April 06, 2010

Report: U.S. Retail e-Commerce to Grow Nearly 13 Percent

According to a revised eMarketer forecast, U.S. retail e-commerce sales (excluding travel, digital downloads, and event tickets) will grow by 12.7 percent in 2010 to $152.1 billion. eMarketer estimates that in 2014, online sales will reach $233.9 billion, with a growth rate of 8.2 percent due to “maturation of the online sales channel.” The revised forecast follows the U.S. Census Bureau’s recent news that online sales in Q4 2009 grew 14.6 percent over the year earlier, the biggest gain in eight quarters.
The eMarketer report also estimates that online retail and online travel sales will total $244.6 billion in 2010 and grow at a 9 percent compound annual rate from 2009 to 2014. According to the report, 162 million Americans will research products online. More than 82 percent of online researchers (133 million people) will be online buyers.

New Children’s Retail Chain to Launch

According to GlobeSt.com, former Wal-Mart executive Bill Colaianni and venture capitalist Shane Christensen are planning to launch a new retail chain that will cater to children. Later this year, the duo will launch the first 135,000-square-foot Wonder! Store in Chicago. The store, which will cater to children up to 7 years old, will sell items such as clothing, strollers, diapers, and toys, and feature a selling space of 85,000 square feet, party rooms, an indoor park as large as a football field, and a healthy restaurant and coffee shop for adults.
Colaianni, CEO of the company, hopes to open 19 Wonder! stores in five years, and up to 120 stores nationwide. The company has raised $4 million to start the chain, but needs another $10 million for the first four stores by 2013. Sears Holdings is sub-leasing the property for the first store.

Greenzys Launches Exclusively at FAO

GreenzysGreenzys, a new eco-friendly literary-based children’s brand that is environmentally friendly and educational, will launch exclusively at FAO Schwarz for “Earth Month” in April. Greenzys, which encompasses books and plush toys, will be available solely at FAO Schwarz Fifth Avenue and online at FAO.com throughout the month and will also be featured in the store’s window displays.
The books are authored by Danielle Mentzer, author of Plucked Duck. Greenzys characters are also available as eco-friendly plush toys by Kids Preferred. 
A portion of every Greenzys purchase will benefit the non-profit Environmental Media Association (www.ema-online.org). Also, each Greezys toy purchased between April 5 and December 31 will support the Arbor Day Foundation with the planting of a tree in our nation's forests. 
There is also a Greezys preschool TV series in development. For an advance look at the Greenzys, please visit www.greenzys.com.

University Games Partners for Michael Jackson Line

Michael JacksonBravado, a global music merchandising company, has completed an agreement with University Games whereby the company will create a signature line of games, puzzles, and Colorforms for Michael Jackson. University Games will roll out an authentic puzzle collection replicating iconic images from albums and live performances. The first wave of products will launch in 2010 in the U.S., Canada, the UK, and Europe.




Report: Retail Container Ports to Increase by 8 Percent This Month

The National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates expect import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports to increase by 8 percent this month, compared to April 2009. The forecast was released as part of the groups’ monthly Global Port Tracker report.
U.S. ports handled 1.01 million 20-foot Equivalent Units (TEU) in February, down 6 percent from January but up 20 percent from February 2009. One TEU equals one 20-foot cargo container.
March was estimated at 1.02 million TEU, a 6 percent increase over last year; April is
forecasted at 1.07 million TEU, up 8 percent from last year; May at 1.12 million TEU, up 7 percent; June at 1.18 million TEU, up 17 percent; July at 1.24 million TEU, up 12 percent; and August at 1.32 million TEU, up 15 percent. In total, the first half of 2010 is estimated to total 6.5 million TEU, up 10 percent but down from the 17 percent increase projected a month ago.

Silly Pants to Distribute Schoolhouse Naturals Products in Canada

Maple LandmarkMaple Landmark, manufacturer of American-made wooden toys, gifts, and games, has partnered with Silly Pants, Inc. of Canada for the distribution of Maple Landmark's Schoolhouse Naturals products. The distribution deal covers specialty toy and gift stores across Canada.
The Schoolhouse Naturals line includes rattles, building blocks, simple trucks, teethers, and ABC blocks that are crafted from harvested native hardwood maple and have no finish. Schoolhouse Naturals products are targeted to children under 3, the group with the highest propensity for putting objects in their mouth.

