Forbes: Maria Sharapova’s Candy Brand Nets Deals With Hudson News, Sbe Hotels

Forbes: Maria Sharapova’s Candy Brand Nets Deals With Hudson News, Sbe Hotels

Maria Sharapova, a five-time grand slam singles champion, has expanded her candy brand into the world of luxury hotels and airports.

Sugarpova, the candy and chocolate brand Sharapova and her long-time agent at IMG, Max Eisenbud founded six years ago with a $500,000 investment by the former top-ranked Russian, struck deals with East Rutherford, New Jersey-based  travel retailer Hudson Group and Los Angeles-based luxury hotel group sbe.

Sugarpova products will be for sale at Hudson and Hudson News stores, as well as Hudson Group’s localized travel essentials, convenience, and candy concepts, both parties said in an emailed statement earlier this month.

“Hudson Group is a company that is constantly evolving to deliver the best products at the best times to react to the fast-paced changes of our customer,” said Hope Remoundos, chief marketing officer of Hudson Group.

Remoundos called Sugarpova “an eclectic brand that will sweeten the journey for passengers, offering a luxurious interpretation on classic treats they know and love.”

Sugarpova, which started out as a candy brand, launched its premium chocolate range in 2016, shortly after Sharapova announced she had failed a doping test for the banned heart drug meldonium. She would eventually serve a reduced 15-month long ban, returning to the women’s Tour in April of last year.

Despite the controversy, the Sugarpova chocolate tablets were a success from the start. They will be sold in more than 50,000 locations by the end of 2018 thanks to deals with Kroger Co., the biggest U.S. grocery chain, and 7-Eleven, the world’s biggest convenience store chain, the company said last year.

Pat Kenny, managing director at New York-based Traub Consumer, which took over the daily running of Sugarpova in 2014, told FORBES last year the brand may be worth as much as $20 million by the end of 2018.

“The brick-and-mortar retailer expansion continues to be an important element to growing the Sugarpova business, and one sector we were eager to tap into is the consumer who travels,” said Eisenbud, chief executive officer of Sugarpova. “This new deal with Hudson Group is a great way for us to reach Maria’s worldwide fan base, and grow the Sugarpova brand in an innovative way.”

Last month, Sugarpova announced a global partnership with sbe, a hospitality company that develops, manages and operates luxury hotels, residences, restaurants and nightclubs in the US, Middle East and Europe. sbe’s global portfolio will consist of 25 hotels and more than 170 culinary, nightlife and entertainment venues by the end of this year.

“We are always looking to partner with the best-in-class companies and brands to deliver a one-of-a-kind guest experience,” Sam Nazarian, sbe founder and chief executive, said in an emailed statement.

Sharapova , who will be competing in this month’s US Open, had been the world’s most marketable female athlete for over a decade, making more than $300 million, according to FORBES.

Making an impact in the notoriously competitive market for premium chocolate is no mean feat. Expect the Sugarpova brand to announce similar deals in the future as it continues to reap the benefits from the global name recognition of its founder.