Pandemic turns Tupperware into an ‘it brand’

U.S. & World

Some of Kevin Farrell’s colorful Tupperware products at a Tupperware party in Bellflower, Calif. in 2011. Tupperware Brands, on Wednesday posted third quarter profit of $34.4 million, more than quadruple the $7.8 million from the same quarter a year ago.(AP Photo/Garrett Cheen, File)

SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — Tupperware relied on social gatherings for explosive growth in the mid 20th century. In the 21st century, it is social distancing that is fueling sales.

Restaurant pain has turned into Tupperware’s gain with millions of people in a pandemic opening cookbooks again and looking for solutions to leftovers. They’ve found it again in Tupperware, suddenly an “it brand” five decades after what seemed to be its glory days.

The company had appeared to be on life support, posting negative sales growth in five of the last six years, a trend that seemed to be accelerating this year.

Long gone was the heyday of the Tupperware Party, first held in 1948, which provided women with a chance to run their own business. That system worked so well, Tupperware took its products out of stores three years later. But it has struggled as more families gave up making dinner from scratch and also dining out more.

Then the pandemic struck.

Profit during the most recent quarter quadrupled to $34.4 million, Tupperware reported Wednesday.

The explosion of sales caught almost everyone off guard and shares of Tupperware Brands Corp., which had been rising since April, jumped 35% to a new high for the year. Shares that could be had for around $1 in March, closed at $28.80 on Wednesday.

Tupperware stands apart from most other companies that have thrived in the pandemic. Unlike Netflix, Amazon.com, Peloton or even DraftKings, it doesn’t rely on a hi-tech platform.

However, it’s certainly not alone as the pandemic bends how we spend our time more rapidly perhaps than any point in our lifetimes.

On Monday the toymaker Hasbro said that its games division, which includes board games like Monopoly, saw a 21% jump in revenue.

On Wednesday, Tupperware reported quarterly adjusted earnings of $1.20 per share, triple what Wall Street had expected. Revenue of $477.2 million was about 30% higher than forecasts and 14% better than last year.

CEO Miguel Fernandez said the company, based in Orlando, Florida, had shifted more heavily to digital sales to accommodate those sheltering in the pandemic. He also noted “increased consumer demand.”

The company earlier this year had begun a turnaround campaign. Fernandez, who once led Avon, was named CEO in March just as COVID-19 infections began to spread in the U.S.

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