Barbie dull? Sales slump drags down Mattel results

She's dyed her hair every colour under the sun and tried hundreds of different jobs, but no matter how many makeovers Barbie has, her playroom star power continues to wane.

Mattel, the world's largest toymaker, said its global sales had fallen 9% in the three months to the end of June, as demand for its Barbie dolls and Fisher Price toys tumbled.

The US-listed company said sales of Barbie dolls and related merchandise, including flaxen-haired "zoo doctor" and "Arctic rescue" character dolls, had dropped 15% in the second quarter after falling 14% in the previous period.

The drop in sales of Fisher-Price toddler toys was even more pronounced, down 17% for the period. Profits for the quarter came in at $28.3m (£16.5m), compared with $73.3m a year ago, sending Mattel shares down 6% in morning trading.

Barbie, who is now 55 years old, has seen her popularity fade in recent years as new doll franchises – including Mattel's own Monster High series, which features ghoulish dolls with names such as Frankie Stein and Draculaura – capture young girls' imaginations. Sales of Mattel's more traditional doll brand American Girl doll were also up 6%.

As Mattel's power brands lose their lustre – Barbie has traditionally underpinned the group's profits – the company has looked elsewhere for new growth channels. In February it bought the Lego rival Mega Brands for $366.4m.

Powered by article was written by Zoe Wood, for The Guardian on Thursday 17th July 2014 13.47 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


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