CHINA: Mattel closes Barbie store

Mattel has closed its Barbie concept store in Shanghai, after two years.
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The store opened in March 2009 as Mattel celebrated the doll's 50th birthday, hoping to open up a new market for the doll.

"Mattel Inc. confirms that the 'Barbie Shanghai Flagship Store' will be closed on March 7th, 2011," the company said in a statement, but said it remained committed to developing the brand in China.

The store featured a pink neon escalator that transported customers into a showroom with 900 display cases containing dolls in unique dresses, as well as a restaurant, spa and a Barbie bar.

However, sales at the six-storey outlet failed to get off the ground and Mattel had to cut its targets by nearly a third within the first eight months, according to previous media reports.

The market in China is tough for foreign brands with US retailer Best Buy also struggling and closing stores.

According to reports from AFP, Mattel said when the concept store opened that China accounted for 2.5 per cent of the doll's global sales but the company aimed to make it Barbie's top market as early as 2014.

Barbie sales rose eight per cent worldwide in the fourth quarter of 2010 while Mattel's overall revenue increased nine per cent to $2.1 billion.

It reported a profit of $325.2 million in the quarter, down from $328.4 million a year earlier.

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