WAYNE, N.J. – Toys“R”Us announced that it has named the former head of one of the world's largest toy companies to serve as president of its U.S. business. Neil Friedman, who most recently served as president Mattel Brands, will now oversee all merchandising, marketing, store operations, merchandise presentation, global sourcing and product development, as well as merchandise planning and allocation for Toys"R"Us' 866 stores and online business in the United States. Friedman will report to Gerald Storch, chairman and CEO of Toys“R”Us Inc.
Storch said, “We could not be more pleased that Neil is joining our leadership team. He is truly an industry icon. Neil has extensive knowledge of, and has made significant contributions to, the toy and juvenile product businesses throughout his career. We look forward to working with Neil to further our growth strategy as we continue to advance our authority and specialist positions through our many initiatives ahead.”
Toys"R"Us has been focusing on its core toy business as a major growth area, as it gears up for a possible IPO, so having someone with extensive knowledge of the toy industry head its U.S. operations will make the company more attractive to potential investors.
To say Friedman knows a bit about toys is an understatement. The man has been with Mattel since March 1997, when Tyco, where he then served as president preschool, was acquired by Mattel. In 1999, he was named president Fisher-Price Brands, and served in that capacity until October 2005 when he was appointed president of the newly formed Mattel Brands, which brought Mattel and Fisher-Price together under one corporate unit. Prior to Mattel, he held a number of key executive positions in the toy and juvenile products industries, including, president MCA/Universal merchandising; SVP sales, marketing and design Just Toys; VP and general manager baby care Gerber products; EVP and COO Lionel Leisure Inc.; and president Aviva/Hasbro.
Friedman was named to the Toy Industry Hall of Fame in 2004 and was inducted into the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association’s Hall of Fame in 2007.