Sharper Image looks to licensing for growth

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Sharper Image Corporation has created a new division tasked with licensing The Sharper Image brand to manufacturers and retailers.

Licensing is an integral element of Sharper Image's strategy to grow its business, enabling the company to capitalize on the brand's heritage while expanding its reach.

Growth has been elusive for Sharper Image over the past couple of years, as sales have declined following bad publicity for its Ionic Breeze line and a lackluster merchandise assortment.

For the fiscal year ending Jan. 31, company sales tumbled 22 percent for a total of $507 million. Same-store sales decreased 25 percent during the same period. Catalog/direct marketing sales for the year dropped 19 percent for a total of $110.6 million. Internet sales decreased 21 percent for a total of $85.2 million.

Hoping to rectify the situation, Sharper Image, San Francisco, named turnaround specialist Jerry W. Levin chairman and interim CEO after company founder Richard Thalheimer left in September.

The first licensed products are expected to launch as early as fall 2007 and will cover product categories such as electronics, computers, personal care, automotive, bed and bath, kitchen, home furnishings, luggage, fitness, apparel, toys and games and unique gifts.

Sharper Image expects licensees to be able to sell the licensed products into mid-tier and other retail channels, such as electronics, specialty and department stores, thereby increasing the brand's consumer base. In addition, licensees will have the opportunity to sell into Sharper Image's retail stores, catalogs and e-commerce Web site.

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