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Helen of Troy Limited (HELE), founded in Texas in 1968, is a designer, developer, importer, and distributor of a variety of brand name consumer products in the Personal Care and Housewares segments.[1] Helen of Troy has distribution centers for their North American customers in 3 locations in the US and Canada totaling 1,960,000 sq. feet of distribution space. Distribution centers are also located in the Netherlands, the UK, Peru, Mexico and Venezuela which service customers outside of the US and Canada.[2] In 1994 the company was reincorporated as Helen of Troy Limited in Bermuda.[3]

Business Overview

Helen of Troy’s products are separated into two segments, Personal Care and Housewares. In 2010, Personal Care accounted for 69% of sales and Housewares accounted for the remaining 31%.[4] Some products are sold under licenses from third parties such as Procter & Gamble Company and Revlon Consumer Products Corporation. Helen of Troy’s licensed trademarks include but are not limited to Vidal Sassoon®, Revlon®, Dr. Scholl’s®, Scholl®, Sea Breeze®, Vitapointe®, Toni&Guy®, Bed Head® and Veet®. The company also owns some of their own trademarks, such as OXO®, Good Grips®, Softworks®, OXO SteeL®, Touchables®, Candela®, Brut®, Brut Revolution®, Brut XT®, Infusium 23®, Ammens®, Ogilvie®, Final Net®, Vitalis®, Condition®, SkinMilk®, Epil-Stop®, Salon Tools™, Studio Tools®, Hot Things®, Pro Beauty Tools™, Caruso®, Karina®, Dazey®, DCNL®, Nandi®, Isobel®, Carel®, Amber Waves®, Helen of Troy®, Hot Tools®, Salon Edition®, Belson®, Belson Pro®, Gold ‘N Hot®, Curlmaster®, Pro Touch®, Tourmaline Tools®, Fusion Tools®, Ultra Tech®, Wigo®, Profiles Spa®, Comare®, Mega Hot®, Shear Technology®, Hot Shot Tools®, Brazilian Heat®, and Smart Heat®.[5]

Business Segments

Personal Care

Helen of Troy’s Personal Care segment includes products in two categories. Under the appliance and accessories category the primary products offered include hair dryers, curling irons, straightening irons, hot air brushes, brush irons, hairsetters, paraffin baths, facial brushes, facial saunas, manicure and pedicure systems, foot baths, personal massagers, hair clippers and trimmers, exfoliators, shavers, hard and soft-bonnet hair dryers, hair styling implements, brushes, combs, mirrors, utility implements and hair accessories. The grooming, skin care and hair care solutions category includes products such as liquid hair styling products, treatments, shampoos, skin care products, fragrances, deodorants, antiperspirants, and hair depilatory products.[6]

Helen of Troy is aggressive in continued growth of this segment and being able to accommodate a variety of customer segments. 255 new products were introduced in the fiscal year ending 2010 and the company plans to introduce another 234 products in the next fiscal year.[6] Unlike the housewares segment, the Personal Care segment sells significantly through beauty supply retailers and wholesalers, in addition to the various other channels that both segments sell through. [3]

Housewares

Products primarily sold in Helen of Troy’s Housewares segment includes kitchen tools, cutlery, food storage containers, bar and wine accessories, kitchen mitts, kitchen trivets, barbeque tools, tea kettles, household cleaning tools, trash cans, storage/organization products, hand and garden tools, as well as rechargeable lighting products.[6]

Products in this segment are sold under Helen of Troy’s OXO brand pipeline which includes OXO®, OXO SteeL®, Good Grips®, SoftWorks®, Candela® and Touchables®. Over 100 new items were released in fiscal year ending 2010 and over 125 items are expected for 2011 release.[6] All products are developed based on the principles of the user-focused design philosophy Universal Design. OXO had an annual growth rate in sales of 27% in the years 1991-2009.[7]

Recently the company developed their OXO Tot™ line of products aimed at young toddlers, further expanding their user base. The products are expected to be available near the end of the fiscal year 2011.[6]

Economics of the Business

Helen of Troy’s revenues depend on a wide variety of factors. Factors that have recently had an adverse impact on revenues include economic conditions reducing customer spending, foreign exchange loss, and supplier closures. Some positive influences on revenues include expansion of product lines and acquisitions, such as the acquisition of Ogilvie in 2008, which contributed $2.71 million in North America’s fiscal year 2010 net revenues.[8]

