Saturday, April 18, 2015

International Intrigue

Our look at the mid 1970's Annual Reports of Topps Chewing Gum continues, today it's the 1975 edition, issued as Topps was celebrating 25 years of issuing baseball cards.  The cover is oh-so 70's:

The back cover was identical; not sure if it was to save costs but it seems possible.  

1974 saw Topps pay tribute yet again to an iconic baseball player.  This time it was the new (and still rightful IMHO) all-time home run king Hank Aaron getting the full Sy Berger treatment and a nice presentation of his Topps cards:

The board of directors is still an austere bunch, featuring some progression of the Shorin family. Manuel Yellen, who was on the Board from its 1972 inception, was the retired CEO of Lorillard Tobacco.  He started there in 1933 and would have been a longtime business associate of the Shorin family from the American Leaf Tobacco Company days.  His is not the father of  current Federal Reserve head honcho Janet Yellen though.

The big trend in fiscal year 1975 was more international expansion and conquest for Topps. Manufacturing operations had begun in Halle Germany as August Storck began making Bazooka under license.  Topps was so impressed with them that they used a nice shot of their plant in the annual report

Of further note was the kickoff of Nigerian operations and the killing off of A&BC Chewing Gum in England.  I plan to take an in depth look at the Topps/A&BC relationship at some point but it's interesting that once the A&BC takeover occurred, Topps moved manufacturing to the US on a temporary basis.

In fact, the report mentions that "Throughout fiscal 1975, Topps finished products continued to be sold to distributors in international markets not served by licensees. Most of the merchandise was manufactured at the Topps Duryea plant, and we also purchased some products for these markets from our licensees."

This was only their third annual report but things were already becoming drier and more businesslike within. Net sales were $50.111 million, a 13.3% increase over the prior year. Other fiscal highlights concerned their ability to borrow money at the prime rate -- no doubt due to to the Shorin family's almost 70 year affiliation with Manufacturers Hanover Bank-- and a big increase in debt (that might be a lowlight). Part of their listed liabilities was an estimate for the cost of premium redemptions from various wholesalers & retailers via their longstanding "prize" certificate offers. In the fiscal year ending 1974 this amount was $630,000 while in FY ending 1975 it was $581,000. I've always wondered about the cost of this program and it is roughly 1% of net sales in the mid-70's.

Next post we'll time trip back to the U.S. Bicentennial.

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