Toys “R” Us Executives Outline TRU Transformation Strategy

toysrusToys “R” Us Inc. executives recently outlined a four-point strategy, entitled TRU Transformation, intended to improve the company’s operational performance. At presentations for investors, industry analysts, and the media this past Wednesday, Toys “R” Us chairman of the board and chief executive officer Antonio Urcelay and president Hank Mullany discussed priorities and actions intended to slow the company’s sales decline, stabilize cash flow, and improve EBITDA to effectively position the company to grow revenue and profits next year and beyond.

“As we look to the future, our strategy will establish a path to sustainable business growth, building upon the company’s unique strengths,” Urcelay said.

TRU Transformation will focus on four key priorities: [Read more...]

NPD Reports Xbox One and PlayStation 4 Powered Video Game Sales

According to the U.S. Games Industry Sales analysis by The NPD Group’s Liam Callahan, February hardware sales increased by 42 percent over the prior year, due to a more than 60 percent increase in console hardware sales. These strong year-over-year increases are due to the success of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

The analysis also showed that total video game sales in February were $887 million, a change of 9 percent compared to February 2013. This is credited to strong growth in hardware and a slight rise in accessory sales. Total software sales—across the console, portable, and PC categories—were [Read more...]

Uncle Milton Sold by Transom Capital Group

As reported by Transom Capital Group, Uncle Milton Industries Inc. has been sold to KCB Management. Founded in 1946, Uncle Milton creates, develops, and markets science and nature-based toys, including the company’s flagship Ant Farm, to children of all ages.

“The strides that Uncle Milton has made under Transom Capital’s ownership cannot be understated,” said Uncle Milton president Frank Adler. “Without a doubt, Transom Capital has been a key strategic sounding board to Uncle Milton’s management team.”

Uncle Milton’s portfolio includes such licensed product lines as the In My Room, Star Wars Science, and National Geographic brands. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. The sale of Uncle Milton represents Transom Capital’s second successful exit during the past 12 months.

Mattel to Acquire Mega Brands

logo_Mattel logoMattel Inc. and Mega Brands Inc. have signed a definitive agreement for Mattel’s acquisition, through a wholly owned subsidiary of Mattel Inc., of Mega Brands for $460 million.

The acquisition advances Mattel’s global growth strategy of building upon its world-class portfolio of brands by expanding into two of the fastest-growing toy categories. Mega Brands is the No. 2 player in the $4 billion construction building sets category with its Mega Bloks brand, as well as a competitor in the $2 billion arts and crafts category.

mega brands logoMattel’s portfolio of brands will complement Mega Brands’ flagship Mega Bloks brand and existing licensed brands, including Halo, Skylanders, Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, Power Rangers, Hello Kitty, and SpongeBob SquarePants. The acquisition will give Mattel the opportunity to broaden its relationship with its entertainment partners.

Mega Brands ranks among the top 15 toy companies globally in terms of sales, according to statistics published by The NPD Group last year. Additionally, the company achieved record sales of preschool construction toys. [Read more...]

Toys “R” Us Reports Holiday 2013 Sales Results

Toys “R” Us Inc. has reported its comparable store net sales for the five- and nine-week periods ending January 4.

For the five-week period, the domestic segment reported a comparable store net sales increase of 1.8 percent. The learning, seasonal, and core toy categories generated the strongest comparable store net sales growth. Internationally, comparable store net sales declined 1.1 percent for the five-week period. Australia, China, and Southeast Asia experienced positive comparable store net sales growth, offset by softness in Japan, Canada, and Europe.

Comparable store net sales for the nine-week period decreased 4.7 percent in the domestic segment and 3 percent in the international segment. The nine-week domestic comparable store net sales change is lower than the five-week change, due mainly to the late timing of Thanksgiving this year versus the prior year, which partially benefitted the current year five-week period. Internationally, Australia, China, and Southeast Asia experienced positive comparable store net sales growth, offset by softness in Japan, Canada, and Europe.

The five-week period refers to December 1, 2013 to January 4, 2014, as compared to December 2, 2012 to January 5, 2013 in the prior year. The nine-week period refers to November 3, 2013 to January 4, 2014, as compared to November 4, 2012 to January 5, 2013 in the prior year.

NPD Group: Cyber Monday Week Toy Sales Are Strong, Up from Last Year

npd_group_logoRetail dollar sales for the toy category were up 23 percent for the Cyber Monday week compared to the same period last year. For the combined Black Friday and Cyber Monday weeks, The NPD Group reports that toy sales were up 12 percent on a dollar basis compared to the previous year. These sales trends include both online and brick and mortar channels.

The NPD Group noted that all 11 super categories it tracks in the toy sector experienced positive dollar sales growth during the period covering Black Friday and Cyber Monday weeks. Those with the highest growth—and their respective change in dollar sales compared with Black Friday and Cyber Monday weeks last year—include plush at 34 percent, youth electronics at 32 percent, arts and crafts at 26 percent, and outdoor and sports at 18 percent. These results reflect brick and mortar and online sales combined.

Ruling Issued in Hasbro Arbitration

Hasbro logoPreviously, inventor licensor Johnson Research had brought claims against Hasbro based on two licensing agreements between the parties. One license agreement related to certain products included in Hasbro’s Super Soaker product line, while the other related to certain products included in Hasbro’s Nerf product line.

Johnson Research claimed that the license agreements require the payment of royalties by Hasbro on a significantly greater number of products in each of those respective product lines than the company believed was the case. The claims related to the Nerf products were pursued by the licensor in binding arbitration in Atlanta as was required by the license.

Johnson Research made a demand for arbitration with respect to the Nerf claims, and on October 29, the arbitrator issued a ruling awarding a total of $72,932,686, including damages, interest, fees and expenses, to the licensor. In connection with this ruling and applicable accounting requirements, Hasbro anticipates taking an additional charge to its earnings for the fiscal quarter that ended September 29. The company is currently assessing the impact to third quarter results and it will be reflected in its Form 10-Q for that same period.

Hasbro Announces 2013 Investor Day Webcast

Hasbro logoHasbro has announced that it will webcast presentations from its Investor Day on September 10 starting at 10 a.m. EST. Among those presenting will be President and CEO Brian Goldner, CFO Deborah Thomas, and Chief Marketing Officer John Frascotti. Each presentation will be followed by a question-and-answer session.

The webcast will be available to investors and media on Hasbro’s Investor Relations home page at http://investor.hasbro.com. A replay of the webcast will be available approximately two hours following the event from the same address.

Virtual Piggy Partners With Innovation First For E-commerce Platform

Virtual Piggy, Inc. has integrated its youth-friendly payment system to Innovation First International, the company behind Hexbug Micro Robotic Creatures and Vex Robotics product lines. Hexbug products are available in more than 4,000 outlets globally including Walmart, Target, Toys “R” Us, RadioShack, and other mass and specialty retailers.

Virtual Piggy is integrated directly into Innovation First International’s Hexbug e-commerce platform to allow direct online and mobile purchases. Virtual Piggy has a standard interface to eBay’s Magento e-commerce platform, which facilitates a simple and rapid integration.

LeapFrog to Webcast First Quarter Results

LeapFrog Enterprises Inc. will webcast its first quarter results conference call on May 2, at 5:30 a.m. PDT, following the release of its financial results.

The live webcast will be available at LeapFrog’s investor relations website at www.leapfroginvestor.com. An archive of the webcast will be available on the web site approximately three hours following completion of the call. To participate in the call, dial (706) 634-0183 and request Conference ID 36439156. A telephonic replay of the call will be available for one month. To access the replay, dial (404) 537-3406 and use Conference ID 36439156.