Fosun Group

Fosun joins Mattel to put Ken and Barbie into Club Med kids’ clubs in China

Many clubs for children and parents to play games and learn have sprung up in first and second tier cities as new generation of middle-class parents embrace Western-style education

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 June, 2017, 12:59pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 June, 2017, 11:37pm

Fosun Group, one of China’s most acquisitive conglomerates, has teamed up with Barbie doll maker Mattel to set up a network of learn and play clubs for children and families operated by its Club Med in China.

It is the latest effort by the Shanghai owner of France’s Club Med, Greece’s Folli Follie and US fashion house St John to cater to affluent Chinese parents.

The Shanghai firm and its billionaire chairman Guo Guangchang – often referred to as China’s answer to Berkshire Hathaway and Warren Buffett – has agreed to form a joint venture with Mattel, which will design a development programme as part of the educational services offered by Club Med’s kids’ clubs in China.

“Parents in China are supremely focused on helping their kids succeed and develop socially and are motivated to give them the best possible start in life,” said Jiannong Qian, the senior vice president of Fosun Group who oversees its tourism arm.

China is the French luxury resort operator’s second biggest market, with outlets in Yabuli, Guilin, Zhuhai and Sanya.

Over the last few years, clubs for children and parents to play games and learn have sprung up in China’s first and second tier cities as the new generation of middle-class parents embrace Western-style education. However, some parents opt to drop off their kids at the centres due to busy work schedules.

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“Mattel’s learning and play clubs match with Chinese parents’ preference on investing surplus funds towards education for their children,”said Carol Lv, a senior research associate with market researcher Euromonitor. “The announcement of the two-child policy in October 2015 also generated more opportunities in kid and infant toys.”

The company has been enriching its portfolio of leisure and health-care brands targeting the country’s booming middle class, with its latest focus on services for children, babies and mothers.

Last year, it became the second largest shareholder of Babytree, a social media platform popular with Chinese expectant and new mothers.

Fosun was also the leading investor in the latest fundraising round in February for Maitao.com, a Shanghai start-up that operates educational family travel tours.

According to Euromonitor, games and puzzles outpaced construction toys as the fastest growing category globally at 8 per cent growth last year.

The first Club Med learning and play club will be in the Bund Finance Centre on Shanghai’s Bund, the city’s most scenic section of waterfront property.

Primarily focused on newborns to six years old, the 15,000 square foot club will include a play area, classroom and day care centre, along with retail space selling Mattel, Club Med and other Fosun-affiliated products.

“The companies plan to expand the learning clubs into a network across China where the market for early education has reached US$30 billion and is expected to continue growing rapidly,” Fosun said in a statement.