NEWS

Exclusive – Toy World talks to Mattel’s Sanjay Luthra

Published on: 9th May 2019

Sanjay took over as managing director of Europe just over a year ago after 19 years at Mattel, adding the Middle East and Africa to his portfolio in January.

When Sanjay took over the reins, he came with the perception of being – in his own words – “a digital, techy, algorithm type of guy who would support online retailers.” In practice, he has proved to be so much more: retailers from every retail channel now see him as someone who finds solutions to problems and works with them to help them address the challenges they face in a rapidly evolving retail landscape.

“There was certainly a lot of work to do – I knew exactly what I was coming in to and that it wouldn’t be easy,” Sanjay tells Toy World publisher John Baulch, when asked how he has found the role so far. “The challenge was very visible. When we looked at where we were in our core markets, in some territories Mattel was ranking at number four, five or even six. That is not our natural spot. It is both a great challenge and a great opportunity. When people ask me ‘what is your dream job at Mattel?’ I say ‘this is it.’ Mattel is in my DNA: Europe has the ability to create huge impact in a positive way.”

Sanjay is championing entrepreneurial spirit at Mattel, challenging the status quo in a way which pushes the decision making process down to the people on the ground. This empowerment, he says, has been wholeheartedly embraced by the team, and is reflected in the success of Barbie and Hot Wheels this year. While he admits that Thomas and Fisher-Price remain challenging, Sanjay also highlights the performance of Enchantimals in markets outside the US, which in some areas out-performed Jurassic World.

Mattel is also improving its relationship with independent retailers, through the launch of its new B2B platform. “We’ve just launched it in Italy and Spain, and we’ve been piloting it here in the UK with a selection of retailers,” says Sanjay. “We’ll be rolling it out in full later this year. The idea is to offer specialist retailers technology and self-service, to save them having to constantly contact us for information. Now it’s all in one place: product information and recommendations; brand plans; TV advertising creative and instructional videos. While it is rich in information, its primary function is to make ordering quicker and easier; retailers can even track the progress of an order or check if a product has come back into stock.”

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

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