Washington Socks It to the Toy Biz

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse they’ve gone and devalued the yuan.  Washington politicians may have scored a few points with an undereducated public but it is the consumer, and American import businesses, who will pick up the tab.

This year’s manufacturing contracts are already set so the effects may not be immediately apparent and although a 2% devaluation may seem like small change, many experts are forecasting a devaluation of between 8 – 11% over the next eighteen months.  With Chinese factory costs for labor, electricity and everything else going up, coupled with continuing sky high resin and transportation prices that money is going to have to come from somewhere.  In a “perfect world” those costs would be passed on down the line from factories to importers to retailers and ultimately to the American consumer; in other words – inflation.  What will happen in the real world is likely to be just a little bit different.

With Walmart’s sales being pressured by high oil prices as well as owing to their generally rapacious nature, it’s an easy bet that they will not raise their price points.  It’s a little difficult for me to believe that I would decide not to buy a shiny new widget if it cost $7.99 rather than $6.99, but I guess that’s why I still have to work for a living.  All of those extra widget dollars eventually add up.

With major retailers standing firm it will be between the importers and the Asian manufacturers to battle it out for their already shrunken profit margins.  This will lead them to (and this could be Walmart’s new advertising slogan) “Make do with less!” (Ahem – sort of like Walmart store employees.)  The other course will be to remove pieces and features, use cheaper materials and thinner walls or move manufacturing to Northern China where labor and electricity are cheaper.  For consumers this means less creative, shoddier products with more safety problems that won’t last as long.  Thank you, Walmart!

An example of the new and improved World Friendly Walmart is seen in West Virginia where workers have been ordered to be available to work any shift at any time or face dismissal.  This “open-availability” policy states that “workers who cannot commit to being available for any shift between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m., seven days a week, will be fired by the end of the week.”  So much for daycare, elderly parents, little league games, doctor’s visits, dance recitals, families, communities and anything resembling life as we know it.

In our ever diminishing Department of Good News; California ports have extended their hours and weekends so that all of the goods imported through there should reach their destinations in a timely fashion.  Unlike Walmart employees, dock workers belong to a union which will guarantee them monetary compensation for working odd hours as well as some semblance of a regular schedule.

My summer reading has included James Stewart’s book, Disneywar — although I’d be a little careful about carrying a copy around Southern California.  An alternate title might be Unwarranted Arrogance and Self Puffery for Dummies.  It seems that Disney’s success in creating enduring properties for children can at least partially be explained by the fact that the company is managed by children – very badly behaved children (and I’m talking senior management as well as past and present board members).  For those who enjoyed this tome I’d like to recommend William Golding’s, Lord of the Flies, as further reading.  An illuminating alternative analysis of Disney’s recent courtroom escapades which I copped from the Wall Street Journal editorial page follows.

The days are growing impeccably shorter and summer fun is almost over so it’s time to dust off your crackberry’s, buy new batteries for your laptops and cell phones and get ready to run another weary lap on too little fuel and too little sleep.

Fall Toy Preview is just around the corner.

See you then,

Tom Keoughan

By | August 24th, 2005|ToyJobs Blog|Comments Off on Washington Socks It to the Toy Biz

TRU Future: It Pays To Know Who The Owners Are

The purchase of Toys ‘R’ Us by a combination of two private equity firms and a big realty trust has lead to speculation on what the future of the unit might be.  The best speculation has to begin with identifying exactly who the buyers are.

Vornado Realty is obviously interested in the real estate sitting under the 150 to 200 money-losing and marginal stores which TRU is likely to close in order to boost profitability.  Most of these locations will likely be leased at high prices to fast-growing retailers like Lowe’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, Linens ‘n Things, etc.  In addition, realty trusts (REIT’s) must pay almost all of their earnings out to shareholders in order to qualify for their tax-free status. This means that it is difficult for them to use retained earnings in order to purchase new properties.  Some of the TRU stores that are in very bad locations, and there are many, will likely be sold outright to fuel Vornado’s war chest.

Private equity firms generally like to get their money out in a four to six year time frame.  As a growth vehicle, Babies ‘R’ Us will likely be taken public in three or four years at a high multiple to earnings.  Keep in mind that infant supplies are a high traffic driver and no one likes to drive traffic like Walmart.  They could decide to seriously enter the baby business at any time and a repeat of TRU’s toy business saga could easily follow.  The envisioned Babies ‘R’ Us offering to investors is likely to be a big windfall for KKR and Bain Capital, but a big mistake for investors.

