Hong Kong toy makers hope Asia’s largest toy fair will help boost flagging sales

The 43rd annual Toy and Games Fair will feature more than 2,100 exhibitors at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre between January 9 to 12

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 January, 2017, 7:41pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 January, 2017, 10:29pm

Hong Kong’s toy makers are hoping to revitalise flagging sales as they look to next week’s 43rd annual Toys and Games Fair – the largest of its kind in Asia – at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

The fair will bring together a record number of more than 2,100 exhibitors from 42 countries and regions to display products for four days from Monday.

It will take place at the same time as the annual Baby Products Fair and International Stationery Fair, all of which are organised by the Trade Development Council (HKTDC), the statutory body promoting trade for city-based companies.

Last year, the Toys and Games Fair gathered 2,035 exhibitors and drew over 45,000 visitors.

Hong Kong is the second largest toy exporter globally, but the industry has struggled over the past year, particularly from competition from mainland enterprises, putting pressure on prices and profits.

Total toy experts in the first 11 months of 2016 fell to HK$33.75 billion, 24.2 per cent lower than the same period last year.

This was in part due to a “lacklustre global economy”, according to Benjamin Chau Kai-leung, acting HKTDC executive director.

But the toy industry was the only sector to have a positive reading in the HKTDC Export Index in the fourth quarter of 2016, Chau said, “indicating growing confidence about the performance of toy exports in 2017”.

While the city’s toy makers experienced overall declines last year in all major markets, including the mainland, the Christmas holiday season saw a “decent retail sales rise”, he said.

Toy companies were also expected to receive a boost from the two-child policy on the mainland, which last year began allowing all families to have up to two children.

Hong Kong toy makers optimistic about growth of market after introduction of China’s two-child policy

This was expected to result in 17.5 to 21 million more babies annually, Chau said.

Kevin Mak, key account manager of Putao Technology, said he expects an increase in mainland children to help sales of toys, which include augmented reality (AR) storybooks with audio and games that combine the latest image recognition technology.

But the educational and new technology nature of the toys would be the main draw for the company’s products, which will be exhibited by Hong Kong manufacturer Mega Zone Creation.

“AR is a hot item,” Mak told the Post.

The toy industry had seen an increase in the popularity of toys that were licensed, those employing AR and virtual reality, as well as science, technology, engineering and mathematics products, Chau said.

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“Hong Kong companies can look into and explore these products.”

Enterbay International – the Hong Kong-based manufacturer of basketball and movie star figurines – saw sales slow last year in line with the industry, according to Alan Lai, the company’s senior business development executive.

But the company was hopeful performance would improve in 2017, Lai said.

Hong Kong toys were known for their high quality, and this would continue to give the city’s companies a competitive edge, the HKTDC report said.