Topps, the US-based company behind the Bazooka bubblegum and baseball cards, has reported a decline in sales and operating profits for 2002, caused mainly by the collapse in sales of its Pokemon branded confectionery items.
Sales for the year to 1 March 2003 were $290.1 million (€271.7m), compared with $300.2 million in the previous year, a 3.5 per cent decline in part due to a huge drop in sales from Pokemon products. Reflecting the fickle nature of all things entertainment related, sales of confectionery products based on the popular Japanese cartoon series fell $18.1 million to $6.0 million.
This decline also pushed down operating profit from $36.6 million to just $20.8 million in 2002.
Excluding Pokemon, confectionery sales were down by a more modest 0.7 per cent for the year, with lower consumer traffic at US retail stores and a fall in sales of its Baby Bottle Pop brand also pushing down Topps' turnover.
Arthur T. Shorin, chairman and CEO of Topps, said: "Within our confectionery segment, Ring Pop and Push Pop posted strong gains in the US. Yu-Gi-Oh Sticker Pops, introduced in the third quarter in the US and Canada, generated $1.4 million in sales for the year, and Pro Flip Pop performed well in Japan. Seasonal confectionery items scored double-digit gains, albeit on a relatively small base.
"Finally, initial quantities of Baby Bottle Pop with Candy Juice were introduced in the fourth quarter and early indications of consumer acceptance are encouraging. The product is showing strong preliminary sell-through at retail, seemingly without compromising sales of our traditional Bottle Pop product."
Shorin expects fiscal 2004 to be a much better year for the company. "We are entering the year with new TV advertising campaigns for our confectionery business and with plans to market several new products in addition to Baby Bottle Pop with Candy Juice. For example, Juicy Drop Pop, which is currently being tested in the UK, is planned to roll out later this year in the US and Europe.
"Additionally, Bazooka Joe is celebrating his 50th anniversary this year. We will celebrate this special milestone in the autumn with new Bazooka graphics, historical comics dating back to 1953 and a promotional prize programme."
Shorin concluded: "During fiscal 2004, we will continue to execute our long-term growth strategies. In confectionery, we are continuing to enhance our brands in terms of distribution, advertising and promotion. We are also adding a number of new products and are actively working towards the launch of a non-lollipop, non-chocolate product later in the fiscal year."