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Sanrio's Puroland theme park still bleeding red ink

TOKYO -- Sanrio, the company behind Hello Kitty, will experiment with longer operating hours and take other steps in an effort to stem the losses at an indoor amusement park in Japan.

     Located in the city of Tama outside central Tokyo, Sanrio Puroland is expected to suffer an operating loss of roughly 240 million yen ($2.33 million) in the year ending next March. Although this comes to less than half of last fiscal year's loss, the park still is not earning enough to cover advertising and other expenses.

     Attendance hit a six-year high of 793,000 in fiscal 2013 thanks in part to a major renovation -- the first since the park opened in 1990. Sanrio is aiming for more than 800,000 visitors this fiscal year but is relying on a costly promotional buildup starting this summer.

     Hoping to bring in more visitors, Sanrio will lengthen the park's operating hours on Aug. 22 and Aug. 29. Attractions will close at 8 p.m. instead of 5 p.m., while food and gift shops will stay open until 10 p.m. On both days after 3 p.m., visitors will be able to buy tickets good for two hours of free food and drink. Sanrio might repeat the extended days, depending on the reaction. It may also revive discount admissions for corporate visitors.

     Puroland appears to have consistently lost money since fiscal 2007. But Sanrio enjoys a growing stream of Hello Kitty royalty payments -- a far more important source of revenue -- from China and Southeast Asia. Group net profit is expected to grow 12% to 14.4 billion yen this fiscal year.

(Nikkei)

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