At the ABC Kids Expo, taking place in Louisville, KY, All Baby and Child (ABC) and the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) announced that they are exploring a strategic partnership to unify the two organizations to better support the industry, create more valuable programming and improve communication between manufacturers, retailers and consumers. A task force, led by Kelly Marioti, board member of both organizations, has been established to lead the transition.
Early forecasts for the upcoming holiday shopping season predict a 3 percent increase in sales, just below last year's 4.1 percent rise. Still, the uptick is above the 2.6 percent average gain over the last 10 years. According to research firm ShopperTrak, consumers are expected to research and compare product prices beforehand, as well as shop primarily for bargains and make fewer trips to stores overall.
Toys "R" Us announced plans to hire more than 40,000 employees to staff its U.S. stores and distribution centers this holiday season. The company has hired 35,000 to 45,000 seasonal staff members in previous years. Each year, there are opportunities for high performing seasonal employees to extend their roles and possibly be hired full-time. Ten percent of the Toys "R" Us 2010 holiday workforce are currently employed by the toy giant.
Nickelodeon and Jay Franco and Sons, a leader in the bedding category for more than 60 years, have made an agreement to produce bedding, beach towels and bath collections for properties such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Dora the Explorer and SpongeBob SquarePants. The lines will be available at specialty and value retailers this spring.
Woolrich announced it has entered into a multi-year licensing agreement with Weeplay Kids, LLC to develop, produce, market and sell layette boys' sportswear, including boys' outerwear, sleepwear, and accessories in sizes 0-20, in the U.S. and Canada. The first collection will be available at retail in Fall 2012. Isaac Maleh, Brand Manager of Weeplay Kids, LLC, says, "Along with its amazing heritage and brand strength, Woolrich gives us a new avenue to explore different fabrications, and different ways of incorporating the latest fabrics into garments."
British-based online children's boutique AlexandAlexa let kids in on Fashion Week fun by creating five short films, all featuring children decked out in the store's top international brands and frolicking down a mirrored runway set in a wooded forest. Each video was dedicated to looks from a different designer collection, including Junior Gaultier, Baby Dior, Stella McCartney, Tommy Hilfiger and Rykiel Enfant.
Pippen Lane Emporium, a New Orleans-based children's boutique, is partnering with TOMS for a Big Easy-themed party, in efforts to raise awareness for the footwear brand's philanthropic efforts to donate a pair of new shoes to a child in need for every pair purchased. The "Style Your Sole" event will showcase the latest TOMS styles and include a station where kids can decorate their new shoes, or allow a local artist to customize their kicks, free of charge. Face painting, balloon animals and live Cajun and Zydeco music will keep the atmosphere festive.
To publicize a new rule beginning next year that manufacturers of children's toys will have to certify that their products have been tested by an authorized third-party laboratory, the Consumer Product Safety Commission is launching a three-step education campaign.
Clothing company Esprit Holdings Ltd is exiting its U.S. and Canadian operations, which the company reports has been losing money. The closures are part of the Hong Kong-based company's four-year plan to refocus on the brand's heritage designs and to strengthen its Asian and European business. Esprit will also shut down 80 unprofitable stores in Spain, Denmark and Sweden.