Interviews

2012's hottest toys

Toys 'R' Us CEO Jerry Storch gives his picks

 

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," November 21, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

ERIC BOLLING, GUEST HOST: All right, Toys "R" Us are opening up their doors early, way early. In fact, they're opening the night before Black Friday, Thanksgiving Day, 8:00 p.m.

Now, while workers at Target and other stores are upset working Turkey Day, what kind of response is Toys "R" Us getting?

Jerry Storch is the CEO of Toys "R" Us.

Jerry, you have to ask. You see all the news about workers upset, unions upset, but you are going to go with 8 p.m. Thanksgiving night?

JERRY STORCH, CEO, TOYS "R" US: Well, our customers love it. And they have asked us to do it.

Last year, we opened at 9 p.m. and there were long lines in front of the stores. Keep in mind our customers are different. Our customers are families. They are parents with small children. They like to go, get the shopping done. They go home and go to bed and not get up in the middle of the night and sneak out of the house.

They were in line before and they said, let us in this time. So, we decided to open up at 8 p.m. And the response has been overwhelmingly positive. With our employees, all of us know we are in the toy business. It starts on Black Friday, runs through Christmas. And we have signs up all over the building, saying how many days until Black Friday?

We are jazzed that Black Friday is finally here. Everyone in the company is committed behind this.

BOLLING: Fantastic.

Before we go into the hot toys, union or non-union?

STORCH: Non-union.

BOLLING: OK.

STORCH: Most retailers -- most retailers are.

BOLLING: But the reason why I ask, this show has -- we have focused on a lot of things that unions are doing disrupting Americans' plans, whether it is Thanksgiving dinner or whether it's flying from LAX or whether it's shopping at one of your competitors stores.

We will move on. Let's talk about some of the hot toys this year.

STORCH: OK.

The Tabeo is one of the hottest toys at Toys "R" Us. And this is our own tablet, a Toys "R" Us-designed tablet for kids. For $149.99 you have all the hot apps kids like to play. And they don't have to take your iPad in order to do it, so tremendously hot toy.

BOLLING: They have to buy the apps, too, though, right?

STORCH: No. It comes pre-loaded with 50 apps for free. And you get other free apps too. And of course you could buy apps if you wanted to add more to it.

(CROSSTALK)

STORCH: It also has learning tools.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLLING: What is this thing over here?

STORCH: Oh, this here, this is Baby Butterscotch here. This is an animatronic pet. It's very cute. I will not leave it on, you can feed it, it chomps. When you brush it, it gets very happy. This is the best pet in the world. Doesn't leave any mess. It's fantastic.

BOLLING: How much?

STORCH: About $119.

BOLLING: OK.

What else you got?

STORCH: Ninjago is one of the hottest LEGO sets. This is LEGO for boys. It is very, very, very huge. Everything LEGO has done has worked.

They even came up with Friends this year, which has been the first time LEGO has really succeeded with girls, LEGO Friends. So LEGO is the hottest brand in toys these days. Across the board, they are doing fantastic.

I have also brought...

BOLLING: You got a price on that?

STORCH: This is a little over $100. We put it on sale a lot. You will see it on sale, in fact, coming up soon.

BOLLING: OK.

STORCH: Skylanders Giants is the hottest video game for kids. They are figures that you put on a portal and they enter the video game. So, the action figures who are physical because virtual and you play with them, and it stores all your information on the figure. And you can take it over your friends' house and play.

BOLLING: Got to ask you, how much for that one first?

STORCH: The starter set is on sale on Black Friday for $49.99.

BOLLING: Here's a good question. OK. How much is it after Black Friday?

STORCH: Well, the regular price is $79.99, so it depends on when you get it. We try to put it on sale a lot. And we have coupons and other things in the store. But it is a great bargain on Black Friday.

BOLLING: You're saving $30 to shop...

(CROSSTALK)

BOLLING: And that is why people flock to the stores on Black Friday.

STORCH: Well, of course.

BOLLING: What percentage of your inventory, of your merchandise is marked down for Black Friday?

STORCH: It's huge. We have 32 pages of toys on sale for Black Friday, 200 door busters starting at 8:00 p.m.

BOLLING: Right.

STORCH: The top -- the first 200 families in line at 8:00 p.m. each of them get a gift bag full of $30 in free toys and then more sale items throughout...

(CROSSTALK)

BOLLING: Let's talk bigger picture here very quickly.

We talk about the fiscal cliff a lot. It is on Americans' mind. They're worried about what their tax structure is going to look like going forward. Are people pulling back a little bit because of what may happen January 1?

STORCH: Well, certainly people are concerned about value, I'll tell you that. That's why we see the kind of enormous response we see to days like Black Friday.

They're looking for bargains. That much, I will say. The other thing is, in the toy business, what we see is, good times and bad, the last thing parents cut back is a holiday present for their kids. So ever during the very negative times in the fall of 2008 and 2009, our sales grew around the world.

BOLLING: I got to go, but are you worried about the fiscal cliff on a corporate level?

STORCH: Well, I think they are going to solve it. That is my bet.

So, we will have to see what happens. You know, the broader economic picture remains to be seen. As someone who sells toys, though, I am comfortable with the business we're in.

BOLLING: Have you held back hiring people until you find out if we go off the fiscal cliff?

STORCH: We hire people because we have to, to provide the service. We can't slight the business for some other purpose. So we hired 45,000 seasonal employees this year, more than last year.

BOLLING: All right.

Jerry Storch, thank you very much, CEO of Toys "R" Us. Thank you, sir.

STORCH: Thank you.

BOLLING: All right.

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