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WSJ: Beate Uhse Focusing More on Lifestyle Than Lust

WSJ: Beate Uhse Focusing More on Lifestyle Than Lust
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Jul 22, 2015 9:00 AM PDT    Text size: 

FLENSBURG, Germany — German adult powerhouse Beate Uhse AG is trying to clean up its act — so to speak.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the company’s recent annual meeting was anything but titillating and focused more on e-commerce, “omni-channel retail” and the remodeling of its store interiors than porn.

“Hot topics included exchange rates and a current three-phase restructuring,” the Journal said.

The company’s sex shops is the only chain listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. Trying not to ruffle investors, chief executive Serge van der Hooft’s speech at the meeting focused on exchange rates and a current three-phase restructuring, rather than adult products.

Beate Uhse is trying to “make the jump from sex shop to lifestyle retailer,” according to an industry watcher, a move that’s also reflected in the 69 year-old company’s tame annual report that doesn't mention "adult lifestyle" until 800 words deep.

Although the company is considered an attractive long-term “sin stock” like tobacco and alcohol, investor’s are still skittish about sex, according the article. “There’s simply a bigger moral issue with sex,” Gerry Sullivan, portfolio manager of the USA Mutuals Barrier Fund, told the Journal. Sullivan said it’s hard enough addressing some people’s concerns about tobacco or defense stocks. “If I’d started to talk about sex, too. Oh no — couldn’t do that.”

But Doreen Schink, a member of the firm’s investor relations team said the perception of the company is improving and pointed to a refocus in 2013 aimed at attracting women by adopting a new logo and shifting its product line.

“Fifty Shades of Grey” and “Sex and the City” also helped with the shift — each referenced in investor documents and at the annual meeting.

Schink said the plan is to pitch analysts and investors on the company’s low share price that doesn’t truly show the power of its “unique” brand.

The article pointed to Amorelie, an online sex-toy shop start-up that has seen sales surge since 2012 including a buyout by German broadcaster ProSieben as an example of one company that’s cleared the investor hurdle by appealing to women and couples.

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