The Hustle

Tupperware lifted the lid on financial shenanigans, but now its investors can’t be contained

Shares have plummeted, and investors filed a class-action lawsuit.

February 27, 2020

Photo: Tupperware

Rummage around your kitchen cabinets a little too long, and you might stumble across some light financial fraud. 

Tupperware, the brand so iconic that its name has become synonymous with household plastic containers, blew the lid off “financial reporting issues” in its Mexico division this week.

The disclosure spooked the market. Shares plummeted, and investors filed a class-action lawsuit accusing the company of artificially inflating its stock.

An army of sales reps once kept the brand fresh

Tupperware first hit the streets in the 1950s with a series of “Tupperware parties” — unfortunately NOT hotbeds of steamy (yet microwave-safe)  debauchery.

They were neighborhood sales hosted by company reps. Customers could buy the containers only from a Tupperware peddler.

That was 70 years ago. In an era of Amazon and Walmart, customers don’t really seek out Tupperware reps anymore. 

Meanwhile, their numbers are dwindling: Longtime salespeople are tossing their containers and flocking to new gig-economy entrants like Lyft or TaskRabbit.

Tupperware was trying to unseal a new era

Sales have been declining for 8 quarters, and the company has tried to turn things around. In November, Tupperware opened its first physical store in Manhattan — the vibrantly colored pop-up TuppSoho.

Among other cutting-edge, totally-not-decades-late innovations it rolled out: an online retail store. But with this week’s stock nosedive, any goodwill that the pivot won TUP may have already spoiled.

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