Posts tagged ‘Mattel’

02/11/2015

What Will the Two-Child Policy Mean for China’s Property Market? – China Real Time Report – WSJ

China’s latest move to scrap its one-child policy buoyed property developer stocks Friday on hopes it could provide a boost to housing demand.

All Chinese couples will be allowed to have two children, Chinese official media said Thursday, after a meeting of top officials. While a timetable hasn’t been established, there are prospects that an increase in the size of Chinese households could raise demand for larger homes.

Shanghai housewife Tracy Li said she and her husband will be looking for a larger home once their two sons, one aged four and one who is almost a year, get older. They currently live in a two-bedroom apartment in Shanghai’s Minhang district. Like many Chinese parents, she doesn’t think it’s necessary for each child to have their own room but want to be able to accommodate grandparents, who in China are frequently deeply involved in childcare.

“When the children are older, it’s not too good for them to share a bedroom with their grandparents when they come over,” said the 34-year-old Ms. Li, who asked to be referred to by her English, rather than her Chinese, name. Finding a home in a good school district will take some time, said Ms. Li, who wants to move before her oldest son reaches school age.

Source: What Will the Two-Child Policy Mean for China’s Property Market? – China Real Time Report – WSJ

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06/02/2014

James Bond’s Sports Car Has Chinese Supply-Chain Problems – Businessweek

Aston Martin, the luxury sports car manufacturer often associated with James Bond, has the same problem as Mattel’s (MAT) Hot Wheels: glitches in the Chinese supply chain.

Aston Martins

The legendary sports car company is recalling more than 5,000 cars manufactured since 2007. According to a Jan. 15 letter (pdf) from Aston Martin to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the company investigated after reports of throttle pedal arms breaking during installation. Its discovery: “Initial tests on the failed pedal arm have shown that the Tier Three Supplier used counterfeit material.”

The luxury sports cars’ throttle pedals are assembled in Swindon, England, by a company known as Precision Varionic International, which in turn gets its parts from Fast Forward Tooling in Hong Kong. In this case, Fast Forward Tooling subcontracted the molding of pedal arms to Shenzhen Kexiang Mould Tool Co., which bought its allegedly “counterfeit material” from Synthetic Plastic Raw Material Co. in the Chinese factory town of Dongguan. And apparently, James Bond’s gadget man Q was not on hand to inspect quality.

via James Bond’s Sports Car Has Chinese Supply-Chain Problems – Businessweek.

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21/12/2013

Christmas 2013: Inside a Chinese toy factory – Telegraph

Please note the last sentence in this abstract: “… an even bigger problem, which will hit in four to five years’ time, is that workers do not want these jobs any more. It’s not so much about the money, they just don’t want them.”

Good news for next level countries seeking to manufacture for developed countries.

“Yang Jiandong is a Chinese Christmas elf; toys and gadgets division. Here in steamy South China, 6,000 miles away from your front room, the trim and sprightly 39-year-old runs one of the thousands of factories that make the iPads and Furbies, Transformer robots and LeapPads that will soon be waiting under our Christmas trees.

English: Remote Controlled Car

English: Remote Controlled Car (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This year, his favourite gadget is a remote-controlled flying battle drone from the movie Avatar. He giggles when, after navigating it around the showroom, it crashes into the wall. “No problem,” he smiles. “These ones are hard to break”. His company, Attop, turns out 800,000 remote-controlled helicopters a year but also makes accessories for Barbies, puzzles and Hot Wheels cars for Mattel.

In his biscuit-coloured factory, hundreds of workers man the production lines: teenage boys with spiky orange-dyed hair and studded leather jackets, old aunties in woollen trousers and young women who diligently focus on snapping together the shell of the toys or soldering the electronics inside.

One floor down sit the £100,000-a-piece injection moulding machines that crank out the plastic components. Two floors above sit the painters, the most skilled and highly-paid workers in the plant.

They spray the toys with colour or stamp them before moving them to another line for final testing and then boxing.

In the warehouse, boxes of remote-controlled helicopters are marked to go to Costa Rica and Guatemala while Hello Kitty toys are bound for Brazil. “The shipment to the UK left a while back,” a worker says.

