Fans eager to get their hands on Baby Yoda merchandise might not have to wait as long as originally thought: Build-A-Bear will begin selling a plush version of The Child within the next couple of months. On Disney’s website, a plush, 11-inch-tall version of The Child won't be available until April 3.
“We will be one of the first companies to be able to provide the new digital and internet phenomenon—who is actually trending higher than all the presidential candidates combined—if any of you have seen 'The Mandalorian'," Sharon Price John, president and CEO of Build-A-Bear Workshop, announced at the ICR investment conference Tuesday morning. "We now will have The Child, also known as Baby Yoda.”
John said that Build-A-Bear immediately reached out to Disney and Lucas, owners of the Star Wars franchise, in November when the first episode of "The Mandalorian" aired on Disney Plus.
“It shows nimbleness and our ability to recognize trends,” she said, cheekily adding “The Force be with you” to the investment audience.
Neither Build-A-Bear nor Disney immediately returned requests for more information about the collaboration.
It’s a smart move for the St. Louis, Missouri-based Build-A-Bear, which has seen sales improve in recent months. For the third quarter, the company reported a 2.5 percent uptick in revenue to $70.4 million and a loss, of $5.9 million, that was smaller than the year-earlier loss of $6.1 million. The retailer saw a positive shift in sales over the fourth quarter, it said Tuesday. In that quarter, which includes the crucial holiday season, Build-A-Bear focused on digital marketing to drive e-commerce sales and store visits. The company was more aggressive with such efforts, according to John, who credited the strategy with the positive shift in sales.
Unlike other brands that are more tethered to impulse buys, Build-A-Bear is a destination experience and can actually attract more foot traffic to shopping centers. That strong position is helping the brand negotiate more favorable lease terms for its retail locations, 70 percent of which are up for renewal over the next three years, according to Chief Financial Officer Voin Todorovic.
By early afternoon trading on Tuesday, Build-A-Bear’s stock price was up 14 percent, trading near at $3.86. The new Baby Yoda offering should appeal to a wide range of consumers—more than 25 percent of Build-A-Bear’s sales are from customers age 12 years and older, John said, noting that the brand’s goal is to expand that pie.