For the past few years, Mattel’s American Girl subsidiary has been running into problems. Sales have been dropping by the double-digits as habits change (damn the devices!) and other companies’ 18″ dolls have started to catch up to them in terms of quality but at a lower price. Add in another unfortunate set of moves that were tied to the failing Toys “R” Us (TRU), and those problems have snowballed quickly. The launch of the lower-priced, 15″ Wellie Wishers line never took off in the way that everyone hoped, and those dolls and their accessories were shipped heavily to TRU. Pair that with fact that about a year and a half ago (October 2016), American Girl opened store-within-a-store pop-up concepts in 97 Toys “R” Us locations, and that’s an issue. Mattel is owed over $135M in the Toys “R” Us bankruptcy that they’ll likely never see and the fallout has begun. They recently announced the closing of their New York City office (100 jobs lost), and today comes news that hits close to home – they’re shutting down American Girl operations in Wilmot, Wisconsin, and The Mattel Toy Store is going along with it.
In a statement this afternoon, it was revealed that 135 jobs will be lost due to the closure of the American Girl warehouse and call center. The work from Wilmot will be shifted to other American Girl facilities in Middleton and DeForest, WI. Today’s announcement comes just three months after another staff reduction at American Girl.
For regular readers of THE ROCK FATHER™ Magazine for those who follow me on social, you may recall that The Mattel Toy Store in Wilmot has been a favorite of ours since we first started taking our girls there back in 2012 (which I wrote about here). Since 2014, I’ve also made the that location a regular stop as part of my annual Rock Father™ Santa Holiday Toy Donation Program. I’d hit that store on Black Friday each year to take advantage of 50% off savings on top of their factory-direct deals. My wife and I would let our girls pick out toys that would be donated to families in our neighboring communities.
No word on wind-down plans for the store aside from a closing date of June 22 (subject to change), but the warehouse is set to close by June 29. Best wishes to all who are affected by the closures – I hope they find new employment very quickly.
On a related bit of news, Mattel announced today that their Board of Directors has named Ynon Kreiz (formerly of Maker Studios), a Mattel director since June 2017, as Chief Executive Officer effective April 26, 2018. Margo Georgiadis, who became Mattel’s CEO in February 2017, has informed the Board of her decision to step down from her executive and Board roles to pursue a new opportunity in the technology sector. Georgiadis will serve in an advisory role at Mattel through May 10, 2018 to ensure a smooth transition.