Cost of goods sold and SG&A (Selling and General Administrative) expenses are fairly steady, averaging 56.57% and 30.4% of net sales in the fiscal years ending 2008, 2009 and 2010, respectively.[4] However, with such a large brand portfolio Helen of Troy’s bottom line can be affected significantly by impairment of intangibles. In 2009 revenues were roughly $623 million but earnings suffered and the company realized a net loss of $57 million, down $108 million from the previous fiscal year. This can be mainly attributed to a $102.27 impairment of goodwill and certain trademarks in Helen of Troy’s Personal Care segment.[9]

In fiscal year ending 2010, Helen of Troy had generated revenues of $647 million and a positive $71.8 million in net earnings.[10]

Competitors

Personal Care

Procter & Gamble Company - Procter and Gamble is a company that produces many products and many different product lines. Their products that are direct competitors to Helen of Troy are in their Beauty and Grooming business segment. Some of their well known brands are Gillette, CoverGirl, Old Spice, and Olay. Through these brands and their other brands, PG has competitive products in nearly all Beauty and Grooming segments. PG focuses heavily on marketing their products as well as product placement in their stores. By making their products highly visible in stores and through impressive marketing campaigns they maintain a competitive advantage over companies that do not have the financial resources that PG can funnel toward their products. PG focuses its efforts into first having the customer recognize their product and the sale of the product, but they also focus on the product the customer eventually uses. They want to provide a cutting edge product while still maintaining high quality standards that their customers expect from PG products. Research and development spending by PG is very high and effective. By constantly supplying the industry with new products as well as redesigned products PG hopes to maximize their competitive advantages over their competitors. [11]

PG sells their Beauty and Grooming products to all different kinds of retailers, from large companies such as Wal-mart to small town pharmacies. Wal-mart is a great source of revenue for PG as sales to Wal-mart have provided about 16% of revenue in the past three years for PG. Getting their products into as many stores as possible is a goal that PG strives for. They believe that they have superior and better recognized products than their competitors and by having the products easily assessable for all potential customers they hope to increase sales.

Housewares

Lifetime Brands Inc - Lifetime Brand is a company that specializes in providing high quality kitchen ware and home decorations. Some of their brands include Farberware, Kitchen Aid, Cuisinart, Elements, and many others. Lifetime brands pride themselves on innovations and redesigning their products to better serve their customers. In 2011 they hope to bring between 4000 and 5000 new or redesigned products into the market. The company relies mostly on suppliers from overseas to produce their products. Lifetime Brands customers are big box retail stores such as Target and Wal-Mart as well as specialty stores such as Bed bath and Beyond. They have also begun selling their products on Amazon to increase their internet presence. [12]

Kitchenware is lifetime brands main source of revenues. In this market they own or have licensing rights to three of the most recognizable kitchenware companies in Faberware, Kitchen Aid, and Cuisinart. Faberware is a brand that sells almost every conceivable thing you can think of for your kitchen. They specialize in cutlery, food appliances, and food storage. Faberware started in 1900 when S.W Faber pounded tin into different kinds of bowls and cooking sheets. Kitchen Aid produces with great quality a line of different kitchen appliances. What they are most well known for is their standing mixers, but they also produce many other products such as dishwashers and refrigeration products. Cuisinart like Faberware sells a vast selection of kitchen related products. Although they do not specialize in any one area of kitchenware, they provide quality products across their product line.

Lifetime Brands also has companies that they either own or have the license to that produce Tabletop products as well as Home Décor products. The companies that produce tabletop products focus on dinnerware products as well as flatware products. The home décor companies produce products such as picture frames and decorative shelving units.

Marketing Strategies

The philosophy that Helen of Troy implies to its marketing tactics is to market products through a mixture of outside sales representatives and internal sales staff. They are then supported by other divisions of the company such as internal marketing, category management, creative services, engineering, and customer service staff which allows the sales team to effectively distribute industry leading products and industry leading prices.[13]

Product [14]– Helen of Troy markets and sells and extensive line of personal care products. In addition, they have created a growing line of houseware products that is personally manufactured. Helen of Troy has competed with competitors by increasing the amount of new products in each of the past few years through new developments, market innovations, and improving existing products. They have introduced 474 and 389 products in 2006 and 2007, respectively. In 2008 they made a leap by introducing 526 new products to the market and have an estimated number of 915 in 2009.

