Toy industry veteran Vince Klaseus has joined Universal Pictures as president of the newly-created brand development division as the studio seeks to grow its family and children’s business. Klaseus will oversee centralizing Universal businesses and brands in the retail and non-theatrical content businesses, as well as implement a strategic plan to expand the company’s presence in the family and kids market. Klaseus is a veteran in the children’s toy industry having started his career at Mattel Inc., in El Segundo, and later serving as head of the global toy division at Walt Disney Co., in Burbank. Prior to Universal, Klaseus was a co-founder and chief executive of Cartwheel Kids, a Los Angeles toy company. Klaseus will compete against Disney which has the Disney Channel, Disney XD and ABC Family. Other competitors are Nickelodeon, a division of Viacom Inc. in New York; and Cartoon Network, a unit of Turner Broadcasting System, a division of Time Warner Inc. in New York. – both of which have significant Burbank operations. The Universal City studio’s entry in that market is Sprout, a cable network and video-on-demand service showing a mixture of PBS programming and original content for pre-schooler and their families. Universal Filmed Entertainment Group Chairman Jeff Shell said the studio has an opportunity to unify and grow its brands in ways to capitalize on existing franchises and characters and create new ones. “Vince is one of the best executives in the business at leveraging innovative strategies to create successful products, and he will be a terrific leader for this new division,” Shell said in a prepared statement.