FAO: Web, Catalogs Will Be Untouched by Bankruptcy

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FAO Inc.'s decision this week to file for bankruptcy is not expected to affect catalogs and Web sites for the company's brands -- FAO Schwartz, Zany Brainy and The Right Start.


"At this point we don't expect any impact on either [catalog or Internet operations]," said Alan Marcus, spokesperson at FAO Inc., King of Prussia, PA. "Both will continue for all three companies."


The FAO Schwarz Ultimate Toy Catalog is produced yearly for the holiday season. The company sends 8 million books across eight to nine drops.


"There's one that is the mainstream catalog, and there is the other catalog that includes a lot of the ultimate toy gifts with much higher price ranges," he said. "It's roughly along the lines of a higher-end catalog with ultimate toys, going to a circulation of 300,000 to 400,000. [The other recipients receive] the mainstream book. The one with the ultimate toys is 148 pages, and the mainstream book has 108 pages. All items in the mainstream book are in the ultimate book."


Zany Brainy's catalog targets parents of children ages 4 to 10. It mainly includes educational toys but also some mainstream toys. The Right Start is geared for new parents and contains products for newborns through age 4.


Marcus did not have figures on the number of Zany Brainy and Right Start catalogs dropped. Like the FAO Schwarz Ultimate Toy Catalog, they are produced only during the holidays. Catalog operations for FAO Schwarz are handled out of New York while the other two books are done in King of Prussia.


Marcus would not comment on the holiday performance of each catalog, saying "we'll probably have the numbers together by early February."


All three brands also have e-commerce Web sites.


There will be corporate and retail staff reductions, Marcus said, but he would not comment about possible reductions at the catalog or Internet sectors.


Store closings will number 75 to 80, though Marcus said he did not know how many stores of each brand would be shut. Closures begin in the "next couple of weeks" and are to be completed by the end of March. Current U.S. store counts are 169 for Zany Brainy, 22 for FAO Schwarz and 54 for The Right Start. FAO Schwarz's flagship New York City location on Fifth Avenue will not close.


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