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UK's toy makers courting Chinese families

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UK's toy makers courting Chinese families
Issue Time:2017-01-11

With Chinese families now better off financially and no longer bound by family planning rules that limited them to a single child, the demand for toys is booming, and UK toy makers hope to cash in.

UK-based toy expert John Baulch told China Daily from Hong Kong, where he is attending Asia's largest toys and games fair, that this could be a golden time.

"UK toy companies are trying to open up the Asian market, particularly China because it is a rapidly growing market," he said.

The focus at this year's fair is the growing sector of high tech products.

"A lot of toys aren't made in Britain anymore. The reality is; competing with China in terms of raw materials and labor costs is always a very difficult thing to do. But we do have some very good brands making headway in the Chinese market."

Christmas may have only just ended but manufacturers are already looking for next year's big seller.

Products such as STEM toys-that strengthen understanding of science, technology, engineering and mathematics-are predicted to be hot. Some exhibitors are also showing of their latest virtual reality and augmented reality products at the fair.

Peter Jenkinson, a self-described 'toyologist' from UK company Playtime PR, told China Daily: "Usually, one country will start of a trend and others will follow but with VR, markets in China, the US and UK all jumped on the phenomenon at once."

But Baulch said UK consumers will have to dig deep for the latest must-haves.

"2017 will be a very interesting and challenging year because, as a result of Brexit, the pound is very weak against the US dollar. Most toys are produced in China and the currency there is pegged to the US dollar, so toys coming into the UK this year will cost a lot more than last because of the fluctuation in currency."

He said the UK toy industry is looking to mitigate such challenges.

"China's middle class is growing, people are earning more," Baulch said, "It's not just about Beijing and Shanghai anymore. The potential in China is huge."

He said the Chinese consumer's taste for big brands is important.

"It makes sense for a good British brand to look into China's growing market and, if you have the right brand, it is the perfect opportunity. British companies are coming out to Hong Kong to look at what China, Asia and the rest of the world are producing because most of the toys sold globally are actually made in China," Baulch said.

According to the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, around 80 percent of toys worldwide are made in China.

The 43rd Toys and Games Fair runs from Monday and continues to Jan 12 at Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center.

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