Jakks Pacific plans European expansion

By Gary Gentile The Associated Press
Thursday January 03, 2002

LOS ANGELES — Jakks Pacific Inc. is taking “The Rock” to Europe. 

The toy company, which produces dolls based on World Wrestling Federation personalities, has bought Kidz Biz Ltd., a toy distributor based in the United Kingdom, for an undisclosed price. The Malibu-based company, said the purchase is the first step in a planned international expansion. 

“With Kidz Biz as the cornerstone, and with products in virtually every toy, art, activity, stationary and writing instrument category, we will now be well positioned to rapidly expand our sales throughout continental Europe,” Stephen Berman, Jakks Pacific president, said Wednesday. 

Jakks has distributed its products in the United Kingdom through Kidz Biz since 1999. 

Jakks, which has the crafts and activities license for the Warner Bros. “Harry Potter” movies, has seen its stock price soar since last year’s release of the first Potter movie. It also has a new license for “Barney & Friends” products and recently introduced new WWF-themed video games in a joint venture with THQ. 

The company’s third quarter earnings rose 17 percent, and Banc of America Securities analyst William Gibson recently forecast an increase of 14 percent for 2002. 

Shares of Jakks Pacific were up 36 cents to $19.31 on the Nasdaq Stock Market Wednesday.