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Published: Monday, 3/7/2011

Barbie hits the road, as Mattel closes Shanghai flagship store

ASSOCIATED PRESS

The six-story Shanghai store, complete with spa, cafe, design studio, fashion stage and shelves and shelves of Barbies and Barbie products, closed Monday. The six-story Shanghai store, complete with spa, cafe, design studio, fashion stage and shelves and shelves of Barbies and Barbie products, closed Monday.
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SHANGHAI — Barbie is hitting the road as Mattel Inc. closes down its Shanghai flagship store dedicated to the iconic brand after just two years.

The six-story store, complete with spa, cafe, design studio, fashion stage and shelves and shelves of Barbies and Barbie products, closed Monday, the world’s biggest toy maker said in a statement explaining that it plans to use its experience in Shanghai to reach customers across China.

“I have gone on a tour of China!” a cartoon Barbie says on the store’s website, explaining the brand is on a “Barbie Pink Bus Tour.”

Mattel is not the only foreign retailer with an extravagant investment in this huge but challenging market to change strategy.

The closing of Barbie’s citadel of all things pink on Shanghai’s Huaihai Rd. shopping belt follows the closure last month of all of electronics retailer Best Buy’s brandname stores in Shanghai. Best Buy is instead focusing on expanding outlets with its locally acquired chain Jiangsu Five Star Appliance Co.

Mattel, based in El Segundo, California, inaugurated the store on the 50th birthday of the Barbie brand, bringing together 45 product lines, including trampolines, jewelry and stationery.

Though sales of Barbie and other Mattel dolls have recently shown strong growth back home, the store never took off as a popular destination for local girls.

Shanghai is a hub for China’s fashion industry, but local parents are far more likely to splash out on extra lessons than on expensive toys.



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