170 Layoffs Announced at Hasbro

Sad news from Hasbro. The world’s second largest toy company has announced it is laying off 170 of its workers. 55 here in the U.S. and 115 more overseas. According to The Republic:

“Toy maker Hasbro on Tuesday laid off 55 employees in Rhode Island, part of a larger downsizing that comes just months after announcing an expansion into Providence, company officials said. Company spokesman Wayne Charness said in a statement that about 170 workers are being laid off worldwide because of the ‘underperformance’ in Hasbro’s U.S. and Canadian divisions, which are under new leadership. He also cited the company’s need for ‘different skill sets’ in its workforce.”

“Underperformance” and “different skill sets” are probably translated into plain-talk as “low sales” and “we’re making toys nobody wants.” The article also quotes Mr. Charness as saying that the layoffs are part of an effort to “return this business to historical levels of profitability and growth” and that “the company’s business remains strong.”

Well, that’s good to hear, Wayne. But laying off 170 people doesn’t exactly fill us with confidence. Of course, times are tough everywhere and that includes within the toy industry. And with more children being raised in today’s “digital age” of video games, it’s a sure bet that less are growing up playing with traditional games and toys and that overall lower sales are reflecting that fact. Add into the mix rising oil and gas prices and an overall struggling U.S. economy, and toy manufacturers must surely be taking a hit. Of course, without further “inside intel” regarding actual sales, it’s hard to draw any further conclusions. Let’s hope Hasbro’s “new leadership” eventually listens to all the toy fans and collectors out there who’ve been offering good, solid, insightful advice for decades. Anyone out there have any suggestions for Hasbro? Please step up and leave a comment!

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6 thoughts on “170 Layoffs Announced at Hasbro

  1. GIJOEBILL says:

    Sorry. They have never listened before. What makes you think they will now?

  2. kneonknight says:

    Leave a comment, he says…well, folks, get youselves a snack and a comfortable chair. This could take a while.

    I have contacted Hasbro on two occasions in the past to make suggestions for improvements on existing products, and both times received the same polite form letter that essentially said that they would continue to rely on their “in-house” advisors because obviously the people that actually buy and use their goods couldn’t possibly have any ideas worth consideration.

    That being said, I will offer some insight on a few of their current toy lines where I have some experience as a consumer. I’d like to preface these remarks with some simple advice that can benefit any business, namely:

    1) If you are trying to sell something, make sure the general public is aware of that fact. Advertising is your friend.

    2) Listen to your customers. And let them know that you are listening. Form letters like I cited above tend to alienate people, and send a message of arrogance that is not conductive to future purchases.

    Now then, Hasbro, should any of your employees actually be reading this, I have some comments I’d like to pass on to the higher ups. Being the father of two active and reasonably well-behaved children as well as a G.I. Joe collector of many years, I have made many trips through the toy aisle and purchased several of your products. For the most part, I have been satisfied, but I have also given a pass to some, and some I was rather disappointed with after purchase.

    Let me start with Mr. Potato Head. I loved this little guy as a kid, and my children have gotten a lot of enjoyment from him as well. Today’s version is not far from the ones I had in my childhood, and I think it is fairly obvious that the changes that were made were due to safety concerns. The problem is finding him. I know that he is still being made, but none of the local retailers seem to have any in stock, and in one case, a clerk I asked had no idea what I was talking about. So, distribution and product awareness seem to be two problems facing Hasbro.

    On to Transformers. Again, another great toy. But please explain to me why the one I remember best was also designed from day one to be an epic failure? I am speaking of the now infamous Talking Optimus Prime, the Transformers toy that did NOT transform. How on earth did it ever get into production? I have to wonder if the individual responsible for that decision kept his job. Lesson learned? People have certain expectations, and if a product cannot meet those expectations, the manufacturer will suffer for it.

    My Little Pony seems to be a line that is doing well. It is popular with younger children, especially girls, and adult collectors. The basic Pony comes with a hairbrush, and there are accessories and playsets available seperately. So, we have a basic character toy and support for it in the form of accessories…why does that sound familiar?

    Because that was the key marketing concept for Barbie, a toy that has been in constant production for over 50 years.

    The toy that inspired G.I. Joe.

    Remember him? You should, Hasbro, as he is the guy that pretty much made your company a household name. And you have treated him badly. Much like a domineering spouse, you have forced him into situations and areas where he was not wanted (Bullet Man, Mike Power), belittled him (Super Joe, Real American Hero), mocked him (The Defenders) and abandoned him on more than one occasion. He has endured countless attempts to change him (I have counted no less than 6 different head sculpts and 7 different body types in the 12″ figures alone) and vast reductions in his wardrobe budget (molded-on clothing SUCKS!), yet he still stands by you and is willing to support you. All that he, and his loyal friends of 48 years ask is that you let him be who he is-America’s movable fighting man/adventurer. You two have a 50 year anniversary coming up. How about reconciling and getting a fresh start? Get back to basics. Like, say a recognizable, iconic character figure and accessories you can purchase seperately?

    Sounds like a good idea to me.

    (My apologies to the readers, and especially to our gracious host, Mark, for the length of this rant. And thanks. I do appreciate the chance to vent.)

  3. Rick says:

    Put me in DePriest’s position, we’ll have a 50th birthday like none other. I’ll only have a 5 minute commute!

    Rick aka Joeman, and Joemanri!

  4. kneonknight says:

    Never mind my rant…it seems that someone beat me to it, and covered most of the key points I brought up.

    Watch. It’s actually pretty good.

  5. Rick says:

    Loved it!

  6. kneonknight says:

    Heck, Rick, we don’t need to put you in Mr. DePriest’s job, we just need to let you take comments and suggestions.

    It would be the greatest thing to ever happen to the ‘Joe division at Hasbro; having someone who actually listens to the customer.

    You got my vote, brother.

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