Swedish toy company BRIO is celebrating its 130th anniversary this year and is seeking to emphasise the importance of play. Sophie Elvefors, Deputy Managing Director of BRIO, says:
"For us, it is the act of playing which is of vital importance. For over a hundred years, it has developed us both as a company and as people. Our ambition is not only to make durable toys that last for several generations; for us, it is also important that we enrich people's childhoods, and the rest of their lives."
Around the world, there is a growing concern that play is not afforded the important and necessary role it should have in children's upbringing. Research shows that children are given less and less opportunity to play freely and that families are spending less time with each other. It's important for all of us to embrace our inner child and get down on the floor to play with our kids.
BRIO's miniature wooden railway was first launched in 1958, with racks and bridges made of wood, and it has gone on to become a much-treasured childhood toy worldwide. Indeed, often a child's first BRIO toys are inherited from their parents and they then go on to create imaginative worlds by combining the older toys with new, more-modern BRIO products. During the past decade, BRIO has launched several innovative concepts. Modern monorail trains and aeroplanes now run along the same railway lines that Grandad played with as a child.
"We have put a lot of energy into raising the value of playing and expanding, for example, the Railway world. At the same time, we are doing this in a respectful way to ensure that the old and the new literally fit together”, says Michael Heun, Product Development Manager at BRIO.
BRIO was founded in 1884 in Osby, a small community in the south of Sweden. BRIO gained a reputation for making toys of high quality. As early as the 1940s, BRIO was appointed official supplier to the Swedish Royal Court, an honour the company retains to this day.
BRIO's first global success, the Labyrinth game, came in 1946. This was a unique invention that was not only adored by children but was also used all over Europe in the rehabilitation of thousands of injured pilots, following the Second World War.
"One of the keys to BRIO’s survival and growth during its 130-year history is that we always placed our focus on the child and the act of playing while, at the same time keeping pace with the times. BRIO’s history is an inherent part of the company’s identity and will be a strength as we look to the future”, says Sophie Elvefors.
Since 1st January 2014, all of BRIO's wooden products are manufactured using FSC certified wood. The Swedish toy company is among the first within the toy industry to take such a holistic approach to production. For BRIO, labelling is a way of ensuring that children will also have the opportunity to enjoy both the forest and wooden toys in the future.
"Our need for wood presupposes an insight into the significance that we must preserve the world's forests and take a long-term responsibility for the forestry. Therefore, we have chosen to FSC certify all our wooden toys." says Göran Kullberg who is CSR and Head of Quality at BRIO.
FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) is a global, not-for-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of responsible forest management worldwide. FSC certification provides credibility and the assurance that BRIO is using raw material that comes from well managed forests, that no illegal timber has been used and that the production of toys abides to international labour law standards.
"To FSC, it means a lot that an industry leader such as BRIO has made a commitment to source responsibly. By being visible on a product that is found in the daily lives of so many families and children we are able to spread our important message." says Marcelle Peuckert, Business Development Director from FSC International.
BRIO primarily uses beech-wood from Central Europe. The FSC certification means that all wood used in the products is traceable and has its origins from responsible forestry.
"A FSC label shows that you contribute to forest preservation so that people, now and in the future, are able to enjoy forests and wooden toys. Because of this, BRIO is a brand that you as a parent can have great confidence in," says Marcelle Peuckert.