Mattel Inc.’s fourth chief executive in four years officially took the helm of the company last Thursday.
Ynon Kreiz, who joined the El Segundo-based toymaker’s board last year, is a former chief executive of Maker Studios. He will return to corner office duties for the first time since the multi-channel digital network was acquired by Walt Disney Co. in 2014 for $675 million.
The news came after his predecessor, Margo Georgiadis, announced her departure from Mattel to take a top position at Ancestry.com Inc., a consumer genomics company. Her role as chief executive for Ancestry begins May 10.
The turnover was abrupt but not shocking, said Linda Bolton Weiser, a senior analyst at Great Falls, Mont.-based D.A. Davidson Equity Capital Markets.
Mattel has struggled with sales of its iconic toys over the last few years. It has consistently attributed its poor financials to weak demand across its core brands, a roster that includes Barbie, Hot Wheels and Fisher-Price products. The September bankruptcy filing of retailer Toys R Us Inc. also was a factor, along with the March announcement of the retailer’s plans to liquidate. Toys R Us had accounted for approximately 15 to 20 percent of Mattel’s revenue.
Georgiadis tried to stem the bleeding over her 14-month tenure by implementing management changes, suspending dividends and announcing a plan to cut $650 million in costs.
The company’s income declined by almost 80 percent from $1.05 billion in 2016 to $318 million in 201, and revenue fell 12.5 percent from $5.4 billion to $4.8 billion over the same period.
Weiser said she met with Georgiadis and other Mattel executives in February at the New York Toy Fair, and came away from discussions with the impression that Georgiadis was determined to set things right at the company. Weiser said Chief Financial Officer Joseph Euteneuer also told her that the company did not receive a takeover bid from Hasbro, countering a rumor that circulated last fall.
“But if there is a possible sale, Hasbro is the only real contender, the only strategic buyer that makes sense,” Wieser said.
The analyst said the appointment of Kreiz suggests a troubling trend at Mattel, where many executives previously worked at companies that provide services. Georgiadis came from Google, Euteneuer was formerly at Sprint Corp. and Kreiz is from the digital media world.
“Does anybody over there know how to manufacture a widget in China, get it on a ship, and finally onto retailer shelves here?
Neither Georgiadis nor Kreiz could be reached for comment last week.
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