Local firm's games sales aided by war


The Monarch Avalon game company, which has been losing money for four years, may finally be winning its battle with red ink due partly to the public's renewed interest in war games.

The company's sales have been boosted by the popularity of its specially developed board game, Desert Shield, which hit the market last October.

Sales of its Middle East-situated battle strategy games such as "Gulf Strike," which was just updated because of the Persian Gulf war, are also going well, said president Jackson Dott.

While still cautious in predicting a positive net income for the year, Dott yesterday said the Baltimore-based company could be headed for the black.

"The past few years we watched as earnings dropped, but now all our efforts to change that are coming together," said Dott. "I've got good vibes."

For the first nine months, the company reported net income of $103,000, or 6 cents a share, compared with a net loss of $71,000, or 4 cents a share, for the same period last year.

The company reported a net income of $96,000, or 6 cents a share, for the third quarter ending Jan. 31, compared with a net income of $166,000, or 9 cents a share, for the year-ago period.

Monarch Avalon reported sales of $2.3 million compared with $1.8 million for the third quarter last year.

Sales for the nine months were $5.6 million compared with sales of $5.2 million for the first nine months last year.

There seems to be a renewed interest in war games, Dott said. "People just couldn't get enough of the games. We are going crazy trying to replenish our suppliers."

Dott would not reveal how many games of Desert Shield the company has sold so far, but said the game sold best in February.

In an effort to capitalize on that interest, Dott said, the company plans to release an American History Series of board games, based on World War II battles.

Dott cited other efforts to make the company profitable, including cost-cutting steps such as reducing inventory, delaying raises for the more than 130 employees and tailoring some board games to meet customer preferences.

In addition, Dott said, the company's commercial printing division has seen sales increase 25 percent over last year.

"I'm very optimistic we're turning a corner," Dott said.

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