Opening panel to feature Sapir, Warsop, Gaeta, Masherah, Hoashi

Opening panel to feature Warsop, Sapir, Masherah, Hoashi, Gaeta

LAS VEGAS (March 5, 2012) – Executives from five leading trading card companies have agreed to participate on a “future of the category’’ panel discussion to launch the 2012 Industry Summit.

The “Fearless Forecast’’ panel, which will open the Summit’s business session on Monday, March 19, features these distinguished executives:

Mark Warsop, CEO, Panini America.
Mark Sapir, VP, The Topps Company.
Jason Masherah, VP, Upper Deck.
Yumi Hoashi, VP, Konami Digital Entertainment.
Scott Gaeta, COO, Cryptozoic Entertainment.
Summit host Kevin Isaacson will moderate the discussion, which will cover topics ranging from retail shelf space to hobby shop development/diversification and the potential for additional direct-to-consumer business.

“This discussion will provide a compelling snapshot of our business’ short-term future,’’ Isaacson said. “I am very interested to see which discussion points generate consensus among the panelists – as well as those which indicate a unique perspective from one or more executives.’’sign. It’s fun to send it out to customers, to get their reactions, and to know that 20 years from now, that sign will still be hanging in a store window. It’s part of our role in the industry, and it’s fun to represent our partners positively in the marketplace.

Q. Time for our “King of the Industry’’ question. If you could make one change in our business, what would you choose to address?

A. Ask everyone to focus on their business and improving what they do – and not worry so much about what everyone else is doing. I have learned to be happy when my competitors are doing well, because hopefully, that means the business as a whole is growing. Adversarial relationships are damaging to our industry. Instead of doing our life’s best work, something we can take pride in, some people in our business seem focused on attacking others. That doesn’t serve the business well at all.
Also, I’d go back 35 years and change our company name. While it works for us now, it provides an initial obstacle that is even more significant than our geographic location.
Q. What is the best single innovation or advancement in our business during the past 12 months?
A. Simple: Panini’s Black Friday promotion. It brought people into hobby shops, it allowed us to engage with the shops, it promoted additional sales, and it delivered for the shops that participated. We had tons of positive feedback; several stores reported their best sales day ever! It increased our sales on all Panini products – not just those featured in the promotion. Could Panini improve on some elements of the promotion for future years? Of course. But it was a great promotion, and we believe the store traffic it created is something we should strive to repeat and increase in the future. The nature of our business demands that we create exciting in-store events, and this was a good example of what we can accomplish by working together and driving customers into stores for a great collecting experience.