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Foxconn of toy world to set up India's first toy cluster in Karnataka

India imports USD 1.2 billion worth of toys annually, mostly from China and the toy cluster being developed is to raise domestic manufacturing.

It is Foxconn of the toy world, manufacturing some of the most popular superhero figures and toy dart guns at a factory in Karnataka for some of the biggest names in the global toy industry. And it is now setting up India's first toy manufacturing cluster to boost domestic industry.

Aequs Private Limited is developing a 400-acre toy manufacturing cluster at Koppal in Karnataka at an investment of USD 500 million, its Chairman Aravind Melligeri said.

"Toy industry globally is a USD 90 billion-market and Indian market size is about USD 1.7 billion," he said.

India imports USD 1.2 billion worth of toys annually, mostly from China and the toy cluster being developed is to raise domestic manufacturing.

"China exports USD 20 billion worth of toys and recreation goods annually," he said.

Aequs, which has two units operating at its Belagavi SEZ, is a contract manufacturer just like Foxconn, which makes iPhones for Apple Inc. It caters to some of the largest North American and European toy brands.

The company exported USD 100 million worth of toys last year to nations spread from Russia to Brazil, he said. Aequs exports products across the world, primarily to USA, Latin America, and Europe.

"Six marquee toy manufacturers and suppliers have already signed up for setting up factories in the toy cluster," he said without disclosing their names.

Out of the 400 acres of the cluster, 300 acres will be a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) dedicated for exports and the rest would cater to the domestic market, he said.

Aequs makes toys for some of the known names but Melligeri did not reveal their identities due to the confidentiality clause.

"India has the required skill sets as well as material and so we thought why not set up a toy cluster and bring them all in one place," he said.

Work on the toy cluster started in January this year. The integrated manufacturing facility will support plastic and electronic toy manufacturers in design, moulding, assembly, painting, and packaging.

"The toy manufacturing ecosystem will house over 100 units with a potential to generate over 25,000 direct jobs apart from 1,00,000 indirect jobs," he said.

Koppal is already famous for its Kinhal toys and has an artistic heritage. This gives an easy access to a huge pool of affordable skilled and semi-skilled labour.

Presence of 52 industrial training institutes and 5 polytechnic institutes in Koppal along with design and R&D institutes such as NID Bengaluru, IIT Dharwad, further serve the need for skilled human resources for this labour-intensive industry.

There exists a good number of small and large-scale industries in the district which will also support the raw material requirement of the cluster.

Aequs has the advantage of creating a unique manufacturing ecosystem facilitating easy access to manpower and other logistics incentives, among others.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been a vocal supporter of expanding domestic toy manufacturing. He had last year spoken of the nation becoming self-reliant in every field, including in toys.

He will inaugurate 'The India Toy Fair 2021' on February 27, bringing together all stakeholders including buyers, sellers and designers on a virtual platform to create sustainable linkages and encourage dialogue for the overall development of the industry.


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