At the Pompidou Center in Paris, an activity gym for infants is displayed on a stage in the middle of a white room. The toy, called Gymini, is produced by the Tiny Love company, a member of the Shilav group. One of the owners of Shilav and the CEO of Tiny Love, Shoshi Oren, says that Gymini was chosen to be prominently displayed at the Pompidou Center because of its "perfect design."
However, there is more to Tiny Love's success than sound product design. The company was founded in 1993, and specializes in designing and manufacturing developmental toys for babies. Tiny Love now accounts for about 3 percent of the baby toy global market, with annual exports of $50-60 million (in consumer prices). Oren says the company has a 25 percent global market share for mobiles and activity gyms while competing against giants like Fisher-Price.
Oren says that the company's musical mobile and Gymini product lines have become a model for other toymakers. She notes, for example, that Tiny Love's battery-operated mobiles, which play classical music, have become the trendsetter in the American market despite the fact their $40 price tag is twice as high as competing models.
Oren explains that the international market was Tiny Love's target from the beginning. Israel accounts for only 4 percent of the company's turnover, while half of its sales are in the United States and the rest are in Europe, Japan and Australia. The company's revenues grew by 25 percent last year, and a similar rate of growth is projected for this year, Oren says, adding that Japan is the firm's fastest growing market.
The Oren family group has received a number of offers for acquiring the Shilav group or bringing in a strategic partner. However, the family says it prefers to remain in Israel, while potential buyers generally are interested in moving operations abroad.
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