Upper Deck suspends new distribution program

The Upper Deck Co. announced that, effective immediately, the terms of its 2007 Hobby Distribution and Brick & Mortar program will be suspended until further notice.

A statement issued by Upper Deck said the company “is committed to the long-term welfare and viability of the hobby market, and is constantly evaluating and looking for ways to help its distributor and retailer partners. While the Upper Deck Co. is committed to its current sales program, the short-term health of the hobby business takes priority at this juncture. As we enter the holiday season, it is important that the hobby market maximize sales opportunities, end the year strong and prepare for a successful 2008. The Upper Deck Co. will revisit its program in the future, and make any and all adjustments that it deems necessary.”

The program was put in place in April and was designed to reduce the amount of product that was being sold outside of traditional hobby outlets. Hobby retailers could only order products from any of Upper Deck’s 12 authorized distributors in the U.S. or direct from the company. Meanwhile, authorized distributors were only allowed to sell to brick-and-mortar store locations.

Retailers were asked to sign agreements stating they would adhere to the policies, but some retailers were critical of the program and refused to participate. Among the terms that created the most controversy with some dealers was the fact no dealer-to-dealer sales were allowed for 60 days after a product’s release, while the agreement said that the “majority of sales” must be to in-store customers, meaning stores could sell product online to consumers but not to other dealers.

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