Japan’s Sanrio has announced a handful of executive appointments across its retail and branding divisions and has tapped Just Play as master toy partner for Hello Kitty.
Former VP of brand management at Yogurtland, Craig Takiguchi, is now Sanrio VP of retail business development. He’s been brought on-board to implement new business strategies and strengthen relationships with key retail accounts. Takiguchi has also served as CEO of Muginoho International and held executive positions at Sony Pictures Entertainment, PepsiCo and The Walt Disney Company.
Joining Takiguchi’s team is Jill Cook, the former soft lines director for Sanrio Licensing. She is shifting into the director of retail business development role and will focus on expanding Sanrio’s retail business partnerships. Cook has more than 10 years of licensing and retail experience working for companies such as Mattel, IMG and Marvel.
In two other in-house promotions, Dave Marchi has been upped to VP of brand management and marketing, and Stephanie Simpson is the new director of retail merchandising.
Marchi, who started at Sanrio in 2001 as a consumer research analyst before transitioning to brand management and marketing in 2010, will continue to oversee the evolution and expansion of the Sanrio brand through experiential activations and collaboration programs. He will also manage Sanrio’s PR and marketing.
In her new role, Simpson will focus on specialty retail merchandising initiatives and continued development of Sanrio retail stores. Before joining Sanrio in 2014, Simpson worked for Forever 21, Love Culture, Bebe and Wet Seal.
All appointments are effective immediately.
In other Sanrio news, the global lifestyle company has signed Florida-based Just Play as master toy partner for its iconic Hello Kitty and friends brand.
Just Play has held the Hello Kitty plush license for the past two years and will now expand the range to include items such as the Hello Kitty Pretend Grill and Hello Kitty Birthday Cake set, figures and a dollhouse. Retail prices will range from US $2.99 to $79.99 and the toy collection will be made available at mass and online retail outlets. The Just Play line will be complemented by vehicles and RC toys from current Sanrio partner Jada Toys.
Furthermore, in collaboration with KIDdesigns and iHome, Sanrio launched Hello Kitty electronics and mobile accessories this past week at Toy Fair New York. New products from KIDdesigns include a Hello Kitty sing-along microphone and Hello Kitty-shaped Bluetooth speakers, meanwhile, the co-branded iHome Hello Kitty collection features multiple styles of noise-eliminating headphones and earbuds.