Hasbro enters holiday season with CEO on sick leave



Hasbro Inc.

TO -1.62%

the abrupt change in leadership this week leaves the toy company in the hands of lieutenants to navigate sales strategies and supply chain challenges during a pivotal time of the year.

Nerf blaster and board game maker Monopoly said Sunday night chief executive Brian Goldner, 58, had taken medical leave. Mr Goldner, who has served as CEO since 2008, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2014 and underwent additional treatment last year. He maintained his managerial role through his medical treatments, including during the pandemic where he worked mostly remotely.

“Right now I need to take the time to focus on my health,” Goldner wrote in a note to staff on Sunday.

The company has named Rich Stoddart, a longtime board member and former CEO of advertising giant Leo Burnett Worldwide, as interim chief. In addition to his marketing skills, Mr. Stoddart, 58, has some supply chain experience since he led Innerworkings Inc., which manages marketing campaigns. He and Mr Goldner are also friends of the university, having attended Dartmouth College as undergraduates in the early 1980s.

“We couldn’t ask for a better steward, and I’m sure you will all enjoy working with him,” Mr. Goldner wrote.

Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner in 2018.


Presley Ann / Getty Images

Hasbro is now turning to the holiday season, a time when the toy industry typically registers around half of its retail sales for the entire year. Much of the planning and preparation for the key sales season has already taken place, with toy orders for retailers being filled for both online and in-store sales.

This year has posed additional challenges for the supply chain, as manufacturing slowdowns and bottlenecks at ports have delayed some toy shipments. Hasbro has shipped from more ports in Asia and to more places in the United States to make sure they have enough product.

“We think we will have all the products, although we might like a few more products in some categories, but we will have the product for the holidays,” Goldner said at an industry event. last month.

In recent years, Hasbro has added new staff to its leadership team, including Commercial Director Michael Hogg and COO Eric Nyman, who can be relied on to execute vacation plans.

Jefferies Group analyst Stephanie Wissink said her take on Hasbro’s outlook over the next year remains unchanged with the leadership reshuffle. She said in a research note that Mr Goldner’s decision to take medical leave represents “both a sign of his unwavering commitment to get better and also his courage to do so without harm in any way. , daily. business at Hasbro or market speculation related to his health.

Satellite images show the extent of the backlog at California ports as lingering supply chain problems now threaten the holiday shopping season. Jennifer Smith of the WSJ explains what is causing the ship and cargo blockages. Photo: Planet Labs Inc

Mr. Goldner joined Hasbro in 2000 from another toy company, Bandai America Inc., and became CEO in 2008.

Mr. Goldner has shifted the focus of the business from manufacturing primarily toys to building brands through stories and entertainment, which so far has helped increase sales of exclusive brands and brands. licensed products from Hasbro. This included a greater push in film making, culminating in a $ 4 billion acquisition in 2019 of Entertainment One Ltd., which produces TV shows and movies and also owns children’s brands like Peppa Pig.

Hasbro recently released a new My Little Pony movie on Netflix,

and also has films in the works for other brands like Dungeons & Dragons and Transformers.

The strategy influenced that of other toy companies, including Mattel Inc.,

which, under the leadership of its CEO Ynon Kreiz, is expanding its brands like Barbie and Hot Wheels with streaming movies and TV shows.

Write to Paul Ziobro at [email protected]

Corrections and amplifications
Hasbro has films in the works for other brands like Dungeons & Dragons and Transformers. An earlier version of this article incorrectly said Dungeon & Dragons. (Corrected October 11)

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