Brio plans product blitz

Brio's chairman has promised to improve the firm's sales with a slew of new product lines.
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The firm will introduce products at a record pace this year in an attempt to revive sales growth, according to chairman David Sachs.

It plans to introduce 70 new lines in 2008, including interactive games and children's furniture, Sachs said in an interview in Stockholm.

The toymaker is down 34 per cent in Stockholm trading this year and has lost 70 per cent over two years. Proventus AB, the Swedish investment company led by Sachs, bought 30 per cent of Brio in 2004 for 90 million kronor ($15 million) and has since cut about 130 jobs, closed shops and moved some production to China. Brio had a net loss of 82.6 million kronor last year.

"Brio's problem, long before we came into the picture, was that if you're not innovative and develop new products they become generic," Sachs said. "The first thing we did was to start to put a new organisation in place that had an understanding of consumers."

Sales fell 16 per cent last year, the second straight decline. CEO Thomas Braeutigam is leaving this month after three and a half years in charge.

The product range targets children aged three or less. The new set of interactive toys that goes on sale later this year is aimed at connecting children with their parents through building, touching and listening. Sachs said he also plans to strengthen the division making baby products.

"Before we invested in Brio we realised it was going to be a long process that you need to have patience with and we're somewhere in the middle of it," Sachs said. "We believe there is big, long-term potential."

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