The Simba Dickie Group is investing heavily in the future of Smoby Toys. A new production facility has been opened in Arinthod which sets the standard for ultra-modern manufacturing techniques and high energy efficiency.
In the French Jura Friday the thirteenth will be a lucky day from now onwards. Because it was on Friday, 13th May that the Simba Dickie Group celebrated the opening of a new production facility for Smoby Toys in Arinthod. A tribute to a site with tradition, coupled with a 13-million euro investment. Another 1.5 million was spent on renovating the administrative headquarters in Lavans-lés-Saint-Claude,
36 kilometres from Arinthod.
Leading distinguished guests on a conducted tour of the new production facility in Arinthod: Michael Sieber (right) and Thomas Le Paul (second from right).
"We have a fantastic team at Smoby, and
we want them to have the best possible
working conditions," said Michael Sieber,
CEO of the Simba Dickie Group. He astounded the distinguished guests, who included Jura Prefect Francis Vuibert, by making his opening speech in fluent French: a testimony to his high regard for France and the French way of living.
Part of the capital of a company is the extent to which its employees identify with it. Which makes Thomas Le Paul, Managing Director of Smoby Toys France, feel optimistic about the future of France’s biggest toy manufacturer: "We are glad to be employing so many people at Arinthod whose parents worked here too. Over the generations this has forged a strong link with Smoby." And this link should stretch
into future generations too: "Our investment is proof that we believe in the long-term future of the site and of our employees," says Le Paul.
Political support for Arinthod is also exemplary. The authorities’ fast-track approval processes supported each and every phase of the building and renovation work. An experience that can be attributed to the quality of the site. On the other hand, the investor’s benefit from the work is not purely financial. "The entire Simba Dickie Group has improved its image thanks to the Smoby takeover in France," says Simba Dickie Group COO Uwe Weiler. He also expects improved production efficiency now that previously separate facilities have been brought together. The other sites in France will not be closing, however; they will be used for storage or assembly.
In addition to the economic aspects, this toy factory is an attractive addition to the
landscape of Arinthod and its environs (4700 inhabitants). This hilly region of
the French Jura is a laid-back sort of place where the fashionable exhortation
to "slow down" has always been taken to heart. The ideal place for the unpasteurised Comté cheese to mature at its leisure along with the famous Sauvignon grapes – and with good ideas. "It’s no coincidence that Smoby is the market leader in many countries for things like toy kitchens and Wendy houses," says Weiler. "If you look through our current product catalogue you’ll find a host of new ideas and creative realisations." Sieber, too, sees Smoby as an "ideas factory". The investments in Arinthod and Lavans are the guarantee that it will remain so in future.
Opening celebration: the Simba Dickie Group has invested 7 million euro in the production facility, and another 6 million in modern machinery.