Upper Deck expands into toys

Upper Deck Europe restructures, looks to new markets.
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The trading card specialist is broadening its portfolio and entering new markets including toys and games and puzzles. Consequently, the management team is being restructured with increased responsibilities in the new product areas to align with its strategy for growth.

In addition to the Trading Card Game and Collectibles categories the firm will add a range of family and board games for release in 2008 and toy-lines next year, including the European Master Toy line for Grossology in autumn 2008, it will also exclusively distribute the brands Di-Gata and Tech Deck from Canadian toy giant Spin Master.

Nico Blauw, CEO of Upper Deck Europe, said: “Over the past five years, we have done an impressive job in expanding our distribution network and executing unique marketing and merchandising supporting the sales of our products. This has allowed us to maintain our results at a very high level.

“A growing group of retailers and licensors are recognising the great benefits of working with a company like Upper Deck. It is now time for the company to maximise these opportunities by expanding our product portfolio into new areas of business.

“The Trading Card Game market can be very profitable, but at the same time it is fragile, with very few products succeeding. It is important for the future of Upper Deck Europe BV to bring more balance and structure to our business.”

The expansion means changes to the roles of a number of senior management. Bruno Van Speybroeck, former European Director of Marketing and Organized Play, since 2004, has been promoted to the position of COO (Chief Operations Officer). He will lead the change and reorganization at head office.

Hedley Barnes, former managing director for the UK and Ireland since 2005 has been promoted to Managing Director Northern Europe and is now additionally responsible for BeNeLux, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland, Switzerland, Turkey and Eastern Europe. The UK office will continue to oversee Australia and New Zealand.

Louis Pinto, former managing director for France since 2005 has been promoted to managing director Southern Europe and takes on the added responsibility of Spain, Portugal, and Greece.

Peter Nordhausen remains responsible for Germany and Austria as Managing Director Central Europe and Daniele Parnigoni, former Business Manager for Upper Deck Italy has been promoted to Financial Controller for Europe and will move to the Amsterdam office.

New additions include Christine de Boer, formerly of Mattel Interactive and MGA Entertainment as European Marketing Manager. Ronald Visser, former HR Business Partner at ABN-AMRO Bank, joins the European office in the function of Human Resource Manager Europe; Mark Williams from EMI has joined the company in the function of Regional Sales and Marketing Manager for Oceania and Rob Post, previously Logistic Manager with Bacardi Europe for 15 years, has joined the European office as Logistics Manager.

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