Price – The high amount of products that are produced from Helen of Troy makes it difficult to individually price each product so the company has innovated a regional pricing method. The regional managers are responsible for pricing, distribution strategies, and generating sales. By grouping these tasks it allows the regional managers to effectively price their products at the appropriate price.

Place – Helen of Troy currently markets its products in about 70 countries around the world. The most success has come from the United States which controls and average of 80% of its total net sales.[15] The company operates by selling their products through mass merchandisers, drug store chains, warehouse clubs, catalogs, grocery stores, specialty stores, beauty supply retailers and wholesalers, distributors, and direct to consumers.

Promotion [16]– Through extensive advertising and the sales of a variety of products, it enables Helen of Troy to have a portfolio of widely recognized companies. Helen of Troy authorizes the following trademarks: Revlon, Vidal Sassoon, Dr. Scholl's, Health o meter, Sunbeam, TIGI, Tony&Guy, and BeadHead. By having numerous successful companies under the name of Helen of Troy, it generates brand recognition with its other certified trademarks. Helen of Troy has sustained success in the advertising field through television and print media, as well as popular industry trade shows.

Another source of promotion Helen of Troy uses to increase in brand recognition is to invest in selective sports and entertainment locations. Helen of Troy is a current sponsor of NCAA Football by becoming the title sponsor of the Sun Bowl game in 2004. The Sun Bowl is one of the longest post seasonal college football games which extends over 70 years. In 2007, the Sun Bowl has moved to the official name of “Brut Sun Bowl” and is broadcasted by CBS Sports annually.

Supply Chain Management

Helen of Troy has contracts with unaffiliated manufacturers in the Far East, mostly consisting of China, to manufacture roughly 85 percent of its appliance, accessories, and housewares products. The relationship between Helen of Troy and its manufacturers in the Far East has been strong and in existence since the arrival of Helen of Troy. By building a long standing relationship with its manufacturers it allows Helen of Troy to sustain a competitive advantage through their Supply Chain Management compared to competitors. The success of the manufacturers has come from the production of tools such as formulas and moldings to produce products at low costs and in an efficient time frame. Helen of Troy employs numerous manufacturing employees that oversee the technical and quality controls of the system. They also pay the manufacturers well in order to have the best workers and to keep them happy and motivated.[17]

The policy that is run through the company involves the distributors and customers to have little inventory levels that will only last a few months. Helen of Troy is expected to keep up with maintaining inventory levels by distributing often and early. The company implies a system that is to order products well in advance due to the anticipation of sales based on seasonal events. Helen of Troy does not have any long term contracts with its suppliers or customers because they believe in maintaining relationships that allow more flexibility, whether it be the quantity or the delivery date of the product.

Helen of Troy owns nearly 2,000,000 square feet of distribution space throughout the globe to ease operations. The manufactures ship to either North America, Internationally, or directly to customers. In North America, shipments are made to the West Coast of the United States. Once arrived in the Unites States it is then shipped to distribution centers located in El Paso, Texas, Southaven, Mississippi, and Toronto, Canada by either truck or railroad services. When the inventory is arrived to the distribution centers, it is then dealt out to various locations throughout North America by ground transportation. For the products sold outside of North America, they are shipped to distribution centers in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Brazil, Peru, and Venezuela. They are then shipped out to other distributors or retailers throughout the rest of the world.[18]

Financial Metrics

With Helen of Troy Limited selling consumer goods that are not necessities, it is easy to assume they would affected by the economic situation in the past few years. Surprisingly, their revenues have stable from years ending Febuary 2008 until Febuary 2010, ranging from $622 million to $652 million. This is a great sign because if they can keep their revenues through the past few years, this leads to the assumption that they will have higher revenues when the economic situation becomes more favorable. This is backed by an 8.2% quarterly revenue growth rate year over year. Helen of Troy Limited was able to decrease selling expenses and these cuts are important to point out because through the tough economy they have realized the importance of cutting costs. Another point that stands out when comparing competitors is that economies of scale is important for profitability. This trend is observed throughout the comparisons, but even though Helen of Troy Limited is much smaller than P&G, they have great operating metrics. They also trade at a much lower P/E ratio than P&G. Helen of Troy has weathered the current storm and seems to have learned from this situation, this will help them become more profitable in the future when consumers return to spending. In 2010 Helen of Troy had a return on assets of 8.6%, they have also been decreasing liabilities consistently over the past 3 years. Their current ratio is 3.326 which shows they are stable and protects them. Helen of Troy is set to do well in the future because they have stayed profitable in these terrible conditions and worked to better position themselves in case of future problems.[19]

