Exclusive – FAO Schwarz: a world of wonder

Published on: 3rd April 2019

Toy World publisher John Baulch paid a visit to to the Hong Kong offices of ThreeSixty Group, the owner of the iconic toy brand. 

ThreeSixty Group is a company which has gone under the radar for many years. Since its acquisition of the FAO Schwarz brand several years ago, its profile – along with its presence in the global toy market – has increased exponentially.

For those who may not be familiar with the back story, ThreeSixty Group is a privately-owned company founded in 2000 which has grown into an operation with 400 staff – 300 in Asia and 100 in USA. The company designs, sources, and distributes consumer products across diverse categories under a portfolio of owned and licensed brands. Its portfolio includes more than 20 brands (internally developed, acquired, and licensed) including the iconic FAO Schwarz, among others. The brands and products are sold in over 70,000 retail doors in the US and across the world.

FAO Schwarz had long been a fixture of the US toy scene: in 2001, it had 41 stores. It subsequently went through several owners, including a magazine publisher, a hedge fund, and from 2009 until it closed in 2014, Toys R Us. Despite its challenges, there was a strong consumer attachment to the brand – a valuable asset for a new owner to leverage. So, how did the tie-up with FAO come about?

“We had started to see the benefits of developing a brand association with an iconic toy store with a name that resonated around the world,” explains COO Jan-Eric Kloth. “That basically left us two choices – FAO Schwarz was the logical choice. Four years later, a deal was finally tied up with Toys R Us to take over the FAO Schwarz brand.”

Having re-opened a flagship store in New York, attentions then turned to expansion elsewhere. A store in Beijing is set to open in May, while a further flagship location in Shanghai will open later in the year alongside 20-25 smaller stores across China. On top of this, a ‘store within a store’ is slated for a November unveiling in Selfridges, Oxford Street.

“These are huge moves – a really exciting journey lies ahead,” enthuses Jan-Eric. “FAO Schwarz is a global brand with tremendous heritage that stands for experience and wonder, and we are thrilled to continue bringing our unique brand of retail to new markets and consumers.”

To read the full interview, which was published in the April issue of Toy World, click here.


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