There are two commonly held beliefs about Chinese manufacturing. The first is that Chinese factories only churn out cheap, disposable tat.

The second is that they resemble Dickensian workhouses.

But while small, dirty, polluting factories do exist in South China, they are increasingly being squeezed out of the market by well-run, advanced plants like Mr Yang’s.

A recent Chinese scandal which found medical waste being melted into plastic for new toys actually helped Mr Yang’s business, he said. “We had to write to our customers to let them know we did not have any problems,” he says. “Now more buyers turn to trust-worthy companies like ours”.

There is a 100-seat “business academy” with lessons for workers after their shifts, a grand piano in the hallway (“Anyone can play it over lunch”), a mini farm for workers to “relax by growing their own vegetables”, and a research and development department that designed all the Avatar toys in house.

Other plants are even more impressive. Three years ago, a spate of suicides at Foxconn’s Longhua factory convinced the world that the giant factories making our iPhones and iPads are vast, alienating and uncaring.

Today, after intense public pressure, Longhua has become a model factory, with football pitches, reduced working hours and a robot-assisted production line.

Behind the change is consumer pressure. “Ten years ago,” says Mr Yang, “Foreign companies would pick you to make their toys if you could give them a cheap price. They did not care about certification or research and development. But now the first thing they do is check whether you have safety certificates, and whether you are able to certify new toys. It costs huge amounts to get these tests done each time.”

At Attop, the managers believe the smaller toy makers, the ones who have provided cheap toys for years, will soon hit the wall. Christmas next year will be more expensive, and so will the Christmas after that.

“The golden years of the toy business were 1985 to 2000 but since then it has gone really downhill,” said Dave Cave, the British founder of Dragon-i toys in Hong Kong. “First the EU demanded to have all these tests in place. It has made the toys safer, but it has also made them more expensive.”

“Then the Chinese government decided to pay factory workers a fair wage, which of course I support. But costs are rising. And an even bigger problem, which will hit in four to five years’ time, is that workers do not want these jobs any more. It’s not so much about the money, they just don’t want them.””

via Video: Christmas 2013: Inside a Chinese toy factory – Telegraph.

11/03/2013

* Toy Maker Brings K’Nex Production Back to U.S.

Yet another example of manufacturing returning to the West.

WSJ: “As every American child knows, toys come from the North Pole or—more likely—China. But K’Nex Brands LP, a family-owned company in this Philadelphia suburb, is trying to prove they can still be made in America.

image

Over the past few years, K’Nex has brought most of the production of its plastic building toys back to its factory in Hatfield from subcontractors in China. To make that possible, the company has redesigned some of the toys and even handed over to kids a bit of the assembly formerly performed by hand in China.

“In the long term, it’s much better for us to manufacture here,” says Joel Glickman, chairman of K’Nex and its manufacturing affiliate, Rodon Group. The two companies have combined sales of more than $100 million, making them small players compared with American rivals Hasbro Inc. HAS +1.49% and Mattel Inc., MAT +0.41% neither of which has announced plans to shift production to the U.S.

By moving production closer to U.S. retailers, K’Nex said it can react faster to the fickle shifts in toy demand and deliver hot-selling items to stores faster. It also has greater control over quality and materials, often a crucial safety issue for toys. And as wages and transport costs rise in China, the advantages of producing there for the U.S. market are waning.

But K’Nex has found it impossible so far to produce 100% U.S.-made toys, the firm’s goal. The K’Nex experience shows both the attractions of “reshoring” production and the difficulties of making that happen in a country whose manufacturing infrastructure has atrophied.

Lining up suppliers has been a complicated chore in the U.S., where toy-making skills have faded. China, by contrast, has a vast, efficient network of suppliers and skilled labor. “In China, you can go over with just a drawing and say, ‘I need a million of these,'” says Michael Araten, chief executive of K’nex. That helps account for a huge U.S. deficit in the toy trade. In 2012, U.S. imports of toys, games and sporting goods, mostly from China, totaled $33.5 billion, or about three times U.S. exports of such items.”

via Toy Maker Brings K’Nex Production Back to U.S. – WSJ.com.

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