Playboy Putting Emphasis on Nightlife, Product Licensing

CHICAGO — Playboy is placing larger bets on two operations to significantly boost revenue — product licensing and Playboy clubs.

CEO Scott Flanders told the Chicago Tribune this week that the company is pursuing joint ventures with proven operators to launch new nightclubs around the world.

He also wants to ramp up licensing the famous Playboy brand on apparel and other consumer products, particularly in emerging economies overseas.

Flanders said Playboy will open new venues in Mexico within months, in Miami next year and in Macau during 2011.

"Exploiting our brand will increasingly become our core business," he said. "There is no segment of our business that will grow as rapidly as our location-based entertainment.”

At its peak, the company owned or licensed dozens of clubs frequented by 1 million Playboy "key-holders.”

Flanders this week promoted licensing expert Alex Vaickus to the new post of president, with instructions to grow. He also will be in charge of unifying media operations.

"We under-resourced licensing and treated it as a nice-to-have ancillary business," Flanders said. "We believe licensing could be a lot bigger for us."

Flanders told the Tribune that Playboy has no plans to shut the magazine, Playboy TV has room to grow, and the company's subscription websites have held their own against piracy and competition from free sites.