Madame Alexander Doll Club Convention to Be Held in St. Louis

The Madame Alexander Doll Club will hold its annual convention from June 23-26 in St. Louis, MO. The 2010 convention, themed “Meet Me in St. Louis,” will feature all of the traditional club convention activities and a special speech by Gale Jarvis, president of Alexander Doll Company, Inc. and St. Louis native. Jarvis will keep attendees up to date on news from the Madame Alexander doll world.
Convention guests will have the opportunity to attend seminars and workshops, participate in design competitions, enter to win Madame Alexander dolls, and attend the Meet Me at the Fair Cissette dinner. Other activities include an interactive display of five St. Louis landmarks, the Parade of Living Dolls, and a workshop for designing and creating doll clothes.
Registration for the convention, held at the Sheraton Westport Lakeside Chalet hotel, is open to the public. Information can be found online at www.madc.org/convention.htm.

Madame Alexander

Patch Products Hires Product Development Vet as VP

Patch Products has hired Ron Hayes as corporate vice president of product development, design, and engineering. Hayes has more than 30 years of experience in the industry, serving in executive positions such as vice president of product development for Spin Master, head of product development and manufacturing at Sabba Toys, vice president of Warner Bros. Toys, and senior vice president of boys’ toy design and development at Kenner/Hasbro.

Fairfax Buys 19.7% Stake in MEGA Brands

Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited announces that further to the recapitalization of MEGA Brands Inc., Fairfax has acquired 64,668,000 common shares of MEGA and 64,668,000 common share purchase warrants of MEGA, each warrant entitling the holder to purchase one common share at a price of $0.50 at any time until March 30, 2015. The company says that 51,610,000 common shares and 51,610,000 warrants were acquired through a private placement and 13,058,000 common shares and 13,058,000 warrants were acquired as part of the consideration for the cancellation of $64 million principal amount of outstanding convertible debentures previously held by Fairfax.
The 64,668,000 common shares acquired by Fairfax represent approximately 19.7 percent of the total outstanding MEGA common shares. The acquisition of an additional 64,668,000 common shares pursuant to the exercise of the warrants would increase Fairfax's percentage holding of common shares of MEGA to approximately 33 percent (assuming that no other warrants are exercised). Except for the common shares and warrants acquired in this purchase, Fairfax does not own or control any other voting or equity securities of MEGA.
Fairfax says the shares and warrants were purchased for investment purposes.

MEGA Brands Reports Q4 and 2009 Results

MEGA Brands, Inc. has announced its financial results for the fourth quarter and full year ended December 31, 2009. (All figures are expressed in U.S. dollars.)
Net earnings in 2009 were $10.7 million, or $0.29 per share, compared to a net loss of $458.7 million, or $12.53 per share, in 2008. Net sales decreased to $338.9 million, compared to $447.7 million in 2008. For the fourth quarter, net loss was $22.1 million, or $0.60 per share, compared to a net loss of $323.3 million, or $8.83 per share, in the same 2008 period. Net sales increased 6 percent to $107.3 million, compared to $101.0 million in the corresponding period in 2008. This increase is the first positive variance in year-over-year net sales since the first quarter of 2007.

Kids Brands Reports Q4 and 2009 Results

Kid Brands, Inc., formerly known as Russ Berrie and Company, Inc., has reported financial results for the fourth quarter and full year ended December 31, 2009.
Net sales for Q4 2009 increased 21.7 percent to $67.6 million, as compared to $55.5 million for the quarter ended December 31, 2008. Net sales for FY 2009 increased 6.4 percent to $243.9 million, as compared to $229.2 million for FY 2008. The sales increase resulted primarily from the inclusion of $26.7 million of sales from LaJobi and CoCaLo in the first quarter of 2009, which were not included in the comparable period in 2008, as well as sales growth for the remainder of the year at LaJobi and CoCaLo, partially offset by the termination of Sassy's MAM Agreement, which accounted for $22.0 million of sales in 2008 that did not recur in 2009.
Net income for FY 2009 was $11.7 million, or $0.54 per diluted share, compared to a net loss of $111.6 million, or ($5.23) per diluted share, for FY 2008.

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