XR LLC Taps Michael Merrill to Manage Retail Expansion

Ariana Rodriguez
HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. — Adult specialty manufacturer XR LLC has hired industry veteran Michael Merrill to helm its growing XR Brands arm, managing the imprint’s expansion within the retail market.

Merrill moves to XR as brand manager from marketing manager at PHS International, where he used his design and merchandising skill to help create three distinct brands within the PHS umbrella, each catering to a specific market.

“We value Michael’s industry experience, exceptional art skills and his great personality,” XR CEO AriSuss said. “Michael will work on re-packaging our current product lines to create better synergy within the product family.”

Merrill said he’s kept a close eye on XR’s evolution and growth into new markets, including gay product manufacturing and merchandising and creating fetish-influenced collections made for a more “vanilla” market.

“I’ve been watching XR grow and get more ‘mainstream’ with their product offerings, and when the opportunity came available to be a part of this growth, I jumped on it,” Merrill said. “This expansion within the brick-and-mortar retail and manufacturing divisions is the final piece that completes XR’s ‘pie’ within the industry, and they’re looking to me to put it in place.”

Merrill also will be consulting with fellow industry veteran Randy Alvstad, who's been at the helm of the retail success of Spartacus Leathers, PHS International and XR retail success to date, and the two plan to combine forces once again to ignite the XR Brands expansion with their trademark “creative consulting.”

“For years we've combined our creativity, dynamic energy and intuitive strategy-building techniques which has resulted in award-winning success,” Merrill said. “Our business relationship has remained stellar and steady throughout the industry's evolution and we can't wait for you to see what we've got in store for XR!”

XR Brands encompasses six full lines of products, three of which will be debuting brand new features at the highly anticipated ANME Founders Show July 11-13 in Burbank, Calif. Merrill will be on hand to highlight the new additions to the company’s sex toy and fetish family.

The Size Matters collection of penis, nipple and clitoris pumps will showcase redesigned shelf-popping packaging and new product.

Zeus Electrosex, the industry’s first line of electrostimulation toys packaged and merchandised to appeal to consumers of all sexual appetites and aptitudes, will release a series of new devices that make it easy for any user to try a new level of intimate play.

And XR’s new Wand Essentials collection — featuring tools and attachments for classic electric massage wands and other similarly styled massagers — will debut with high-end packaging designed specifically for the mainstream and home party retail circuits. The new designs feature gender-neutral colors and imagery void of any sexual connotation, which makes the line ideal for boutiques and personal lifestyle stores.

“I analyze the brands we currently carry and figure out how to market them direct to the consumer using visual merchandising and advertising imagery,” Merrill said. “One of my goals is to solidify XR brand recognition across the board on the brick-and-mortar retail level.”

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