Hasbro to start making toys in Vietnam and India as US-China trade war goes on

Tokyo — The trade war is changing the landscape of toy land, with Hasbro accelerating plans to shift away from China in favour of new plants in Vietnam and India.

The world’s largest publicly traded toymaker, which has licences for popular franchises such as “Frozen” and the “Avengers,” said US goods produced in China could drop to about 50% by the end of 2020, from just under two-thirds currently.

“We’re increasingly spreading our footprint and adding new geographies for production globally,” CEO Brian Goldner said on a conference call to discuss second-quarter earnings. “So we feel very good about where we’re going.”

Hasbro is the latest company changing its strategy amid heightened tension between the US and China. There are growing signs that the global supply chain, long reliant on China as the factory for the world, is being permanently transformed. Some multinationals including Intel are reviewing their production plans, while others are already speeding diversification to spread risk as widely as possible.

Goldner said China continues to be a high-quality, low-cost place to make toys, and “it will continue to be part of our global network in a major way”, according to the transcript of the call. Nonetheless, Hasbro said it has already seen disruption because of trade worries.

CFO Deborah Thomas said some retailers briefly paused direct import orders from manufacturing locations during the second quarter as they watched the trade situation. In 2018, 35% of Hasbro’s US and Canada revenue was delivered through such direct imports. It expects the percentage to decline in 2019, forcing Hasbro to take on more imports itself.

If tariffs were to come into play, Hasbro would expect an effect in the fourth quarter, Thomas said.

“We’ve done the work and are prepared to address tariffs if they happen, but continue to believe they would be very disruptive to our business and consumers in the near term,” she said on the call.

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