Propel Equity Partners, a private equity firm, has acquired Buzz Bee Toys, which specializes in active play toys. The acquisition marks the eighth by Propel Equity since August of 2012 on behalf of Alex Brands. Buzz Bee Toys will join the Alex Brands family of brands, which includes Alex Toys, Poof, Slinky, Scientific Explorer, and more.
Alex Brands has signed a licensing agreement with Nickelodeon to manufacture, distribute, and market a broad array of products based on popular characters including SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora and Friends, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
The multi-year agreement covers multiple brands from Alex Brands including Alex Toys and Shrinky Dinks, as well as product categories such as craft kits and bath toys. Alex Brands will launch more than 30 new Nickelodeon products during North American International Toy Fair, which runs from February 14 to 17 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. The items will be available to consumers starting late summer.
Alex Brands has named toy industry veteran Neil Friedman as its president and CEO. Friedman, who joined Alex Brands’ board of directors earlier this year, was most recently president of the U.S. division at Toys “R” Us. He was also previously president at Mattel Brands, Fisher-Price Brands, Tyco Preschool, and MCA/Universal Merchandising. Friedman is a member of the Toy Industry Hall of Fame and the International Licensing Industry Merchandiser’s Association’s Hall of Fame.
“This is a unique opportunity to work with some of the most iconic and highly recognizable brands in the industry,” says Friedman. “In the time that I have been associated with Alex Brands, I have been extremely impressed by the company’s accomplishments, vision, and growth plans. I am most looking forward to using my experience and expertise to help this company realize the incredible opportunities that lie before it.”
Alex Brands is expanding its operational footprint with the opening of a new worldwide headquarters and customer showroom in Fairfield, N.J.; a state-of-the-art distribution center in Woodbridge, N.J.; and expanded warehouse capacity in its Canton, Mich., distribution center.
The company’s new worldwide headquarters in Fairfield, N.J., covers 30,000 square feet, and houses the majority of the senior leadership, sales, marketing, purchasing, and compliance teams. It also features more than 4,000 square feet of showroom space, an in-house design center, and a photography and film studio. Along with fostering a collaborative team atmosphere, the new space will serve as a hub for the company’s product development team.
Alex Brands has also made significant investments in expanding its distribution capabilities, with the new Woodbridge, N.J., distribution center adding 300,000 square feet of space. The facility also provides direct-to-consumer fulfillment capabilities to support the company’s rapidly growing e-commerce initiative.
The company also doubled the warehouse space at its Canton, Mich., distribution center. The new facilities are expected to create job opportunities for local communities in Fairfield, Woodbridge, and Canton.