Tuesday, August 16, 2005


Odyssey To Sell Its Booty Retail


TBO News
By Will Rodgers
August 11, 2005

TAMPA - Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc. said Wednesday that it will begin selling shipwreck coins, artifacts and merchandise directly to consumers, hoping the addition of retail sales will boost margins and help the business grow.

Tampa-based Odyssey, a deep-sea shipwreck exploration company, revealed the strategy in a news release announcing a second-quarter drop in sales of about 38 percent, which sent the company's stock sliding about 19 percent. Odyssey shares closed Wednesday at $4.14.

Davis Howe, chief operating officer, said the company hopes to build a retail market for products associated with the SS Republic, a Civil War- era ship that sank in 1865 during a hurricane off the coast of Georgia, and other shipwrecks Odyssey is exploring.

However, the company will maintain its successful wholesale distribution, he said. In 2004, the well-established network of wholesale coin dealers helped Odyssey realize its first significant revenue in 10 years by selling gold and silver coins recovered from the Republic.

Odyssey already has opened a retail outlet on the first floor of Jax Brewery, a New Orleans brewery and bottling house converted to shops and a museum and owned by Jackson Brewery Millhouse LLC. The Mississippi River-front brewery also is the site of Odyssey's Shipwreck & Treasure Adventure, the first interactive attraction from the company, set for a grand opening Aug. 27.

Howe said Odyssey also is taking information from customers who telephone its new call center or register at its Web site, www.shipwreck.net. Other retail outlets are planned, but Howe would not say where or when.

``People love shipwrecks. People love treasure and archaeology and history,'' Howe said. ``We think the potential market is immense, but we also don't think this is an industry yet.''

Odyssey is using radio, magazine and newspaper advertising to reach people interested in coin collecting, deep-sea exploration and shipwreck history, Howe said. The company will use television, which kicked off the sale of coins from the Republic last year, sometime later, he said.

Odyssey plans to open at least one other attraction, but no timetable or location has been announced. The company also is exploring possible shipwrecks in the western Mediterranean Sea and a project code-named Atlas.

The construction of Odyssey's Shipwreck & Treasure Adventure and exploration expenses drove down revenue for the company in the second quarter, which ended June 30, compared with the company's second quarter that ended Aug. 31 in 2004. Odyssey switched to a calendar fiscal year Jan. 1.

Second-quarter revenue this year was $3.8 million, compared with $6.1 million in the second quarter of 2004.

Odyssey reported a loss of $1.1 million, or 3 cents a share, for the 2005 quarter, compared with a profit of $2.4 million, or 6 cents a share, in the second quarter of 2004.


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