The Re-Americanization of Cricket

Published in CSP Daily News

Calico secures sales, distribution rights to iconic product

ONTARIO, Calif. -- Calico Brands Inc. has acquired the exclusive sales and distribution rights to the Cricket brand of disposable lighters. It said it is set to re-Americanize the iconic brand from the 1970s and 80s, and that it will once again appear in U.S. retail stores.

Ross Knapp, Calico's senior vice president of sales, said, After nearly 12 months of negotiations, we are able to complete this agreement with Swedish Match.

Swedish Match is a Stockholm-based manufacturer of cigars, pipe and chewing tobaccos and has been engaged [image-nocss] in the manufacturer and sales of lighters and matches since 1917. Swedish Match's leading lighter brand is Cricket. More than 300 million Cricket lighters are sold each year in more than 140 countries, the company said.

According to Calico Brands, in October of 1984, The Gillette Co., originator of the Cricket brand of disposable lighters, after an exhaustive and costly battle with the French company, Soci at a Bic, maker of the Bic disposable lighter, sold its interest in the brand to Swedish Match. Now, after more than 20 years of foreign control, the Cricket brand will once again be marketed by an American owned company, it said.

Jim Wilson, vice president of corporate planning, said, Our company's first priority is to engage the talents and expertise of our employees in the arenas of order fulfillment and customer service. We want all past, current, and potential Cricket customers to know that they can expect the same level of category expertise and service for Cricket brand product that they have come to expect from our company.

Referring to the July 1 transfer of sales and distribution functions, he added that he was extremely positive the transition will be seamless.

Calico Brands is currently best known as a provider of translucent economy-priced pocket disposable lighters and full-featured utility lighters popularly used in barbecue and fireplace lighting applications. Although it markets products under its Calico and Hot Shot labels, it is perhaps better known for the store brands it produces for leading retailers such as Wal-mart, Walgreens and Rite Aid.

Concerning plans for the Cricket brand, Knapp said that he expects Calico will succeed in positioning the brand in its rightful position as a premium-priced entry and the safest, most reliable and consumer friendly lighter ever made.

Calico, he said, will work closely with Swedish Match Continental Europe to modify the decorations and color pallets to more closely reflect the tastes of the U.S. consumer.