Before discussing the toy division, it is time to give credit where credit is due.  Here at Toyjobs Monthly, we have frequently lambasted The Dude for his ineffectual management of TRU’s business.  While we still feel that this has been the case, he should be applauded for getting top dollar for TRU shareholders (including himself of course).  His legacy is likely to be that he was more successful at selling the company than he was at selling toys.  It is now time for him to ride into the sunset with saddlebags full and leave the business of management in more capable hands. 

We are hoping that those hands will continue to be those of John Barbour.  John has been successful at every job he’s ever had.  Of those, this will be the toughest.  Mr. Barbour has voiced a desire to see a return to innovation in the toy business.  He also has spent most of his career on the manufacturer’s side of the table and it is hoped that he will partner with, rather than pound, on his vendors.

Under private equity ownership, success is likely to be measured differently.  Walmart and Target are not going away.  But a leaner TRU, after shedding its weaker stores and with a sound retail strategy, should be able to become a cash cow.  As a public company, success was all about growth and growth is difficult in a mature business.  Under private equity ownership, the spinning off of large amounts of cash would be a very good thing indeed.  After the cash machine is streamlined in five or six years it could be either sold off to a major (foreign?)  retailer (not likely) or another private equity group (more likely) or even kept (less likely).  In any case, we envision current ownership and hopefully management being in place for five or six years. 

In other major retail news, Walmart critics are having a field day.  Did Tom Coughlin simply steal $500,000 from Big W or, as he claims, was the money used in a secret anti-union slush fund reminiscent of the Nixon era?  My take is that this is not necessarily an either/or situation and that it is quite possible that both are true.  We note with interest that Walmart froze approximately 30 million worth of Coughlin’s retirement benefits but only after he publicly stated that his defense would be that the bogus expenses and gift cards were reimbursement for Walmart’s secret anti-union campaign.  Is this an attempt to pressure Coughlin to take the hit to his reputation in order to regain what is likely the bulk of his fortune?

Walmart says that its internal review turned up no evidence that Coughlin had used the money in anti-union activities.  Well, duh, wasn’t that the point?  Coughlin used to be Walmart’s Chief of Security and it wouldn’t surprise me if he had documentation buried under a rock somewhere as an insurance policy.  I also find it deeply suspicious that a company famous for its systems and controls on everything let a half million dollars just walk out the door.  On the other hand, it is a little difficult to believe that Walmart and Coughlin paid off union spies with hunting rifles, dog fences on Coughlin’s property and cowboy boots custom made for Coughlin’s feet.  He will undoubtedly claim that this was part of some reimbursement scheme but it sounds a bit fishy to me.  At this point we are anxious to hear Coughlin’s defense and open to see if he has compelling evidence that he was doing black bag work at Walmart’s behest. 

As for Coughlin, in the end he will likely be viewed as a powerful person run amok for what, in the context of his position and net worth, was chump change.  It never ceases to amaze me how cheaply some people are willing to sell their integrity.  It can take twenty years to build a reputation and only a week or two to tear one down.  As this story unfolds, there are likely to be no winners and two losers. 

Most toy manufacturers that we have been talking to have voiced frustration (and worse) to retailers’ refusal to let them push through price increases despite higher costs for oil, resin, transportation, electricity in China, etc.  The retail attitude seems to be “We want OUR prices and OUR margins – take it out of your end!”  Charming.  This has lead manufacturers to take plastic and features out of products which curbs innovation, jeopardizes product quality and consumer safety.  Some have even cancelled orders as they have become unprofitable.

Here at Toyjobs Monthly, we may have stumbled onto a solution.  Walmart’s earnings have been increasing an average of 17% annually over the last five years and are forecasted to grow an annual average of 15% over the next five.  However, the company’s share price is actually less than it was in 2000.  For the last five years the company’s P/E ratio has been in the mid thirties but now stands at 18X 2005 estimated earnings.

Walmart’s stock is cheap and not likely to remain so over the long haul.  Our proposed solution is to take the nickels and dimes that you’re able to squeeze out of Big W and invest them in the company’s shares.  That may be the best way to make money from Walmart.

In this issue, we have provided comprehensive prognostication on the future of China’s economy and a Readers’ Digest version of what Sergio Zyman is likely to say at the coming Kid Power Conference for anyone who either won’t be in attendance or is looking for a way to slip out early for a round of golf.

