Shoppers left their children at home and Yowies on the shelf during the coronavirus-fuelled stockpiling rush, which the troubled Australian chocolatier blames for another big quarterly sales decline.
The Perth-based confectionary firm said its customers across the US and Australia shunned novelty chocolate items for pantry staples when stockpiling groceries in March before steering clear of the shops altogether when the coronavirus lockdowns hit.
Yowie said it had been hurt by shoppers leaving their candy-loving kids at home.
The company also blamed a continued earnings bleed on the hefty advertising shadow cast by its biggest rival – Ferrero’s Kinder Surprise – although the Aussie firm again declined to directly name its competitor in a downbeat release to the ASX.
Quarterly sales of Yowie chocolate fell by 36 per cent to US$2.36 million ($A3.71 million).
Another $US682,000 was wiped from Yowie’s quarterly earnings as the company continued its years-long struggle to turn the ship around.
“Specifically, the buying rush in the first two weeks of March were focused on consumer staples, including bagged chocolate, but immediate consumption and novelty confections were not a priority,” global chief executive Mark Schuessler told the ASX on Friday.
Though not as severe a $US955,000 earnings loss for the December quarter, the company’s earnings loss to for the year date is US$1.87 million compared with $US1.16 million in FY19.
Yowie’s global sales drop comes as the Australian retail sector surged by a record 8.6 per cent in March as consumers stockpiled groceries in anticipation of coronavirus restrictions.
The company has stumbled through a series of poor financial results and diminishing sales since the brand’s re-emergence in 2012 and setback-riddled relaunch in the US.
Yowie’s chocolates rose to prominence in Australia in the late 1990s thanks to the collection of small plastic wildlife figurines contained within.
But the brand’s new owners have had to fend off a number of takeover tilts and – under pressure by the arrival of Kinder Surprise in the US – have repeatedly failed to improve the company’s fortunes.
The beleaguered chocolatier on Friday pledged to expand its online presence and cut administration costs but admitted it would still fall short of FY19 revenue.
Mr Schuessler said his company would continue to be aggressive in expanding consumer awareness and building the “Yowie story”.
At the first-half result in February – where losses nearly tripled to $US3 million – chairman Louis Carroll said the board was “painfully aware” of how poorly the business had been performing.
Yowie investors in November rejected executives’ pay packets for the fourth year running but again decided not to try to clear the decks of the current directors.
Shares in the company were worth 3.7 cents at 1135 AEST on Friday and have fallen 38 per cent in 2020 against a 22 per cent decline for the benchmark ASX/200.
Yowie shares rose to a post-relaunch high of 99 cents in August 2015.