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Mattel Inc advocates 100 per cent FDI

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Mattel Inc, the largest toys manufacturer in the US, wants India to allow 100 per cent FDI.

“If the Indian government does not open up 100 per cent foreign direct investment in retail, then it will limit our ability to grow here,” Mattel Inc vice-president, Chris Willson-White, told media.

The growth of toy companies is critically linked to the growth of the retail sector, he said. The Indian retail sector is growing significantly with bigger Indian companies entering the retail sector.

“We need to grow. In the long-term, we see India as potentially a very, very large market,” said Willson-White, who in charge of Mattel’s Indian market.

“Local retailers are growing and we are growing with them and that is great. But their operations are relatively small in comparison with foreign players.”

Shoppers’ Stop has 18 stores, he said. “But if you have European retailer Carrefour coming here, it would open 300 stores. That is how they (foreign retailers) do business.”

Mattel entered the Indian market in the late 1980s through a joint venture with Blowplast, to market toys under the Leo-Mattel brand. But the two parted ways in the mid-1990s and Mattel has continued to do business in India on its own.

“The quality of Blowplast toys did not meet Mattel standards. That was one of the reasons we broke up the joint venture with Blowplast,” Willson-White said.

Through the joint venture period, Mattel sold its toys in 110 cities. Now, Mattel is in 40 cities, but has started making profits. “We are on the black side. Market has turned around from loss-making to profit-making today,” he said.

Mattel Inc entered the Indian market with about 50 toys and now has 500 products in its portfolio.

Willson-White said, for Mattel, India is today where Brazil was eight years ago. “Brazil to us was a very small market eight years ago. We invested heavily in that market and now Brazil is in our top 12 markets.”

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