More private kindergarten schools have cropped up in recent years, and the toy market has grown apace. Phnom Penh-based Toys&Me is the biggest local chain for toy products. Managing Director Keng Titphirum sat down with the Post’s Chan Muy Hong to talk about the future of the industry.
How did your company start?
Toys&Me was launched in December 2007. At that time, our targets were private schools and organisations. We started because we saw the lack of educational toy product supply in Cambodia. Private schools had to shop from nearby countries for most toys. First we imported only wooden toys from [Chinese toy company] Benho. From 2008, we started expanding the variety of toys in our store, aiming to attract parents. Three years later, our efforts are paying off. Sales in 2012 increased by 120 per cent, and we are expecting even more this year.
What kind of toys are available in your store?
Currently, we import quality toys from nine authorised brands, such as Leapfrog, Little Tike, Benho, Silverlip, Barbie and Qietel. We have educational toys, quality toys, baby clothes, feeding accessories. We aim to be a one-stop service for parents.
Can you explain why demand in educational and quality toys has increased in these last few years?
We have to look back to Cambodia’s demographics and history. Back in 2007, those who were parents were born in the 1970s. They were those who struggled after the Khmer Rouge, so toys for their kids were a waste of money.
They did not know how toys can benefit the development of a child’s creativity and intelligence. When they first came to the store, the prices surprised them. Compared to what’s available in the local markets, we were more expensive. But after they understood that cheaper products might contain toxic substances that can be harmful for children, they were willing to pay for better quality. Our customers in the past were first parents. The toys they bought from us for their first child now passes on to their second and third child.
How are you doing in the market?
For the moment, there is no competition. Actually, there is another outstanding distributor in quality toy products, but we have different market segments, so it is not a big problem. We target the mass market. Anyone can come in the store and walk out with something in hand. We try to keep the price very competitive compared to other countries in Europe, in the US or even nearby countries. So our customers know that Toys&Me is the right place with the right price. Now we are providing toy products to around 50 private kindergartens and we have five chain stores located in main spots of Phnom Penh. We plan to expand more into the provinces and within the city. We want to be the biggest chain in Cambodia and plan to expand our distribution outside the country in the future.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.