Mattel is making the interim term of CEO Christopher Sinclair a permanent appointment.
The toy maker on Thursday said Sinclair would stay in that role for good, after his initial temporary move into the job in late January after the abrupt departure of former CEO Bryan Stockton.
“He is moving with urgency and we are delighted that, with his agreement to sign on as CEO and continue to lead the effort personally, there will not be any delay in implementing the changes necessary to get Mattel back on track,” said Michael J. Dolan, Mattel’s independent lead director.
Speed is needed to turn around Mattel (MAT), which analysts and rival toy executives have criticized for failing to move fast enough to keep up with the latest trends in the toy industry. This year, in particular, Mattel could face challenges as many of the hottest toys are tied to blockbuster films like The Avengers and Star Wars, and competitors hold key licenses for those properties.
Meanwhile, Mattel’s major iconic brands, in particular Barbie and preschool line Fisher-Price, have reported steep sales declines of late. Shares have slipped so drastically because of weak sales that Mattel is no longer considered the most valuable publicly traded toy company, an honor recently seized by rival Hasbro (HAS). Even more bruising: Hasbro’s market capitalization is higher despite it reporting more than $1.5 billion less in annual sales and a smaller profit than Mattel.
Sinclair is one of a few internal candidates that analysts speculated could take the top job. Two potential successors were co-presidents Richard Dickson and Tim Kilpin, who were both recently appointed to expanded roles at Mattel.
Sinclair, a former PepsiCo (PEP) executive, will most notably need to revive Barbie, whose sales have slid for three consecutive years. In 2014, they fell by double digits. In February, Mattel revealed some of its turnaround plans during the New York toy fair including a talking Barbie doll and a line of dolls that feature greater ethnic diversity. Mattel also hooked up with Google (GOOG) to sell a virtual reality version of the View-Master, the plastic picture viewer that traditionally showed 3-D images.
Sinclair said he was encouraged by internal efforts to “reduce bureaucracy” but also admitted the company has “lots of work to do.” He said he will provide more details when Mattel announces first-quarter results on April 16.