Playmobil sales are increasing or decreasing

economy : Toys are running out at Playmobil and Lego

Berlin - parents under stress: Anyone who is only now starting to work through their children's wish lists can experience a nasty surprise. "There are bottlenecks in some of our products," said Andrea Schauer, managing director of the Zirndorf toy manufacturer Playmobil, the Tagesspiegel. Something similar can also be heard from the Lego competitor: Dirk Engehausen, Lego managing director for Central and Southern Europe admits that there have been “problems” with the “subsequent delivery of particularly strong-selling items”.

What can worry parents, grandparents and godparents is driving the toy industry into euphoria. After falling sales in recent years, business in Germany is picking up again: "Everything speaks for the fact that the trend reversal has been achieved," says the industry. It is true that we only know how the Christmas business went in January, but “the signs are good,” reports Steffen Kahnt, Deputy Managing Director of the Federal Association of Toy Retailers. The toy industry generates 40 percent of its annual turnover in the months of November and December, no wonder that manufacturers and retailers are particularly keen to monitor the development of turnover in these months.

They like what they have seen so far. "It looks pretty good," says Playmobil boss Schauer. Turnover, which last year was 361 million euros, is likely to increase between five and nine percent this year - once again. Unlike the industry, the traditional Franconian company has been growing for years. And not just in Germany. In Spain, Playmobil classics such as the farm, Noah's Ark and the zoo are already completely sold out. “We grew faster than expected,” Schauer explains the delivery difficulties.

Problems can also arise in Germany. This is especially true for the Playmobil novelty, the hospital. Although the clinic is not exactly cheap with a retail price of just under 140 euros, it is sold out in some shops. “The trade was rather skeptical,” reports the Playmobil boss, “and has not ordered enough”. Although the people of Zirndorf are now clearing their warehouse and the machines in Dietenhofen, Franconia, where Playmobil has been producing for the most part, are running at full speed, it is no longer possible to place every reorder in time before Christmas. Even with the brand new dinosaur series, which has only been on the market for a week, bottlenecks are already becoming apparent: the Triceratops in particular is in great demand. Switching to the Playmobil online shop would not help either. “We take care of all orders one after the other. There is no special treatment for our online shop, ”emphasizes Schauer.

There is a reason for this: You don't want to snub local retailers. Because the toy stores do not like to see the online activities of the major toy manufacturers. They fear being booted out. Especially when the producers offer their goods cheaper in their own internet store than stationary retailers. The latest example: the Göppingen model railway manufacturer Märklin, which had a falling out with its specialist dealers in the middle of the Christmas business. The ailing model railway company, which had only recently been rescued by the British financial investor Kingsbridge, had significantly expanded sales via the Internet and in the company's own museum shop - much to the annoyance of the dealers.

Lego doesn't want to spoil itself with the trade either. The Danes, who once revolutionized the world of toys with their pegging stones, have had difficult years behind them. Things have been looking up again for a year. In 2005, sales in Central Europe rose by 6.6 percent to 213 million euros, this year sales could increase by a further six to ten percent - if Lego were fully deliverable, says Dirk Engehausen. But more important than “short-term sales generation” is “long-term, balanced and stable production that delivers the right output for the entire year,” emphasizes the Lego managing director.

In order to get out of the identity and sales crisis, Lego has gone back to its roots. The range has been streamlined and the classic lines have been strengthened. Top sellers this year: the Lego Duplo Zoo for the little ones from two, the Lego City freight train for children from six and the large black tow truck from Lego Technic. Although this is intended for children from eleven, says Lego spokeswoman Katharina Sutch, but grown-ups like to do handicrafts: "This is also something for the fathers."

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