GTR speaks with Tim Scott Stuart, a self-described “toy hunter”, whose business Unit Bricks has been exporting out of Asia for 15 years. Unit Bricks primarily designs and manufactures early-childhood building blocks which teach mathematics, but also does some outsourcing for toy companies globally.

Having originally manufactured just over the border between China and Hong Kong, Scott Stuart has experienced similar trends reported by many manufacturers over the past couple of decades: costs rise and production facilities move up the coast. Unit Bricks has also utilised factories in the likes of Thailand and Vietnam.

As the manufacturing model has changed, so too has the consumption pattern. Scott Stuart is selling more to emerging Asia and while he previously relied on a “just-in-time” production model, he now keeps inventory in Hong Kong, which he can distribute to buyers in Asia as and when demand arises.

His relationship with the banking system is simple: he prefers not to borrow when possible, describing the mainly self-financed Unit Bricks as “a self-licking ice cream cone”. However, needs must and in order to take on inventory, to invest in infrastructure to develop new tools and to ensure that his suppliers are paid on time, he has a number of credit facilities with US banks.