Mattel partners with parenting website to expand China presence

A worker carries Barbie dolls to put them on the shelves at a toy store in Caracas

(Reuters) – Barbie maker Mattel Inc <MAT.O> said it would partner with Chinese parenting website Babytree to create an online learning platform for early childhood development, the latest in the No. 1 U.S. toymaker’s push into China.

The partnership with Babytree announced on Thursday comes two days after Mattel said it would sell its products on Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s <BABA.N> online marketplace Tmall.

Mattel said it would also work with Alibaba’s A.I. Lab to create products for child development through interactive learning as part of the deal.

Mattel and Babytree will provide child development assessment tools and customized parenting content and development curriculum, based on Mattel’s early childhood development brand, Fisher-Price, the company said.

Babytree, founded in 2006, provides families in China a platform to learn and exchange ideas on early education, child development tracking and nutrition.

Mattel posted holiday-quarter sales well below analysts’ estimates last month, as the toymaker battles weak demand in North America and rising competition.

(Reporting by Jessica Kuruthukulangara in Bengaluru)