Over the years you have lived through many changes with me, which generally tended to have a very positive outcome. This time I unfortunately only have very sad news for you.
In 1986 I introduced my very first vinyl collection. Now - 23 years later - I will close my manufactory towards the end of the year 2008.
There have been tremendously successful years, but there were also very tough ones. Either way, one thing was always of utmost importance to me: the joy and the ambition to always create increasingly better dolls.
Through the years I've gone through a lot of changes, partly deliberate, partly because I had to. The world of dolls is constantly changing, for which I'm in part responsible. To get better, to work more elaborately and to achieve higher quality standards, has made collectors and retailers alike more and more demanding as a result. The dolls became more and more expensive in the making, due to the material and wig costs on the one hand and the need to employ more and more members of staff on the other. In the last few years I employed between 50 and 80 members of full time staff.
In addition people's financial situation has got more difficult in the last two years. Economic problems the world over, rising energy costs, and more recently the credit crunch, the crashing property market and many other factors have contributed towards people becoming less inclined to spend their money as easily as they could in the years before. Times got harder and the unfavourable US exchange has not helped the situation.
For the five years between 2003 and 2007 we have unfortunately experienced very big losses as a result of this. Because we have compensated for the bad exchange rate by charging a much lower rate to our American collectors. But because the dollar got weaker and weaker, in 2007 the losses were so enormous that we simply couldn't sustain them anymore. We had to increase the doll retail price in the US this year to get closer to the real exchange rate. For our American collectors this meant of course a lot of money. But we just couldn't keep calculating our dollar prices based on an exchange rate of $1.15, where in fact it was closer to $1.60 to the Euro. The simple truth is that to sustain a company like mine that produces high quality dolls in Germany a set amount have to be sold each year. Unfortunately the orders we're getting aren't enough any more.
As a result I have no choice but to close my manufactory by the end of 2008. We will fulfil all orders of the Sommer Kinder, the Club Minis as well as all orders that will get to us by mid November .
I think that the last collections will become as popular as my first collection in 1986 was at the time. I am sure that they will increase in value.
I have spent nearly a quarter of a century in my manufactory and worked there with passion, much discipline and a lot of idealism.
I have enjoyed working with my team, whom I would like to thank once more for their hard work and commitment. Some of them have been with me since the very beginning.
I thank my collectors and retailers for their faithfulness over the years.
I have experienced many highs as well as a few lows during this time but the pleasure I have been able to bring to collectors worldwide has always been the central driving force for me. I hope that Himstedt collectors will continue to cherish all the different dolls that were created and lovingly crafted from the manufactory here in Paderborn.
I am sure that I'll remain in the world of dolls in some shape or form, but how exactly this will be I don't know yet. One thing is certain though: it won't be with a manufactory.
I wish you all the best.