Barbie back in fashion at 50

City A.M. Reporter
FASHIONISTA Barbie has wowed a new generation of doll lovers, helping Mattel find a return to strong sales for the 50-year-old iconic toy.

Mattel, the world’s leading toymaker, said yesterday it sold “more than hundreds of thousands” of the doll over the Christmas season after her fashion makeover.

The sales surge follows a reported decline of 26 per cent last year, despite her 50th birthday and a special spin-off range created by designer Christian Louboutin.

The US company, whose products also include Hot Wheels cars and Fisher-Price toys, said the new-look Barbie was one of the festive season’s biggest sellers.

“Sales were off the shelf,” said Stephanie Cota, senior vice-president of Barbie marketing.

The strong sales follow an overhaul for Mattel’s bestseller, aimed at making the dolls more relevant for today’s girls. Barbie posted a weak 2008, with sales down six per cent in the United States and 28 per cent in the rest of the world in that year’s fourth quarter.

Mattel, whose rivals include Hasbro and Hello Kitty creator Sanrio of Japan, has yet to report its 2009 fourth-quarter results. Its net sales for the third quarter fell eight per cent to $1.8bn (£1.1bn), but beat analysts’ expectations. Analysts expect the company to have returned to growth in the fourth quarter, with sales rising two per cent to nearly $2bn.