Like other sectors, the toy industry is under pressure on supply.
Some items may be missing from the shelves, but a total break is not envisaged.
Dependence on Asia could push some players to repatriate part of their production.
After bicycles and semiconductors, here is the toy sector hit in turn by the risk of shortages and supply disruptions, with growing fear for Christmas.
In mid-September, the CEO of Système U explained on Europe 1 that he had a "concern" for certain products: "we lack electronic parts to make toys, but we also lack transport".
In one sentence, the leader summed up the problems facing the toy industry like many others.
On the one hand, there is a tension on the components and raw materials - wood, plastic - necessary for the manufacture of figurines, dummy pistols or even activity tables.
With the economic recovery, every company, every continent, wants to get supplies as quickly as possible.
But the production capacity, undermined by the Covid-19, does not always keep pace.
As a result, prices are soaring: the cost of some plastics more than doubled between 2020 and 2021.
A container worth gold
On the other hand, procurement is still just as complicated. "The big impact for us is the deregulation of maritime transport", recognizes Ludovic Martin, CEO of JuraToys, which owns the Janod and Kaloo brands, well known to parents. His company designs the models in France, then has most of its toys manufactured in Asia, which means importing them via container ships.
"With the global recovery and the shortage of ships, the price of containers has soared," continues the manager.
For a "standard" size of 40 feet [about 12 m], the price has dropped from $ 1,500 a year ago to $ 12,000 or even $ 15,000 today.
So obviously, this represents a huge additional financial cost for companies.
Some chose to wait and see if the prices would drop before ordering ”.
But there is currently no improvement in sight.
More expensive toys?
"The price increases are such that some toys will stay in Asia," recognizes Romain Mulliez, CEO of PicWicToys. For us, the Covid-19 and the disorganization it caused do not explain such an increase in prices. The public authorities must take an interest in the way in which the world transport of goods works [where a few companies provide the bulk of the traffic] ”.
While waiting for a possible investigation into this oligopoly, the consequences will be real in the stores.
“There will be a shortage on certain toys, but no total breakdown,” explains Romain Mulliez.
So don't panic, you can still buy that horrible light-up phone for your niece.
On the other hand, certain items on the shelves could suffer from import tariffs: "At the end of the year, consumers will pay more for their toys, and that will also be the case next year," said Ludovic Martin.
With us, the increases will be on average 3%, which is still largely insufficient to compensate for the additional cost of transport ”.
Faced with this dependence on the Asian continent, some are wondering about repatriating part of the production, in order to better control the supply chain.
“Since the start of the year, we have been producing cardboard puzzles and games in France,” says Ludovic Martin, from JuraToys.
But for Romain Mulliez, "deciding to relocate production to Europe means long-term changes, not something that can be done in a hurry".
"We are ready to promote the local economy, but often there is a real lack of know-how, with unsuitable factories which lack cutting-edge technology", for his part, regrets Ludovic Martin.
For this Christmas (and the following ones), we will therefore still have to rely on Asia.
How long will the shortage of bicycles last in France?
(A hint: be patient)
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