Image:Hele.jpg‎

[20]

Company Level Analysis

SWOT Analysis

Strengths

Helen of Troy has a strong portfolio with consumer brands such as Revlon®, Vidal Sassoon®, Bed Head®, Pro Beauty Tools™, Hot Tools®, Dr. Scholl’s®, Scholl®, Mega Hot®, Brazilian Heat®, Gold ‘N Hot® and Veet®. [21] There is a strong competitive advantage in having such recognized brands that Helen of Troy has introduced 255 new products in 2010 and will introduce 234 new products in the fiscal year 2011 under such brand names. [21]

Helen of Troy has a partnership with their Far East manufacturers lasting more than 30 years. This productive relationship brings advantages for Helen of Troy as they can co-develop the engineering and innovation of future products, control the supply chain and sourcing to lower costs, as well as have more ethnically focused appliances for the home and hair care. [22]

Weakness

The current trend in the retail industry has encouraged the growth of mass merchandisers to completely alter consumers shopping patterns and consequently Helen of Troy’s competitive presence. Helen of Troy’s most popular products were sold in grocery and drugstores channels, whereas now Helen of Troy’s products are now facing competition with private label brands when their products are being sold at super centers and club stores like Wal-Mart and Bed Bath & Beyond. [21] These mass merchandisers influence the packaging, pricing, delivery and other requirements for their products that Helen of Troy must now maintain with in order to compete. These different demands have an effect on Helen of Troy’s inventory practices, logistics and different customer-supplier relationships they have. [21]

Helen of Troy experiences a seasonal fluctuation in revenue due to customer shopping patterns. The net sales revenue in the third fiscal quarter of 2010 was 29% of fiscal year 2010 and the first fiscal quarter was approximately 22%. The company consequently experiences a working capital fluctuation. [23]


Opportunity

Helen of Troy completed the acquisition of Kaz, Inc. on January 3, 2011 which has projected sales exceeding $400 million over the coming fiscal year. Kaz, Inc. is presently the world leader in health care and home environment consumer solutions, marketing under brand names like Vicks(R) and Braun(R) under license from The Procter & Gamble Company, Honeywell(R) under license from Honeywell, and Stinger(R), Softheat(R) and Kaz(R), owned by Kaz, Inc. [24]

Helen of Troy has now added products like vaporizers, humidifiers, digital, infrared and non-invasive thermometers, blood pressure monitors, hot/cold health care therapy, air purifiers, seasonal humidifiers, heaters, fans, and dehumidifiers, and lawn and garden products to their product categories. [24]

Challenge/Threats

The Personal Care segment of Helen of Troy depends significantly upon the trademarks licensed under The Vidal Sassoon®, Revlon®, Sunbeam®, Health o meter®, Dr. Scholl’s®, Scholl®, Bed Head®, Toni&Guy®, Sea Breeze® and Veet® as these are the most important segment of business. [25] Helen of Troy must pay minimum royalities and renewal fees, meet minimum sales volumes and spend a contracted minimum amount of advertising. [25] The licensors also have to approve any packaging changes done to the products, and as competition with mass merchandisers continues to grow packaging is the most important aspect to market a product and any delay from licensors can impose a great threat to the products sales as price fluctuates.

All of the products Helen of Troy offers are manufactured in China and are then transported to the United States. There are many risks from doing business overseas such as labor laws, regulations, treaties, tax laws, trade barriers, currency exchange rate fluctuations and shipping costs. [26]

An even bigger cause for concern is the political and cultural environments and the effects they can have on the operations of Helen of Troy. Thirty years ago when Helen of Troy first started contracting labor it was cheap and always available. The developing nation has undergone intense political and social changes that cannot guarantee the availability of cheap labor for the future, which would cause Helen of Troy to have to relocate or exit business; both options would be detrimental to Helen of Troy. China has also experienced fluctuation rates of inflation which Helen of Troy has to compensate for to keep their products at a stable price. During fiscal year of 2010, the Chinese Renminbi remained moderately stable against the U.S.dollar but there is always a threat of fluctuation. [26]

Importing from China also results in a long production lead time and transportation cycle for Helen of Troy. This requires Helen of Troy to carefully forecast demand and supply of their products. Recently, it has been complicated to secure cargo capacity on ocean freights at a fairly contracted price. [26] The threat of increased prices for ocean freight transportation will affect Helen of Troy’s ability to deliver products here in the United States.

