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Zapf Dolls Gather Dust in the U.S.

Germany's leading manufacturer of dolls, games and toys -- Zapf Creation -- has failed to meet its profit forecast for 2003 despite having revised its figures downwards three times last year. On Tuesday, Zapf reported profits of €23.5 million ($29.5 million), missing the €26 million mark it had set in November 2003. Zapf's shares were sent into into free fall by the news. Analysts blame the company's poor performance in the U.S. market for the dismal results. While Zapf products, such as the doll Baby Born, are top sellers in Germany, in the United States, the company couldn't keep pace with more fashion-conscious dolls such as Mattel's Barbie dolls. Zapf hopes that redesigning the Baby Born doll will boost its performance in 2004, and has said it plans to work more closely with retailers to be able to react more quickly to changes in the U.S. market.