Mattel in no mood to party as Barbie feels her age

Toy maker’s profits plunge as global downturn bites

Everything is starting to sag as Barbie approaches her 50th birthday.

The plastic princess may be getting made up ready for her big party next month, but there is no disguising the wrinkles that have appeared in her formally svelte sales figures – and there is simply nothing pretty about the bottom line.

Barbie’s contribution to the toy giant Mattel’s financial results yesterday was so disappointing that its shares plunged by more than 15 per cent on the announcement.

The doll range, conceived by Ruth Handler, the wife of Mattel’s co-founder, in 1959, saw its global sales tumble by 21 per cent in the final three months of last year, as the recession crimped Christmas present buying and the rising dollar reduced the value of overseas income. These woes compounded Barbie’s long-running battle with the signs ofageing, which has resulted in lost business to competition from younger, trendier models.

However, Barbie did at least win one recent confrontation with the upstart challenger Bratz, after Mattel successfully sued Bratz owner MGA, claiming that the brand was created by a Mattel employee and was therefore Mattel’s property.

Overall, Mattel’s profit for the quarter of $176m was 46 per cent down on the same period in 2007, and missed forecasts from Wall Street analysts.

The company also owns Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars and Fisher-Price toys, as well as dozens of other less wellknown brands.

The collapse of Woolworths in the UK was one of the factors cited by Robert Eckert, Mattel chief executive, as he unveiled the gloomy results yesterday.

“Toy retailers weren’t immune to the economic downturn, with significant toy sellers in the US, UK, Mexico and other major markets either closing their doors or entering bankruptcy,”

he said. “Against that backdrop, we underperformed for the quarter, and ultimately the year, due to a combination of lacklustre sales, lower gross margin and higher expenses.”

The current year would be one of relentless cost-cutting for Mattel, Mr Eckert warned, and the company is trying to push through higher prices to improve profitability. However, it warned that the year would be rocky, with consumers reluctant to countenance much in theway of inflation.

Analysts said the build-up of unsold stockontoy store shelves and in warehouses would hobble results in the early part of2009, with Mattel unable to implement price rises until this surplus is eliminated.

Gerrick Johnson, of BMO Capital Markets, said he was concerned that Mattel’s inventories had risen by 13 per cent. “That means things deteriorated much more quickly than they had planned,” he said.



Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones
film
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Selby Jennings: Quantitative Research | Equity | New York

Not specified: Selby Jennings: Quantitative Research | Global Equity | New Yor...

Selby Jennings: SVP Model Validation

Not specified: Selby Jennings: SVP Model Validation This top tiered investment...

Selby Jennings: Oil Operations

Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015