Jacques Baudoz, CEO of JouéClub: "Consumers are not making cutbacks on the Christmas budget for kids
It's back to school time for JouéClub, which is gearing up for the Christmas shopping season and eagerly awaiting its customers. We spoke with Jacques Baudoz, the company's CEO, about inflation, stocks for the festive season, and targets for the end of the year.
As a toy retailer, how do you view inflation and the uncertain economic climate?
To begin with, we freeze our prices from October until the end of the year, which is what we've always done. This policy allows us to ensure that parents can do their Christmas shopping right up to the last minute, without being faced with price rises. This practice applies to all JouéClub outlets. As we're a local brand, it's a form of respect that we impose on ourselves towards our customers. To be able to deliver on this promise, we work on our volumes as closely as possible with our suppliers. Given the current economic climate, our aim is to offer the right price for our products. Our offer is therefore made up of references at affordable prices, as well as a few exceptional items for Christmas, which cost a little more.
Inflation in the toy sector occurred between 2021 and 2022, as some supplies were cut back due to soaring logistics costs. But it's a resilient market for the simple reason that, in the face of inflation, consumers aren't making concessions on their budget for gifts for children.
Our pricing policy and our offering seem to be paying off, since our results are stable in the midst of a shrinking market (-5% decline by 2022).
What targets have you set yourself for Christmas 2022?
We don't really have any precise targets, because we're a cooperative, so each shop sets its own objectives. We encourage them to do more, to surpass themselves. But beyond that, we don't interfere in their choices.
If we had to talk about targets, with what we're forecasting in terms of supply and stocks for the back-to-school period, I think our minimum would be to remain stable, at zero. After that, we have the capacity to achieve growth of up to 3 points. We've been averaging 2.1% growth over this period for some years now.
The problem is that it's very difficult to predict anything when you take into account the unpredictability of the festive season. We can make half our sales on 23 December. All we can anticipate is being ready to welcome customers, have products, and sell them right up to the last minute.
How much of your sales is e-commerce?
E-commerce accounts for 15% of our sales (delivery and click and collect). In 2022, we went through a low point with a drop in internet sales, which was just compensation for the strong growth in 2021. However, we've seen an upturn since the start of the year.
A pivotal year for JouéClub
2023 is a pivotal year for JouéClub, particularly since the acquisition of the majority of La Grande Récré outlets. According to Jacques Baudoz, the cooperative is consolidating its market thanks to this acquisition.
In a shrinking market, JouéClub aims to do well through a programme based on four pillars:
Innovating the offer
Olivier Donval, Director of Collections, comments: "During the health crisis, innovation in toys was fairly stagnant. Since then, we've seen a very encouraging improvement.
When it comes to sustainability, JouéClub is banking on relocation. Most of this involves their own brands. Over 1,000 products are made in France or Europe, representing 30% of the Christmas catalogue and 20% of sales. "Although it's easier to be eco-responsible with our primary brands than with our suppliers, the latter are aware of our ambitions and follow as closely as possible a CSR roadmap that corresponds to them", comments Marie Aranda, Import and European Purchasing Manager. As a result, more than half of the collections follow a zero plastic packaging policy.
The brand is also developing the sale of second-hand toys. On average, their customers bring back three used toys per family - a good start, but still not enough for the company, which is planning a major communications campaign on the subject from September.
A season full of potential
While the brand is seeing a decline in "outdoor" games and dolls, Andres Mieses, Group Sales Director, sees the end of 2023 as very promising. In fact, the decline in outdoor toys is mainly due to bad weather, and that of dolls is being absorbed following the theatrical release of Greta Gerwig's Barbie film. He comments: "The economic context at the end of this year is very favourable, and inflation is almost non-existent in the toy world. Our offer is rich enough to allow us to grow, and we are offering a number of exclusive products. I'm entirely confident that we're going to have a good season."
Bringing people together through play
This part of the company's strategy revolves around inclusiveness. To address this issue, it is setting up quiet hours for people with disabilities that cause hypersensitivity, every Tuesday from 4pm to 6pm. JouéClub's range of board games has been developed to make them accessible to all, with larger pieces to make them easier to handle for people with motor disabilities and older people with reduced motor skills.