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Mattel’s American Girl Goes International to Canada

Mattel Inc.’s fast-growing American Girl brand is going international for the first time.

The brand will open boutiques within two Indigo Books & Music Inc. locations in Canada early next year, Jean McKenzie, executive vice president of American Girl, said at a press event. American Girl, whose dolls sell for more than $100 and make up about 8 percent of Mattel’s annual sales, will also mail catalogs to potential customers in Canada this year.

American Girl has been a bright spot for Mattel, the world’s largest toymaker, with sales increasing 20 percent to $122.3 million in the quarter ended Sept. 30. Meanwhile Barbie, its largest brand, has had mixed results and its Fisher-Price and Hot Wheels lines are facing declining sales.

“There is growing demand for the brand and that’s what’s fueling our desire to open Canada,” McKenzie said at the event in New York. “Given the amount of girls who are aware of the brand,” expanding to Canada versus another country made the most sense, she said.

When American Girl opens a store, the sales increase in the surrounding geographic area is as much as 60 percent, McKenzie said. A location also serves as a marketing tool and helps lure new customers, she said. The American Girl boutiques in Indigo will open in spring 2014 in Toronto and Vancouver.

The brand currently only sells the dolls via its 15 U.S. stores, website and catalog. The line’s books are sold at other retailers.

Mattel, based in El Segundo, California, rose 1.8 percent to $44.91 in New York. The shares have advanced 23 percent this year, compared with a 24 percent gain for for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

Mattel will hold an analyst meeting tomorrow at 10 a.m. New York time.

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