Nuremberg The children are saved last. The toy industry has been encouraging itself with this saying for decades. But by 2022, parents and grandparents had apparently exhausted all other savings potential. Now it hit the little ones too: the toy market in Germany shrank by five percent last year.
The boom triggered by Corona comes to an abrupt end: in 2021, sales had climbed by four percent, and in 2020 by as much as nine percent.
Ravensburger was still unable to keep up with the orders in the 2021 Christmas business and had to allocate the games to the desperate business owners. At that time, the shelves were partly empty, after the Christmas trade in 2022 the warehouse will overflow.
Gone are the days when people sat at home in isolation, doing jigsaw puzzles and ordering new toys for the children. “Consumers are doing something different again,” states CEO and shareholder Clemens Maier soberly.
Märklin sneaks over the tracks
Ravensburger is not the only toy company that missed the goals it had set itself last year. The turnover of the Fürth medium-sized company Simba-Dickie also fell by seven percent to around 700 million euros in 2022. CFO Manfred Duschl even rates this positively, due to the difficult environment he had recently expected even less.
>> Read here: The Ravensburger formula: luck in the game, consistency in the family
The family business owns 20 brands, including the bobby car producer Big, the games from Noris, the wooden toys from Eichhorn and the miniature cars from Schuco and Majorette. In the previous year, sales had increased by five percent.
In addition, the owner family Sieber took over the model train manufacturer Märklin in 2013. The locomotives and wagons of the traditional company are currently also somewhat less in demand, so sales in the current financial year (as of April 30) will fall slightly, announced Simba Dickie boss Florian Sieber. Delivery problems with the electronics would have slowed Märklin, in addition, more expensive raw materials, high energy prices and rising wages would burden the medium-sized company.
As in Germany, more and more remote-controlled cars, dolls and building blocks remain on the shelves worldwide due to a noticeable reluctance to buy. However, in contrast to the German family companies, the large American corporations are reacting harshly: Hasbro plans to cut 1,000 jobs in the next few weeks, the Monopoly producer announced last week. That corresponds to 15 percent of the workforce. In the fourth quarter, sales fell by more than 16 percent to almost $1.7 billion compared to the same period last year, with Hasbro falling far short of analysts’ expectations.
Lego and toy vehicle maker brother deserve better
However, not all toy suppliers suffered losses last year. Compared to the big competitors, Paul Heinz Bruder could even be very satisfied. His brother company, manufacturer of detailed plastic vehicles for the sandbox, increased sales last year by 8.5 percent to 100 million euros. At the same time, however, the costs have “exploded”, complains the family entrepreneur from Fürth.
So far he has borne this burden himself, says brother. But that could no longer be sustained. Therefore, he is now increasing the prices by ten percent. Will consumers pay for it? Brother is skeptical. For the time being, the manufacturer does not believe in further growth: “But we would be happy if we can maintain what we have achieved.”
Market leader Lego apparently also developed better than the market in this country. The Danish family business announced this Tuesday that dealers in Germany had increased their Lego sales by three percent last year. Lego relies on surveys by market researchers. The company did not give details of sales and earnings, but the market share had climbed slightly to 18.5 percent. This means that the shopkeepers earn almost every fifth euro with the colorful plastic blocks from Billund.
Ravensburger wants to invest further
A job cut like at Hasbro is not on the agenda at Ravensburger, asserted shareholder Maier. For good reason: Ravensburger’s sales fell by a total of two percent in 2021 and 2022. After growth of a fifth in 2020 and previously ten percent in 2019, Ravensburger was able to get over the slight decline.
What’s more: “We’re continuing to invest,” emphasizes Maier. Most recently, the entrepreneur took over a wood processing company in Slovakia. Among other things, the company produces rails for its subsidiary Brio, a Swedish wooden railway brand.
The toy fair has shrunk
The toy fair, the world’s largest meeting place for the industry, starts this Wednesday. Maier presents “Disney Locanda”, a trading card game, in Nuremberg. This is a completely new business for Ravensburger, “one of the largest projects of recent times,” says the entrepreneur – and also an attempt to gain a foothold in a market worth billions.
He hopes that “everything will be somewhat normal” this year, emphasizes Maier. However, the Spielwarenmesse is still a long way from what was usual in the past. According to the organizer, only 2100 exhibitors will show their goods by next Sunday, which is a quarter less than in 2020, when the industry last came together in Franconia.
The Nurembergers are still lucky: If China had stuck to its strict Covid policy a little longer, there would have been a lot more space in the halls.
More: Counter-model to the Metaverse: Pokémon Go is to become the basis for the “most detailed map in the world”.