Thomas & Friends Collide with Barbie in Mattel Deal
Mattel, the worldwide playtime producer of brands like Barbie, Hot Wheels, Fisher Price and American Girl, has entered into a $680 million agreement to acquire HIT Entertainment, which owns Thomas & Friends, Barney, Bob the Builder and Angelina Ballerina, among other brands.
Mattel had already inked a deal in 2010 to market a variety of Thomas & Friends die-cast and plastic toys that bring the company $150 million in global sales each year. The new acquisition gives Mattel control of television programming, home entertainment products and additional toys for the brand, which has grown into the number one licensed preschool property in the world since it was created over 65 years ago.
“Thomas & Friends routinely ranks among the world’s leading preschool toys,” said Mattel Chairman and CEO Robert A. Eckert. “Additionally, with more than half of the Thomas & Friends revenue generated from non-toy products, this transaction will marry Mattel’s global marketing, distribution and brand management capabilities with HIT Entertainment’s global programming and licensing expertise to accelerate growth of the combined portfolio.”
The mutually beneficial deal is Mattel’s biggest since Eckert was appointed CEO in 2000.
“HIT Entertainment owns some of the most loved and trusted preschool brands in the world and under Mattel’s leadership, I look forward to seeing them grow to even greater heights,” said HIT Entertainment CEO and President Jeffrey D. Dunn. “Mattel is a wonderful steward of brands and a great home for the outstanding properties HIT has developed and grown, including Thomas & Friends. It is fitting that the world’s premier toy company should become the owner of the world’s premier preschool property.”