All the best,

Tom Keoughan

By | April 27th, 2005|ToyJobs Blog|Comments Off on TRU Future: It Pays To Know Who The Owners Are

A Tale of Two Toy Fairs

Two toy fairs occurred in February of 2005.  At the Javits Toy Fair, most of the specialty manufacturers were very upbeat as some long absent retailers returned to sacrifice their feet to the world’s hardest floors.  Just as importantly, manufacturers were writing orders.  The majority of company presidents that I spoke with wrote enough business to more than pay for the show.

Back at the Toy Building (for now) there was mostly grousing along the lines of “what are we even doing here.  None of the majors are here.”  Upon closer questioning, however, it did turn out that most companies’ schedules were pretty full.  I don’t know about you, but with such a large percentage of the business being done by three or four majors at low profit margins, I’d be trying like hell to diversify my account base.  A company can live by Walmart one year but die by them the next.   With a well diversified account base (re: small, pesky accounts with higher margins) especially if you can sell them enough to cover your company SG&A, you can live to fight another day.  Also, although Walmart wasn’t at the show, some of the more aggressive manufacturers did make inroads by selling to Walmart.com.

What will become of the October and February Toy Fairs in the future?  There is so much rumor, insider gossip and white noise out there that at least at this point it’s safe to say that nobody really knows.  One thing we can all hope for is that we won’t have to schlep to Orlando – a completely artificial land made up entirely of bad food, plastic and foam.  I’ve lived my entire life without ever setting foot in Orlando and am not anxious to start now.  As for maintaining trade shows in Manhattan, I’m all for it – but it seems a shame that so much time and effort is being spent on a glimmer of a hope for a Toy Building over on the West Side which may be built by 2012, if New York gets the Olympics, or if there’s a new football stadium that no one needs, if, if, if…Such things are pipedreams and fiascos made of.  Manhattan supporters and the toy industry as a whole would be better supported by focusing this energy on finding a building that actually exists and isn’t in the middle of nowhere. 

Two of the major toy retailers had pretty good fourth quarters in 2004.  Target had strong same store sales growth while Walmart had 9% overall sales growth and a 16% profit surge.  Walmart’s same store sales were hurt by continuing to cannibalize their own sales by opening a flurry of new stores in the quarter.  Interestingly, Walmart’s CFO has at long last finally stated that the company should be judged by total sales and profits rather than same store comparisons.  Toys ‘R’ Us muddled along with a year that can best be described as “less bad.”  As for KB – gee, do we really still count KB?

In WALMART UNIONIZATION news it should come as no surprise that Walmart closed the Quebec store which had voted to unionize.  Walmart Canada spokesthingie Andrew Pelletier stated “we have been unable to reach an agreement with the union that in our view would allow the store to operate efficiently and profitably.”  No mention was made of how much Mr. Pelletier’s salary has cost the company or of how many productive employees might have been retained had Mr. Pelletier’s labors been judged on efficiency and profitability.  With regard to a second Quebec store whose employees are considering UNIONIZATION; the Quebec Government Labor Relations Board told Walmart Canada to stop intimidating employees who wished to unionize.  The Quebec Board apparently carries little weight in the great state of Colorado where Walmart successfully intimidated employees who had called for election into then voting down their opportunity to unionize. 

At Toys ‘R’ Us, The Dude and the board continue in their bungling ways.  It’s almost too incredible to believe that they thought they could sell off the sagging domestic toy division and then sneak off with the good stuff.  Apparently, they never considered that a sophisticated buyer might want to buy and hold Babies ‘R’ Us while disposing of the toy group and real estate to finance the deal.  This type of thing happens when you hire a very pretty tropical fish who believes, and then convinces you, that he can swim with the sharks.  Then again, the TRU share price has just about doubled so maybe he’s sharkier than he appears.

We applaud recent comments made by TRU toy group president John Barbour in which he calls for both greater innovation and less commodization in the toy business.  One can’t help but hope that he’s able to shake himself loose of The Dude and then walk the walk as well as get his computer jockeys (buyers) to do the same.  If he can pull it off, TRU and the toy industry as a whole just might stand a chance.

