German board game, toymaker HABA exits insolvency in wake of plan to slash workforce by 40%

HABA, the 85-year-old Germany toymaker famous for its family-weight board games, has exited insolvency proceedings in the wake of a plans to shed over 650 jobs – about 40% of its workforce.

BoardGameWire reported last September that Haba had gone into self-administration in an attempt to save the business. Company spokesperson Ilka Kunzelmann told BoardGameWire at the time that “some decisions made in recent years have been found to be incorrect in hindsight”, adding that disruptions in supply chains had also had a negative impact on the business.

A month later the company revealed it planned to cut its 1,677-strong workforce down to about 1,000 as part of a “comprehensive restructuring”, with the aim of restoring its focus on high-quality toys and games that promote child development. 

HABA began life as a wooden toy maker in 1938, and has since expanded into board games such as Rhino Hero and Orchard, educational furniture through its HABA Pro brand and children’s clothing via its Jako-o arm.

That expansion came at a cost amid the volatile market environment post-Covid, however, with the company seeing sales fall 11% last year to €313m.

HABA announced it was discontinuing its Jako-o clothing brand at the start of 2024, instead choosing to refocus back on its wooden toy roots.

HABA FamilyGroup managing director Mario Wilhelm said, “The end of the self-administration proceedings marks an important milestone on our path into the future.

“We are sending an important signal to our customers, suppliers and the Upper Franconian region.”

He added, “The conversations at the Toy Fair in Nuremberg and also at the didacta Education Fair in Cologne have shown the relevance of our HABA and HABA Pro brands on the market and also for our national and international customers and partners.

HABA said Wilhelm and fellow managing director Stefanie Frieß would now be supported by external restructuring expert Marcus Katholing from Pluta Management, while a steering committee to advise the management will also be established.

Martin Mucha, a restructuring expert from law firm Grub Brugger, joined the company last year to work on the self-administration.

He said, “Over the past few months, we have worked intensively on a clear brand positioning, viable cost structures and a sustainable internal and external positioning of the company.

“We have succeeded in setting the course for a successful future for HABA FamilyGroup so that the company can continue its 85-year tradition.”

Tobias Sorg from Dmp solutions acted as a provisional administrator, supporting both proceedings in the interests of the creditors.

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