Famed flamenco doll factory succumbs to Asian competition

Muñecas Marín, which made typically Spanish souvenirs, has been forced to close

The museum devoted to Muñecas Marín's creations is all that remains.
The museum devoted to Muñecas Marín's creations is all that remains.

Andalusian souvenir manufacturer Muñecas Marín, renowned for its flamenco and bullfighter dolls, is shutting down.

A drop in sales and strong competition from Asia has finally forced the closure of an iconic company that was founded in 1928.

In its heyday, the Chiclana-based firm’s assembly lines produced as many as 350,000 figurines a year. At the end just four employees were left on staff.

Muñecas Marín was an industry reference point for typical Spanish souvenirs. It was behind the once-ubiquitous little dancers found atop many TV sets as well as the plastic bulls that tourists bought to prove they had been to Spain.

In its heyday, the Chiclana-based firm produced as many as 350,000 figurines a year

Fifteen percent of its market was in Catalonia, where there was once a threat of a boycott on the company for promoting bullfighting imagery.

Muñecas Marín now finds itself immersed in a meeting of creditors, while some of its former employees have sued for wrongful dismissal.

Juan Ortega worked there for three and a-half years before being laid off. The Supreme Court forced Muñecas Marín to rehire him, but three days later he was let go again. By the time another court annulled the second dismissal, “there was no company to return to,” he says.

Its legacy will remain in the shape of a local museum, reminding visitors of a once-powerful business from days gone by.

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