Toy makers mount assault on Wal-Mart pricing

(February 12, 2004) - (New York-AP) -- Toymakers are taking a stand against Wal-Mart and its low-price business approach. To protect themselves and toy retailers they see as key to their profits, some manufacturers plan to deliver fewer hot toys to Wal-Mart and to have more exclusive launches at chains like Toys "R" Us. It's a rare instance of manufacturers challenging the biggest U-S retail juggernaut. Led by Wal-Mart, discount retailers won a war with other toy stores this past holiday season -- contributing to the bankruptcies of the famed F-A-O Schwarz and K-B Toys Inc. Jim Silver, publisher of the industry magazine Toy Book, says Wal-Mart is important to the toy business but manufacturers do not want its low-pricing strategies to devalue their business and put toy retailers out of business. But given the clout of Wal-Mart, which has a 21 percent share of the toy market, it remains to be seen whether these strategies will be effective. Wal-Mart spokeswoman Karen Burk says the company's focus will continue to be on providing value to customers.