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Biden discusses holiday supply chain issues with business CEOs

NOEL KING, HOST:

The holidays are fast approaching, and the Biden administration is trying to reassure Americans that supply chain problems won't make shopping even more chaotic this year than it normally is. Yesterday, President Biden hosted the CEOs of some of the country's biggest retailers. Ynon Kreiz was there. He's the CEO of the toymaker Mattel. Mr. Kreiz, thanks for being with us.

YNON KREIZ: Hello, there. Good morning.

KING: What questions did you have for President Biden yesterday?

KREIZ: Well, it was a very good meeting. I was encouraged by President Biden's commitment to support the private sector in mitigating supply chain disruptions, including, in particular, port congestion. Mattel appreciates the administration leadership in helping to focus attention and resources on this important area. We were grateful, I have to say, for the invitation to the White House to share information with the administration about Mattel's perspective on supply chain and the toy industry as a whole in preparation towards the holiday season. The administration has been very open, listening to industry concerns, engaging with toy companies, retailers and other stakeholders, and we look forward to continuing this collaboration.

KING: What commitments did you hear from President Biden yesterday about easing supply chain problems? You mentioned the ports. What did he say exactly that left you feeling like this is going to work out?

KREIZ: Well, as I mentioned, there was strong commitment to continue to collaborate with the private sector. He was very much in listening mode and was keen to hear from us what issues we see. And certainly, there is commitment, engagement and action as well to help us mitigate for a disruption, especially as it relates to congestion at ports.

KING: What challenges do you see? I'm sure there are many American parents right now thinking about shopping for the holidays who would want to know, what - what's on Mattel's radar as we head into the holiday season? What are you worried about?

KREIZ: Well, we have been navigating supply chain disruption since the beginning of the pandemic, but have been able to work through those disruptions. We had very strong quarter that just ended in the third quarter, and we are expecting a strong holiday season with plenty of toys for children of all ages to play in the coming season.

KING: Have any of these transportation challenges over the past couple of months caused Mattel to rethink its manufacturing strategy and maybe shift more production to the United States?

KREIZ: We continuously assess and evolve our supply chain. Supply chain is one of our core strength and strongest assets, and a large part of our success has been due to the strength and capabilities we have in supply chain. This is something that we evolve. We continue to transform and see that as one of our competitive advantages. And with that, we're heading very confidently towards a strong holiday season.

KING: Are you able to share what some of those strengths are because we know that many companies really are struggling right now? Mattel, based on what you're telling me, seems to have figured something out. The company's been around for a long time. What are you doing that's working?

KREIZ: And it's not that we have not been impacted, but we have been able to work through those challenges. We anticipated short supply and longer lead times. We factored that into our planning and took very specific mitigating actions, leveraging our scale, expertise and flexible supply chain model in order to address these challenges. I can give you a few examples. We expedited procurement of raw materials. We invested in additional tooling and pulled forward manufacturing. We contracted ocean freight capacity in advance with secured access to additional ports and shipping lanes and continue to work closely with our retail partners to ensure we have the right products in the right quantities at the right time to satisfy as many holiday consumers as possible.

KING: So just a lot of advance planning.

Ynon Kreiz is the CEO of Mattel. Thank you for taking the time this morning.

KREIZ: Thank you so much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.