TIA President and CEO Carter Keithley to Retire

Carter Keithley has announced that he will retire as president and CEO of the Toy Industry Association (TIA) effective April 30, 2015, after nearly a decade of leadership with the trade organization. As reported by the TIA, he announced his retirement on May 7, at the TIA Board of Directors meeting held in Scottsdale, Ariz.

“My years as chief executive of the Toy Industry Association were the highlight of my 40-year career as an association executive,” stated Keithley. “My only regret is that I did not come to TIA as a younger man able to sustain the pace and workload for a longer time. As I enter my 70th year of life, it is time for me to pass the baton to someone with fresh energy, vision, and ambition, so that TIA can continue to serve its members and support the growth and health of the toy industry.”

Keithley assumed his role in May 2006 during a period of upheaval for TIA and the industry. The Toy Center Buildings, located in midtown Manhattan, were closing after serving for many years as the site of New York Toy Fair. Barely a year into Keithley’s term, the toy industry was faced with yet another crisis when hundreds of playthings were recalled by the U.S. government. [Read more...]

TIA Elects New Leadership at 2014 Annual Business Meeting

March5.TIAThe Toy Industry Association (TIA) has elected three new members to its Board of Directors and a new chairman of the organization during its Annual Business Meeting in February. John Gessert of American Plastic Toys will assume the position as chairman for a year, replacing retiring Board Chairman Soren Torp Laursen of The Lego Group

The new members of the TIA Board are Drew Brazer, vice president of sales in North America for Lego Systems Inc.; D. Hugo Malan, senior vice president and president of sporting goods at Sears Holding Corp.; and William To, president of VTech Electronics in North America. Each elected member will serve for two-year terms, expiring at the 2016 TIA Annual Business Meeting. Laursen will become an advisor to the governance body.

The 2014 TIA Annual Business Meeting was held in conjunction with the 111th American International Toy Fair in New York City. The meeting also included accomplishment highlights from the first year of TIA’s 2013-2015 Strategic Plan and an announcement that the TIA had grown its financial reserves last year.

Interview with Lego President Soren Torp Laursen

The Toy Book spoke with Soren Torp Laursen, president of the Lego Group, about the state of the construction toys category and how Lego is adapting to trends.

The Toy Book: Building sets saw a 23 percent increase in sales from 2011 to 2012, according to the NPD Group. And the category is the strongest toy category right now. Why has the construction category taken off over the past couple of years?

LEGO_LogoSoren Torp Laursen: Building is the best and most versatile play experience available to children, and it is our DNA. Our single brand status has given us the focus and discipline to offer the best quality material and grow our business—and the category along with it. Our momentum has been strong over the last eight years, which furthers our ability to invest in expanding the brand to invite new users and drive continued growth. Parents and children alike recognize the lasting value and versatility of a Lego building experience, which is why we strive to meet their evolving needs with Lego solutions. We don’t see that different play patterns need to be discreet experiences, and fortunately, our brand’s versatility allows us to adapt compelling play patterns to the building sets category, such as action figures, dolls and play sets, vehicles, and gaming. By changing the way we approach what constitutes a building experience, without fundamentally changing what makes it a Lego experience, we continue to deliver relevant, yet familiar, Lego products that are driving industry growth.  

TB: What are some of the biggest trends you’ve noticed in the construction category recently?

STL: Perhaps the biggest trend in building sets at the moment is licensing, which seems to be increasing as other players seek to establish or grow their businesses. Building sets is an incredibly tough toy category to enter, establish, and sustain, therefore it is not for dabblers. Being a player requires costly complexities in molding and supply chain operations, plus research and development to be relevant and broad enough to attract a sustainable fan base, which we have found comes not only from single event-based properties, but from a wide variety of original and licensed themes that appeal to any child of any age. [Read more...]