 per cent annually. The toy industry in India offers about 5,000 different designs and about 50 new designs are introduced every month to meet consumers' taste.
VO: What remains to be ELC’s USP?
SC: ELC toys are of top quality, safe and at the same time provide lot of fun to the children. Toys at ELC are designed with care to bring out the very best of creativity and inspiration in children and are developed with experts, child psychologists and children themselves. Toys are designed to help children to grow into happy, self-confident people.
VO: How is your marketing strategy different for your stores abroad and in India? How have you planned to tap the Indian audience?
SC: The key focus will be to reach the consumers through our stand alone stores and educate the parents and the kids via the various workshops that we organise in our stores and shopping malls where we are present. You can also find a lot of advice leaflets in our stores which we use to educate the parents and which talk about our specialisation.
VO: What are ELC’s expansion plans for India two years down the line?
SC: With recent stores launches, we have increased our store count to eight in India. We are now present across Delhi, NCR, Amritsar, Bangalore and Kolkata. We are further looking at strengthening our presence in the Indian market and plan to expand our footprint to cities like Mumbai, Pune, Chennai and Aurangabad.
VO: What is the price range for the product range that ELC offers? Is it any different for India and abroad? If yes, why?
SC: We retail toys ranging from Rs 99 to Rs 14999 across various categories and we are cheaper than our international pricing.
VO: ELC offers ‘interactive’ toys. Could you please elaborate on the same? How will ELC contribute to the learning process of the Indian kids and to the education system here?
SC: With time, toys have evolved from being just mere playing tools, today there is demand for toys that develop vital skills to help in a child’s growth. Considering the new mantra, we at ELC bring to a child, toys which are fun and offer learning experience too. ELC stores are divided into various sections such as art & creativity, baby & toddler, making music, dressing up, sport & outdoor, let’s pretend, action & adventure, and puzzles and games. The toys in all the sections are designed to help children explore the boundaries of their imagination and creativity, to make learning fun and help children be all they can be.