It’s been just over a year since Jay Foreman left Malibu, California-based Jakks Pacific after selling his toyco Play Along to the company in 2004. He’s not letting his 20-some years of experience in the kids biz languish, and is putting it to use through a new venture.
Foreman had been looking for a way to get back in the game without going the toy route and delved into something a little different – keeping in mind that the dwindling economy had raised a few industry hurdles. ‘Licensors are being asked to grow their business, but their staff has been cut back. Retailers are being asked to do more business per square foot with fewer vendors,’ he says. ‘Everybody’s looking for a way to try to do more business with less overhead and infrastructure, so I wondered, how could I provide a service that helped everybody do that?’
With that in mind, Foreman turned to global management supply giant Li & Fung for inspiration and decided that the service agency route was the way to go. He has relocated to Boca Raton, Florida to launch The Bridge Direct, providing back office support for licensors, manufacturers, retailers and distributors. The company is following the Li & Fung supply model, but on a smaller scale and with a focus on kids business. Other services include forming DTR programs, consolidation (whether it’s retailers consolidating their vendor bases or licensors consolidating their licensees) manufacturing, product development and financial support.
The Bridge is already off to a good start. It’s signed Wham-O, known for classic brands like Hula Hoop, Frisbee and Hacky Sack. Wham-O has outsourced its back office to Foreman’s company so that it can put more of a focus on its own marketing, sales and product development. As for client size, The Bridge will initially take on companies selling between US$10 million and US$100 million a year, since outfits that sell beyond that range likely serve themselves.
Foreman has intentions of making The Bridge a global venture, though he anticipates a stronger focus in North America at first, with a base in Hong Kong. At press time, he was in discussions with distributors in the UK and Australia, and was looking to reach out to France, Germany, Italy and Japan. On the flip side, he also hopes to rep international manufacturers to help them penetrate the North American market.
Though he won’t be showing at Fall Toy Preview, he’ll be on hand in Dallas this month to meet with interested parties.