All the best,

Tom Keoughan

By | March 15th, 2005|ToyJobs Blog|Comments Off on A Tale of Two Toy Fairs

Toyjobs Posts Second Best Year Ever

Toyjobs posted its second best year out of 23 in 2004 (the best being 2000).  During the first half of the year, there were abundant search starts but companies were reluctant to pull the trigger on hiring someone even once they had identified the candidate they wanted.  That left us at about 38% of where we like to be for the first six months.  This changed in July as we posted our best single month ever.  Both search starts and hiring accelerated through the end of the year and are likely to continue doing so in 2005.

Our long stated hypothesis has been that companies cut not only fat, but muscle and bone during the economic lean years of 2001-2003.  During 2004, the economy turned; 3.2 million new jobs were created — the strongest performance since 1999.  While toy industry recovery has been much more muted, recent estimates are that traditional toy sales fell approximately 5% industry wide owing to structural changes initially driven by Walmart’s use of toys as a loss leader — manufacturers had squeezed their staffs to the point where they just couldn’t get the work done.  This was exacerbated by retailers’ demands that toy manufacturers do an ever increasing amount of their work for them. 

Most of this hiring came from small and mid sized firms.  The big four (Mattel, Hasbro, Lego and Leapfrog) appear to be in crisis.  Some of this is due to the law of large numbers, i.e. it is very hard to add 15% sales growth annually when you are as big as they are.  For three of the aforementioned groups another problem is that they are public companies.  No matter how many times they tell Wall Street that they are steady 10-15% growing consumer brand companies, they are not (the wants and whims of children are notoriously fickle.)  The toy industry is a fashion business and neither Mattel nor Hasbro is P&G.  Large publicly traded toy companies end up being forced to make short term decisions in order to support their share price at the expense of growing their business in the long run.  There is also a strong tendency to play it safe and you don’t win in a fashion business by playing defense. 

All of this creates opportunity for small and medium companies who have good, innovative products and are nimble enough to operate the way that retailers want them to.  Unfortunately, retailers have their hand on the spigot and the word “partnership” no longer appears to be in their vocabulary.  Toy manufacturers have been telling us that despite higher costs (resin, oil, transportation, electricity in China, etc.) they are finding it very difficult to push through price increases.  Retailers are demanding that their prices to the consumer remain static and want their 55% margins as well.  One of the few solutions for manufacturers is to move production into North China, but there are some fears that this may lead to quality control problems.  Another solution is to pray that the price of oil comes down, but only after deal sheets are written. 

Toy building rumors abound.  With the sale set to close in March, management is not accepting new leases.  Only the building’s exterior and lobby are protected by their landmark status and the main scuttlebutt is that 200 5th Avenue will be converted into condos and 1107 either condos or possibly a hotel.  The big question is when?  What I’m hearing is that the toy building will continue to be the toy building through February Toy Fair 2006, but after that, all bets are off.  Also, after the deal closes, I hear that new ownership plans to slash toy show budgets and generally make the building an unattractive place to do business in an attempt to push down the prices which they will have to pay out to existing leaseholders.  How charming.

Finally, as is well known by both politicians and advertisers, if you repeat something often enough, it becomes true.  Perception becomes reality.  Just when we thought we deserved a rest after an election year of misinformation spewing out of both political parties, Walmart has stepped into the breach.  We reprint a letter below from Ray Bracy, Walmart’s VP International and Public Affairs which is sure to set your eyes a-rolling (privately, of course).  To hear Walmart tell it, they are worker friendly, union friendly, women friendly, benefits friendly, supplier friendly, and well liked by both children and animals.  Certainly we all know better than that and, I for one, have little doubt that they squeeze their employees as relentlessly as they squeeze their suppliers.  Of particular interest is their claim of “unions, we are not against them.”  Chain Store Age (January 15, 2005) reports that in Quebec, where employees of two Walmart stores have elected to unionize that Andrew Pelletier, spokesman for Walmart Canada, said “the company is reviewing all of its options including a legal challenge.”  Of course, Walmart’s low prices remain irresistible, especially to the working poor, many of whom … work at Walmart — a modern riff on “I Owe My Soul to the Company Store.”  All toy manufacturers should secretly wish for unionization to sweep Walmart, thereby putting them on a more even playing field with other retailers.  Unionization would have a particular effect on the grocery business where Walmart has the ability to undercut prices of traditional supermarkets which are unionized.  Low grocery prices have driven the average Walmart shopper to increase store visits from 1.5 times per month to about one per week.  Once in the store buying groceries, consumers buy other things as well, thereby increasing sales and decreasing the marginal cost of operations.  In the retail space anything that leads to a more multipolar world is good for everyone.  Walmart Unionization…say it again.  Walmart Unionization…say it again.  Walmart Unionization…say it again.  Walmart Unionization…

All the best,

Tom Keoughan

By | February 2nd, 2005|ToyJobs Blog|Comments Off on Toyjobs Posts Second Best Year Ever

Turmoil in Toyland…So What Else is New?

