Source: Build-A-Bear Workshop

Build-A-Bear Workshop kicked off 2021 with a massive, 95.4% sales increase over 2020 and a 10.1% increase over 2019. The mall-based retailer of customizable, “furry friends” dealt with numerous challenges throughout the pandemic due to the closure of its physical stores. Sales in Q1 rose to $89.2 million, up from $45.6 million last year.

“We delivered one of the strongest first quarters in our company’s nearly 25-year history including a 96.7% increase in total revenues compared to the fiscal 2020 first quarter and an 8.7% increase versus the fiscal 2019 period,” says Build-A-Bear Workshop President and CEO Sharon Price John. “We grew pre-tax income to $13.2 million — an improvement of $31.9 million compared to the loss in the prior year’s quarter — and $10.8 million compared to the 2019 period. We saw sales growth in both our brick-and-mortar stores and digital channels even with our locations in Europe temporarily closed for the majority of the period due to local COVID-19 restrictions.”

The strong growth in Build-A-Bear Workshop’s business is despite continued closures of locations associated with the company’s third-party retail model, which includes partnerships with Carnival Cruise Lines, Great Wolf Lodge Resorts, Landry’s and Beaches Family Resorts that were closed for all or part of the first quarter.

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“We believe the improvement in sales was driven by the strength of the emotional connection that has kept Build-A-Bear a desired and relevant brand, strong merchandise mix, and improved digital marketing programs along with the benefit of the stimulus package and pent-up consumer demand,” Price John says. “As we look forward, we believe the initiatives and investments that were put in place prior to the pandemic, and in many cases accelerated during the pandemic, are delivering improved results, which we expect to continue. While trends may moderate as the year progresses, thus far, sales in the current second quarter have remained strong, providing us the confidence to increase our profit guidance for this fiscal year.”

Build-A-Bear Workshop recently hit a milestone as it surpassed more than 200 million furry friends sold since the company first opened its doors in 1997.

About the author

James Zahn

James Zahn

James Zahn, AKA The Rock Father, is Editor-in-Chief of The Toy Book, a Senior Editor at The Toy Insider and The Pop Insider, and Editor of The Toy Report, The Toy Book‘s weekly industry newsletter. As a pop culture and toy industry expert, Zahn has appeared as a panelist and guest at events including Comic-Con International: San Diego (SDCC) Wizard World Chicago, and the ASTRA Marketplace & Academy. Zahn has more than 30 years of experience in the entertainment, retail, and publishing industries, and is frequently called upon to offer expert commentary for publications such as Forbes, Marketwatch, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, USA Today, Reuters, the Washington Post, and more. James has appeared on History Channel’s Modern Marvels, was interviewed by Larry King and Anderson Cooper, and has been seen on Yahoo! Finance, CNN, CNBC, FOX Business, NBC, ABC, CBS, WGN, The CW, and more. Zahn joined the Adventure Media & Events family in 2016, initially serving as a member of the Parent Advisory Board after penning articles for the Netflix Stream Team, Fandango Family, PBS KIDS, Sprout Parents (now Universal Kids), PopSugar, and Chicago Parent. He eventually joined the company full time as a Senior Editor and moved up the ranks to Deputy Editor and Editor-in-Chief.