World's premier toy company Mattel is expected to open its first Barbie flagship store in Shanghai next month in Shanghai, the country's economic hub, in hope of a market expansion in China when its global sales contracted.A number of major brands and retailers seem to be looking at international expansion as a way of growing through the hard times. Mattel's sales in 2008 were down 1%, but Q4 was down 11%. Mattel has been in China for seven years now, according to the article, but this is their first major store.
The 3,500 square meter, six-floor Barbie flagship store along Shanghai's trendy Huaihai Road, is expected to open on March 7 to celebrate the brand's 50th anniversary, said Julia Jensen, Mattel's vice president of Public Relation and Communication International said in an e-mail to Xinhua.
The competition doesn't sound frightened:
"The market positioning of Barbie is quite different from Chinese toy brands. I don't think the flagship store would have much impact on the sales of Chinese toys," said Xie Min, the business department head of Huaihai Youth Articles Store, several hundred meters away from the pink Barbie flagship.
"China's toy market has long seen foreign brands including Winnie the Pooh and Mickey. Compared with them, Barbie is still less competitive in terms of its franchisers and product chain," says Xie.