Toy industry turmoil continues with KB Toys preparing to close over 200 stores.  The toy division of Toys R’ Us is up for sale and any buyer’s also likely to close somewhere near 200 stores.  Walmart had a Thanksgiving weekend mini-stumble, but lets not shed too many tears, they were quickly back with a vengeance.  Actually, it’s sort of nice to see that they’re not completely infallible.

On a brighter note, the Kmart-Sears tie up should create a stronger although still weak competitor and there is a very good possibility of much increased toy inventory on all those Sears shelves.  We can argue all night about geopolitics (come to think of it, we probably have) but in the retail space, anything that leads to a more multipolar world is good for everyone.

It seems likely that toy manufacturers will be able to push through some moderate price hikes for 2005.  That even as we can envision manufacturing costs coming down somewhat due to lower oil, resin and transportation prices.  This seems to add up to lower sales volume but wider margins for the coming year. 

Through all this, toy industry hiring has continued unabated.  Here at Toyjobs, we are in the process of posting our second best year out of twenty-three.  Going forward, successful companies will have to be nimble, smart and retain the very best people.

Here’s to a happy and profitable Holiday Season,

Tom Keoughan

By | December 15th, 2004|ToyJobs Blog|Comments Off on Turmoil in Toyland…So What Else is New?

Total Turmoil in Toyland

Let’s see, what hasn’t happened in the last four weeks? Toy shows always bring out plenty of news, rumor and innuendo but this time it’s a little hard to keep up.

We opened with the bankruptcy announcements by Applause, Fun 4 All, Hedstrom, and Huffy and from there moved on to poor earnings announcements at Mattel, Hasbro and Leapfrog. Then there was Hit Entertainment’s dismissal of CEO and chief architect Rob Lawes. Add to this KB Toys announcement that it will be shutting close to 200 stores after Christmas and the discovery that TRU’s toy division is being actively shopped (although TRU isn’t saying much, maybe they’ve gotten just a little bit smarter). Also, the Toy Building has been put up for sale – something they forgot to mention at their cocktail party.

Then there are the lawsuits. The World Wrestling suit against Jakks Pacific, Stanley Shenker, Bell Licensing et al looks particularly nasty. It will be interesting to see how that plays out. Allegations are easy to make especially when there are lots of big egos involved. They can be much more difficult to prove even if true. I certainly have no way of knowing what if anything happened, but it will be interesting to watch.

Then there is the lawsuit that Mattel has filed against Ron Brawer because he didn’t care to work for them any more and found himself another job. This appears to be a nuisance suit as apparently Mr. Brawer had no non-compete or confidentiality agreement with Mattel. Never in my life did I think I’d find myself on the same side of an argument as Isaac Larian, but Mattel is really screwing up here.

If a hypothetical company, let’s call it “Stalag El Segundo” were hypothetically to start having current and former employees followed by private detectives, were to submit their current employees to grillings by teams of attorneys, were to install security cameras in many of its offices, were to begin heavily monitoring employee phone bills, e-mail and computer activity; if a hypothetical company were hypothetically to do all that, my twenty three years experience as an executive recruiter tells me that they are likely to get results that they did not intend. That companies employees might be cowed for a month or two but in such a stifling environment would quickly decide to head for the exits. It’s the sort of thing that brings joy to a headhunter’s heart.

After rehashing all that, the following may seem counterintuitive but the October Toy Show was pretty upbeat. While some people complained about the lack of hall traffic, that’s not the type of show it is. Of the approximately thirty toy company presidents that I talked to, most felt that the show was very productive. Also surprising is that toy industry hiring continues at a torrid pace.

Too many things are happening too fast to have a fully developed thirty minute answer as to why this is so (sorry, sitcom watchers). It may be that we are finally at a tipping point. Much has been said in the last couple of years in this space and everywhere else about how Walmart’s drive to use toys as loss leaders has structurally changed the business. We may now be at the point where the market is choosing winners and losers. In the current environment it is very hard to be a winner, it is also very good to be a winner. Even more difficult than being a winner is to be average and still survive. In other words, it has started to get mean out there. Companies that are developing new and flexible strategies and successfully executing them and adapting to a rapidly changing reality are moving ahead. Companies that are unable to see the changes, plan for the changes or execute on their plans have begun to and will continue to fall by the wayside.

