In talking with my partners at Card Corner Club, who have been doing this whole sports collectibles reporting longer than any of us, these are some of the things we recently discussed that HAVE to happen to give Upper Deck a fighting chance.
First and foremost is to find a way to get Richard McWilliams out of the picture completely. He has bled the company dry and has made too many enemies with people that you cannot afford to have as enemies if you are to run a profitable sports collectibles company. An internal management buyout with some venture capital funding? Something, anything. You must cut off the head.
Close and sell the Carlsbad office. It is more of a prestige asset than a necessity, housing many offices for athlete spokes people that they can no longer afford.
Stop paying on the exclusive licenses to Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Mark Messier, Wayne Gretzky, Annika Sorenstam, and any other luxury contract they have rights to currently.
Dump Upper Deck Authenticated (UDA). The prices have always been exorbitant and they have never seen the return on the balance sheet. Particularly in this current recession, that level of discretionary spending is non-existent for 90+% of the population.
Stop production of the figurine business, at least temporarily.
Return to their roots and focus on what they do best. Trading cards with great design that revolutionized the market with innovation unparalleled at that time in history. A new wave of innovation is needed.
Work with the licenses they have. NCAA, NHL, pony up for a PGA (golf license). Also to consider, regardless of what you think about the PBR (Professional Bull Riding) circuit, it was put on the map as a legitimate and popular, albeit, regional sport by the person who is the new head of the IZOD Indy Racing League. I think he is someone you might want to hitch your wagon to as the IRL has new life breathed into it.
For the future look to secure licenses for the next wave of movies and entertainment. Hire someone in the know from inside Hollywood on the reporting side as a consultant. Maybe someone from Variety or The Hollywood Reporter. The new Tron franchise is going to be a trilogy, and there are countless other opportunities.