French toystore chain King Jouet is investing ten million euros in the transformation of the Maxi Toys stores in Belgium and Luxembourg. That sum should allow the chain to stay ahead of the shrinking market and to grow 5 to 10 % over the next three years.
All hands on deck
King Jouet started to regain market share last month, General Manager Philippe Chalmandrier of King Jouet Belgium&Switzerland, told Belgian newspaper La Libre. Last summer, the Belgian Maxi Toys stores changed their name to King Jouet, even though the brand name was supposed to remain after the 2020 takeover. “However, the image had been seriously damaged“, Chalmandrier says, mainly due to stock problems.
The rebranding was first tested in Switzerland, where the six Maxi Toys branches were the first to change their names. King Jouet is now taking the Swiss lessons learned to Belgium. The plan is to invest ten million euros: the Belgian distribution centre closed down, but the shops are being renovated, stocks replenished and, above all, there is a lot of communication.
“We have three main lines of communication: paper (with the catalogue), radio (to announce commercial actions) and social networks. We hear more and more about King Jouet on social networks”, Chalmandrier stated. The coming festive period will require all hands on deck – meaning extended opening hours and extra staff. As Black Friday too becomes ever more important, the group now earns half of its sales in November and December.
“Europe is failing us”
Consumers are waiting extra long to do their festive shopping this year, and are expected to spend about 5 % less on toys. Consequently, the market is shrinking: King Jouet now claims it would already be happy if sales remain stable this year. The group is now going for 5 to 10 % growth over a two- to three-year period. One major thing that angers Chalmandrier is the fact that platforms like AliExpress and Amazon are teeming with counterfeit and unregulated toys. Europe is failing there, he believes.
In French-speaking Belgium, King Jouet sees serious growth potential both online (from 5 % to 10 to 15 %) and physically. King Jouet is not venturing into the Dutch-speaking North of Belgium any time soon, claiming it is a very different market. Indeed, King Jouet is currently only present in French-speaking countries: France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Morocco. In Belgium, the chain is already turning over 33 million euros in turnover and is close to break-even. From 2024, Chalmandrier says the Belgian branch should be profitable.