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Mon 31 Oct 2011 03:14 PM

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‘Angry Birds’ creator to open first retail stores in China

Rovio Entertainment eying $100m in retail sales in first year of store operations

‘Angry Birds’ creator to open first retail stores in China
Rovio CEO Mikael Hed poses with two Angry Bird characters

Rovio
Entertainment Oy, the creator of the ‘Angry Birds’ mobile-phone games, will
open its first retail stores this year in China, its fastest-growing market.

The
company aims to hit $100m in retail sales in China in the first year of store
operations, Chief Marketing Officer Peter Vesterbacka said at the Techcrunch
conference in Beijing today. He didn’t provide possible locations or say how
many outlets the Espoo, Finland-based company plans to open.

‘Angry
Birds’ has multiple game versions in which players use a virtual slingshot to
fire birds at structures populated by green pigs. Rovio currently sells
merchandise including stuffed toys, flip-flops and Halloween costumes through
its online store.

“China
is our fastest-growing market, so we are taking it very seriously,” Vesterbacka
said. “We want to be more Chinese than the Chinese companies.”

The
company is tailoring games to appeal to the local market, such as the recent
“Moon Festival” version timed for the Mid-Autumn celebration last month,
Vesterbacka said.

‘Angry
Birds’ is the most-copied brand in China, the executive said. The company is
taking inspiration from pirate merchandise, including mylar balloons featuring
unlicensed characters from the game, for ideas on products to introduce,
Vesterbacka said.

Merchandise
makes up 10 percent to 20 percent of the business, and stuffed toys are selling
a million units a month, Vesterbacka said. The “insanely profitable” company
may sell shares to the public as early as next year and is probably worth more
than $1bn, he said at the time.

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