Toy World caught up with Nabil and his son Camille, who has taken over the agency, to find out how the family first became involved with the toy market thanks to a very British connection.
CMC Global, aka “P@P”, is a Dubai-based sales, marketing, communications and brand licensing agency which provides a fully integrated service covering every step from idea to market. For three generations of P@Ps, the company has worked with a huge selection of brands and IPs. Toy World met owner Nabil Madi and his son Camille in Nuremberg to hear about the company’s fascinating journey and why Nabil still loves visiting Nuremberg 50 years after he first attended the show.
Nabil takes up the tale: “Our family’s story in the Toy Industry started during World War 2, when my father Camille, the founder of Camille Madi & Co (which later became CMC Global) joined the British army in Egypt as a Lebanese volunteer. He advanced until he became a Brigadier in the welfare service (Non-Combatant), responsible for all non-military provisions, especially for the various Officer’s Clubs across Egypt.”
At the time, all British citizens above the age of 18 were mobilized in the army. Some would join the fighting army and others went into the welfare service.
A young British reservist was sent to one of the officer’s clubs in the city of Ismailia on the Suez Canal, and assigned a job as one of my father’s assistants. This gentleman was Leslie Smith, one of the founders of the iconic Matchbox brand, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year.
Leslie was stationed there until he was de-mobilized at the end of the war, when he returned to the UK and, along with Jack O’Dell, established a small diecast manufacturing facility producing doorknobs and similar diecast products.
To commemorate the late Queen Elizabeth’s coronation, the two partners decided to produce a diecast replica of the Coronation Car, followed by a London Bus and London Taxi.
Nabil explained how the Matchbox name came about: “The models were able to fit in the large pipe matchbox, and Leslie’s son took it to school, where he lost it. At home, he cried and said that someone stole his Matchbox, and this is how the name was created.
“In 1952, my father left the army and returned to Lebanon. Leslie Smith stayed in contact with my father, exchanging Christmas and other holiday greetings, until one day he informed him of the Matchbox success in the UK and asked if he could help introduce the toys to Lebanon and the Middle East. My father agreed to do so, and soon established a new toy distribution company (CMC) adding manufacturers such as Combex-Marx, J. W. Spear, Thomas Salter, Merit and many others.
“I took over the business when he passed away in 1976 and the company grew to what it is today. Having just attended my 50th Nurnberg Toy Fair, I am gradually retiring now, and my son Camille has taken over the running of the agency with a completely refreshed trademark identity & strategy, which is detailed on our website www.cmc-global.com
Anyone looking for a partner in Dubai and the Middle East is welcome to contact Camille Madi via email email@example.com for an initial discussion on the services the company can offer.