Industry Level Analysis

Porter's 5 Forces Analysis

Threat of new entrants: Medium – Helen of Troy offers individual products to consumers so there are no high switching costs between Helen of Troy and a competitor, which leaves the barrier to entry quite low. Helen of Troy has such a large variety of quality products in segments like hair care and home appliances that loyalty to the brands provided by Helen of Troy lowers the threat of new companies to enter this industry.

Power of suppliers: High – Helen of Troy’s suppliers are their manufacturers who are located in China. One of the biggest threats to Helen of Troy’s business model is the reliance on these Far East manufacturers and the challenges that arise from transportation costs, labor laws, trade barriers and currency exchange rate fluctuations.

Power of buyers: Medium - The purchasing power of one customer on Helen of Troy’s revenues is marginally low. The products that Helen of Troy offers are purchased in small quantities, usually 1 item, and can be used for a long period of time without replacement. Customer shopping patterns have changed over the past few years toward becoming more price sensitive now that mass merchandisers are offering the same products for much lower prices. This gives buyers more power over Helen of Troy because the ease at which they can select a competitor’s product.

Availability of substitutes: High – The possibility of a consumer selecting a competitor’s product who has similar packaging, design and purpose is incredibly high due to the substitutes by private-label brands from mass merchandisers.

Competitive rivalry: High – The evolution of mass merchandisers beginning to sell substitute products to compete with Helen of Troy is going to be a growing business in itself. Helen of Troy experiences slow growth as it is a mature company in a mature industry and there is not much to differentiate their products from competitors because they serve similar purpose. Helen of Troy has loyal customers dedicated to the brand name, but in tough economic times the availability of lower prices for the same product increases the competitive rivalry.



References

  1. Yahoo! Finanace, HELE: Porftolio
  2. Helen of Troy Limited (HELE) Form 10-K, Fiscal Year 2010, Item 1, "Manufacturing and Distribution" p. 8
  3. 3.0 3.1 Helen of Troy Limited (HELE) Form 10-K, Fiscal Year 2010, Item 1, "Overview" p. 3
  4. 4.0 4.1 Helen of Troy Limited (HELE) Form 10-K, Fiscal Year 2010, Item 7, "Results of Operations" p. 33
  5. Helen of Troy Limited (HELE) Form 10-K, Fiscal Year 2010, Item 1, "Licenses and Trademarks" p. 7
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Helen of Troy Limited (HELE) Form 10-K, Fiscal Year 2010, Item 1, "Products" p. 6-7
  7. About OXO
  8. Helen of Troy Limited (HELE) Form 10-K, Fiscal Year 2010, Item 7, "Sales Revenue by Segment" p. 36
  9. Helen of Troy Limited (HELE) Form-10K, Fiscal Year 2009, Item 7, "Overview" p. 32
  10. Yahoo! Finance, HELE: Income Statement
  11. Procter & Gamble Co. (PG) Form 10-K, Item 1, Business, p. 2
  12. Lifetime Brands Inc (LCUT) Form 10-K, Item 1, Business Segments, p. 4
  13. Helen of Troy: Sales & Marketing
  14. Helen of Troy: Products
  15. Helen of Troy: Sales & Marketing
  16. Helen of Troy: Sales & Marketing
  17. Helen of Troy: Manufacturing & Distribution
  18. Helen of Troy: Manufacturing & Distribution
  19. Helen of Troy Limited (HELE) Yahoo Finance
  20. Helen of Troy Limited (HELE) Competitors
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 Helen of Troy Limited (HELE) Form 10-K, Fiscal Year 2010, Competition p. 10
  22. Helen of Troy Limited (HELE) Form 10-K, Fiscal Year 2010, Personal Care p. 7
  23. Helen of Troy, Form 10-K, Fiscal Year 2010, Seasonality p.11
  24. 24.0 24.1 PRNewsire Article
  25. 25.0 25.1 Helen of Troy, Form 10-K, Fiscal Year 2010, License Agreements, Trademarks and Patents p.9
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 Helen of Troy, Form 10-K, Fiscal Year 2010, Risk Factors p.14
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