The price drop brings suggested retail prices on these dolls down from $188 to $208 to $125 to $139. A few special dolls will be priced at $149 or $199. The company has attributed the price drop partially to the economy, and partially to increased production efficiencies in its Belpre, Ohio plant. Also, the company has faced stiff competition from companies producing similar baby dolls overseas, for lower prices. The new pricing will be across the board on infant, baby, and toddler dolls.
The price reductions are in response to lower priced knock-off dolls introduced by offshore competition over the past two years. This marketplace situation has been compounded by the slowdown in consumer spending related to the soft economy. The lower prices offered by Lee Middleton Original Dolls are structured to attract new doll collectors and to encourage existing doll collectors to extend their collection of Lee Middleton Original Dolls, said Iain Macfarlane, chief executive officer of Lee Middleton Original Dolls.
In response to the off-shore infringements, Lee Middleton Original Dolls is now taking legal action against a number of companies producing lower quality, knock-off dolls in China and Taiwan. These knock-off dolls have violated our copyright protections with exact copies of our artist-designed doll faces and, in some cases, the unique hands and feet of our dolls, added Macfarlane.
Macfarlane said that extensive efforts to lower production costs at the companys Belpre, Ohio, manufacturing facility support the strategy to reduce prices. A five-week shutdown in March and April enabled the company to modify work flow processes, complete maintenance and upgrade equipment, and identify opportunities to increase efficiency through new technology and systems.
In spite of the price decreases, the company has stated emphatically that the quality of the dolls and the materials used to make the dolls will not change.
This move is expected to thrill collectors, and retailers alike. Retailers think this is a bold move, and will generate new sales and new collectors, especially in light of the slow economy.
Below is the full text of the message from Lee Middleton Original Dolls, Inc. President Tim Voss, which was sent to retailers this morning and also posted on their web site:
Message from the President, Tim Voss
"This year marks a momentous occasion as we celebrate twenty-five years of creating dolls with the most beautiful faces. At this mid-point in our anniversary year, I would like to announce a very important and exciting change for you.
Collecting the extraordinary quality of our Artist Studio Collection® (ASC) just got easier! While maintaining our 100% commitment to excellence, we have made a permanent reduction in our retail pricing. This means that suggested retail prices, which were $188-$208 for our core ASC dolls, have now been reduced to $125-$139.
We have taken this unprecedented step in recognition of the impact that today's difficult economy has had on your ability to complete all of the desired additions to your collections. These new, lower retail prices ensure your ability to collect these original, high-quality, artist dolls that you know and lovestill manufactured at our Belpre, Ohio, factory. Lee Middleton Original Dolls has been, and continues to be, the market leader for 25 years.
This is an exciting time to add to your collections. We thank you for your loyalty and support, and rememberLee Middleton Original Dolls are "still the Original, still the Best, and now at lower prices!"
Tim Voss, President