Toy retailers are called to code of conduct summit

A host of retailers has been invited to a meeting on October 3 in Paris to discuss an international code of conduct drafted for the toy industry.

More than 10 groups, including Argos, Marks & Spencer and Woolworths, have been invited by the International Chamber of Commerce to discuss the proposed code, which is backed by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson.

International retailers invited include Carrefour, Costco, Karstadt, Kmart, Target, Toys R Us and Wal-Mart.

The International Council of Toy Industries (ICTI) Code of Business Practices has been drawn up to provide an ethical standard for the toy sector, which is worth£1.9 billion in the UK alone.

ICTI president David Hawtin said: 'The overall goal of the meeting is to obtain industry-wide agreement on a process that will result in the closest possible convergence among the various codes of ethical conduct.'

A spokeswoman for Woolworths, which produces its own Chad Valley toy range, said its standards already exceed industry benchmarks. Woolworths' head of quality assurance Richard Neill will attend the meeting and the retailer will 'carefully consider points made'.

Barry Ellis, chairman of the British Toy & Hobby Association, which backs the planned code, said it would also potentially save retailers money by significantly reducing the number of manufacturer audits that take place at present.

He said this could have significant potential cash benefits in a country such as China, where there are thousands of manufacturers.