Neil Friedman is one of those figures in the toy industry who are so important that their every move bears close attention. When it was announced earlier in the month that Neil was moving to Toys R Us as President of the U.S. division, some speculated as to why, Neil, whose most recent and by far largest body of body of work has been in manufacturing, would be chosen for this particular job.
Here is how Toys R Us described his duties in its press release: “In his new position at Toys“R”Us, Mr. Friedman will oversee all merchandising, marketing, store operations, merchandise presentation, global sourcing and product development, as well as merchandise planning and allocation for the company’s 866 stores and online business in the United States.”
There is no doubt that Neil will be adept in all of these areas. My thought, however, is that the reason you hire a talent like Neil is to take advantage of what he is best at: Managing a manufacturer.
So, it seems logical to me that Toys R Us has bigger plans for Neil’s strengths in manufacturing. Is it possible that they not only plan to use Neil to expand their private label business (Toys R Us just opened a new Shenzhen sourcing office) but to help them develop into a full-fledged manufacturer as well? Would it be so farfetched to see Toys R Us selling an F.A.O Schwarz brand of toys to other retailers? After all, if Hasbro can go into the cable TV business, why can’t Toys R Us venture into manufacturing?
Just a thought.