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Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Losses in toyland

April 17, 2009

USA/Check Out the losses at Mattel, the world’s biggest toy company.

The maker of Barbie said its first-quarter loss widened and CEO Robert Eckert said Mattel would keep controlling costs as tough market conditions test the resilience of toy companies.

But one area where Mattel has not scrimped is on its worldwide campaign to spotlight Barbie, its 50-year-old flagship doll, which has suffered months of weak sales as children’s taste in toys change. 

Those steps included a fashion show in New York, unveiling a six-story flagship store in Shanghai, a party in Malibu, California, and selling special designs of Barbie dolls.

Its efforts seem to be reaping some early benefits. 

Worldwide Barbie sales fell 5 percent in the first quarter, less than its overall sales decline, while sales increased in the double digit range in the domestic market. 

“Clearly, retailers have made room for Barbie in an otherwise difficult environment,” Wedbush Morgan Securities analyst Chris White said.  “Retailers have been persuaded that Barbie looks good enough to take a chance on.”

(Additional reporting by Aarthi Sivaraman)

Also in the basket:

Bulgari expects Q1 loss, CEO says

Workers’ union steps up efforts at Wal-Mart: report

Tesco to show resilience with $4.5 bln profit

General Growth filing clouds future for stores

Gloomy Forecast for Luxury (WWD, subscription required)

(Photo: Reuters)

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