No island of misfit toys: Czech Republic is EU’s top toy exporter to non-EU countries

According to the statistics office Eurostat, the Czech Republic is the biggest exporter of toys to non-EU states from the entire EU. In its report, Eurostat confirmed that Czech production last year accounted for 32 percent of the EU’s overall toy exports outside the EU, worth a total of 1.5 billion euros in all.

Igráček, photo: archive of EfkoIgráček, photo: archive of Efko The Czechs have a saying ‘Kdo si hraje nezlobí’ – A person who plays does not have time to be naughty. If that is the case, there are a lot of well-behaved children and even parents worldwide thanks to Czech toy export. The Czechs have ranked first as the No. 1 exporter of toys out of 28 (soon to be 27) EU member states, exporting toys as far off as South Korea, Russia, Japan, Israel and the United States.

The Czech Republic counted 32 percent of the pie, compared to 20 percent from neighbouring Germany, which finished second on the list. The main destinations for toys from the EU overall in 2016 were Russia and Switzerland (15 percent) and the United States (13 percent).

Czech Radio reported on one Czech company, Efko, which has making toys at two factories since 1993. It specializes in puzzles, wooden blocks, card and board games, as well as the Czech “answer” to Playmobil called Igráček. The firm’s Miroslav Kotík told Czech Radio how Efko had gone from strength to strength, with exports going up between eight and 12 percent annually:

“The Czech Republic is regarded as technologically highly advanced as well as an advanced and robust economy. All of those things are factors which help.”

Another Czech firm, Detoa, which manufactures wooden toys at its plant in the vicinity of the Jizera Mountains, has seen its production go up by around eight percent each year over the last three. The company’s Jaroslav Zeman told Czech Radio’s Radiožurnál about the volume of toys sent on to foreign markets.

“Over the last 20 years the number has remained the roughly the same: around 65 percent of our products end up on export markets. We export the most to Germany and Switzerland but also to the United States and Scandinavia. And Japan is very strong. Those are important markets for us.”

An official from the Czech Associations for Toys and Play, Jiří Šťastný, confirmed for Czech Radio that overall Czech export had risen by five percent annually for 10 years. He cited 270 Czech toy and games producers and four international ones: Lego, Mattel, Symba and Ravensburger as some of the reasons for the success.