Donal Reddington on mass customization, crowdsourcing and digital manufacturing

Build-A-Bear Workshop expands into Germany

Build-A-Bear Workshop, Inc. a retailer of customized stuffed animals, has announced an agreement with Choose Germany A/S as a new international franchisee.  Choose Germany A/S is a subsidiary of Choose Holding A/S a Denmark company which also holds the franchise rights to Build-A-Bear Workshop in Denmark, Sweden and Norway.

The franchise group is led by John Kristensen and Soren Nielsen, and currently has five stores in Denmark and one store in Sweden; the first store in Norway is scheduled to open in late October.  “We are eager to introduce our brand in Germany,” said Chairman and Chief Executive Bear, Maxine Clark.  “Germany is a large and exciting market for Build-A-Bear Workshop and we are fortunate to be working with our highly experienced and successful franchisee partners.  John, Soren and their team understand the Build-A-Bear Workshop brand, product and store experience and the German market.  Since opening their first store in Copenhagen in 2004 they have successfully expanded stores and raised brand awareness.  In Hamburg, they have identified two prime real estate locations where stores will open later this year.”

“Germany can’t wait for Build-A-Bear Workshop”, said Soren Nielsen, Choose Germany A/S chief executive bear(!).  “This unique retail-entertainment brand appeals to kids of all ages and allows each Guest to create and customize their stuffed animal.  Our experience and success with Build-A-Bear Workshop in Denmark gives us confidence in our ability to grow the brand in Germany.  We are excited about our two initial store locations in Hamburg in the Alstertal-Einkaufszentrum shopping center and the Europa Passage arcade.”

 Build-A-Bear Workshop expects to continue to grow internationally through third party franchisees.  As of July 1, 2006, international franchisees had 22 stores open in eight countries and by year end expect to have 29 to 31 stores open.

The company currently operates more than 255 stores in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Ireland as well as franchise stores in Europe, Asia and Australia.  In November 2004, the company expanded the make-your-own concept from stuffed animals to dolls with the opening of its first “friends 2B made” stores, where Guests can make their own doll friends.  In April 2006, Build-A-Bear Workshop acquired The Bear Factory Limited and Amsbra, Ltd. adding company-owned stores in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

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