Soon-to-be-independent housewares giant Tupperware Corp. will be a major force in international markets, where Rubbermaid Inc. is trying to boost its sales. Last year, about 80 percent of Tupperware's $1.3 billion in sales were outside the United States.
In contrast, only about 16 percent of Rubbermaid's 1994 sales of $2.2 billion were outside the United States. But the Wooster, Ohio-based Rubbermaid plans to boost that to about 33 percent of sales within three years, according to spokeswoman Lorrie Paul Crum.
``International is outpacing domestic sales,'' said Crum in a telephone interview.
Tupperware's parent company, Premark International Inc. of Deerfield, Ill., recently announced plans to spin off the Kissimmee, Fla., subsidiary by mid-1996 to create value for Premark shareholders and to improve its ability to attract and retain key executives, Premark said in a news release. Warren Batts, Premark chairman and chief executive officer, said Tupperware ``is well-positioned to continue its growth as an independent company.''
Crum would not comment directly on Tupperware, but said her firm ``expects the competition to be more formidable in every market here and abroad.''
``We're paying very close attention to every bit of competition,'' she said.
Tupperware's major market is Europe, which represents about 40 percent of sales, said Premark spokeswoman Christine Hanneman. Its European injection molding plants are in France, Belgium, Greece and Portugal.
Rubbermaid made a strategic push into European housewares in March when it bought French plastic housewares firm Injectaplastic SA, a $19 million-per-year firm with an injection molding plant in Groissant. At the time, it said it wanted to be a major factor in Europe and had other, undisclosed expansion plans. Rubbermaid's European presence slipped in 1994 when its previous strategy, a joint venture with Curver BV of Goirle, the Netherlands, broke up. Its Little Tikes juvenile products subsidiary, however, began production in Luxembourg early this year.
Curver, which claims to be the largest European plastics housewares firm, recently agreed to have Swiss plastics processor OWO-Firmengruppe sell and distribute Curver products in Switzerland to complement its housewares line. OWO-Firmengruppe also has an option to mold Curver products. Curver makes housewares, garden furniture and plastic compounds. The DSM NV subsidiary has annual sales of about 500 million Dutch guilders ($315 million).
Although Rubbermaid is a much larger competitor, Tupperware's sales are more focused. Its major product lines are plastic food storage containers, ovenware and educational toys, which it sells directly to consumers through home-based sales representatives. It added kitchen gadgets made by other firms to its product line last year, but those account for a very small portion of sales, according to Hanneman.
Tupperware competes most directly with Rubbermaid's Home Products division, the firm's largest business unit, according to Crum.
C.J. Lawrence/Deutsche Bank Securities Corp. of New York estimated in a May report that the Home Products division had sales of $978 million in 1994.
Other Tupperware competitors in North America include Tucker Housewares, a Leominster, Mass., division of Mobil Corp.; Sterilite Corp. of Townsend, Mass.; Contico International Inc. of St. Louis; and Anchor Hocking Plastics, a subsidiary of Newell Co. of Freeport, Ill.
Mobil plans to focus on its core oil, gas and petrochemicals business and ``if presented with the right opportunity, will consider the sale of Tucker,'' according to Mobil spokesman Tony DeNigro. In a telephone interview, DeNigro said Mobil executives are busy completing the sale of its plastics packaging business to Tenneco Inc. and he is unaware of any negotiations to sell Tucker.