I know the message is not particularly cheery, but it’s definitely time to toughen up.

All the best,
Tom Keoughan

By | November 2nd, 2004|ToyJobs Blog|Comments Off on Total Turmoil in Toyland

Help Wanted: Major Toy Retailer Seeks Successful Strategy

The feedback that we’re getting on the mood in Hong Kong is that manufacturers are not so much cautiously optimistic as much relieved that 2003 is finally over. There seems to be an element of “It’s got to be better than the last three years.” Barring any unforeseen geopolitical normally be true but (and it’s a big but) Wal-Mart clearly has its eyes firmly fixed on competing toy retailers and is slowly squeezing the life out of them. Once that is accomplished it’s anybody’s guess as to who they’ll squeeze next.

Most retailers, excluding toy retailers, had a very strong holiday sales season with the flawed measure of comparable store sales at most of them up over 4%. Total sales for most were up well into the double digits. For toy retailers, on the other hand, the season was disastrous. FAO finally ground to a halt and will likely poke its head up with new ownership and an extremely scaled back presence. The KB situation smells a bit like a company that didn’t really have to declare Chapter 11 but is using bankruptcy laws as part of a corporate strategy to stiff their vendors and weasel out of leases. Total sales were down at Kmart, but that’s easily attributable to having fewer stores. More importantly, they were profitable so at least it appears that they are being managed properly.

The linchpin is Toys ‘R’ Us. While the reduced number of stores at FAO and KB should clearly benefit TRU, they have Wal-Mart camped at their front door like a big cat, well fed but still hungry for more. TRU had lousy sales numbers, weakening margins and their debt was cut to junk status by Standard and Poors. I would look for them to be very demanding on the markdown money department. “We’ve had a lousy year and you’re going to pay for it.” Of greater long term concern is that thus far, corporate strategy seems to be exactly wrong with little sign of any new clear thinking. Will management be able to come up with a new strategy that can succeed against big W? Or will the focus continue to be on new corporate headquarters and sculptural boondoggles. Is it better to have no strategy at all or to have a bad one and be driving hard down that wrong road? These philosophical questions will certainly be much discussed over late night cocktails in cold February New York. I can almost hear the fiddling even as I whiff the strong smell of smoke.

See you in New York,
Tom Keoughan

By | January 19th, 2004|ToyJobs Blog|Comments Off on Help Wanted: Major Toy Retailer Seeks Successful Strategy


It’s sweat and fingernail biting time for toy manufacturers and there’s not much you can do but pray for strong sell through.  Short term indicators have brought on wild mood swings from the post Thanksgiving high to the Northeastern retail whiteout of this past weekend.  One would expect the coming weekend to be a big one at retail.  Of course long-term figures are better at telling the trend and November sales numbers generally looked pretty good.

In a disturbing trend; I’m hearing a lot of complaints about Wal-Mart and Target not restocking their shelves.  Apparently the high ticket logistics systems show that the product is there but the employees haven’t been motivated to get it out of the trailers in the back of the parking lot.  Maybe if the Big W paid their “associates” a little better they would be nutritionally able to work with an increased level of vigor.  Uncharacteristically, this year I haven’t heard these types of restocking stories about Toys ‘R’ Us, but maybe people have just given up complaining.  One thing for sure is that even with products locked in trailers, retailers will have their hands in your pockets for markdown money come January.

FAO crumbles, Imaginarium falls by the wayside and Wal-Mart seems to have its eyes on Toys ‘R’ Us next.  Despite what that TV giraffe says, it’s no longer the toy superstore.  Vendors and SKU’s have been narrowed to the point where inventory is pretty much the same as Wal-Mart’s who has better pricing and the consumer is already going there anyway.  Now with brutal discounting beginning even before Halloween, it’s not hard to imagine Geoffrey whistling past the pet cemetery.

Gee, sorry to be so gloomy.  The economy is picking up and we can always hope that Wal-Mart squeezes its employees so hard that they unionize and the Big W looses its pricing advantage.  Now there’s a cheery thought!


Happy Holidays,
Tom Keoughan

By | December 10th, 2003|ToyJobs Blog|Comments Off on FAO, IMAGINARIUM, WHO’S NEXT?