Panini’s Purchase of Donruss Leaves Many Questions Unanswered
Friday afternoon officials from Donruss sent shockwaves through the collecting community by announcing the sale of the company to the Panini Group. Panini, an international force in the collectibles market headquartered in Italy, has taken over all of Donruss' trading card product lines, effective immediately.
Donruss, itself an amalgam of different trading card companies, currently produces multiple baseball and football card product lines under the Donruss, Playoff, Leaf and Score brand names. Donruss is the second oldest Trading Card Company in the USA, with a history that dates back to 1954.
This move marks Panini's second major expansion into the North American Sports Card Market in less than 2 months. The first such move occurred in late January when the NBA awarded Panini exclusive licensing rights to produce NBA trading card products, which gave birth to Panini America, Inc.
The acquisition of Donruss will significantly bolster the ranks of Panini's North American operation. Panini America will be based out of Donruss' former headquarters in Arlington, Texas. Along with the additional real estate, Panini America will inherit Donruss' NFL trading card license. Their first football card product, 2009 Playoff Prestige, is slated for release this May.
As a collector one cannot help but wonder how this development will impact future products released under the Donruss brand name, especially given Panini's lack of experience in the sports card market. The lion's share of the success that they have enjoyed to date has been the result of their non sports trading card products. Panini has not released any specific plans outlining what this move means in terms of the company's product offerings, nor have they given any insight as to how the various Donruss brands will be incorporated into their overall product line.
They hinted to their future plans in a recent press release, “Panini's vision of the future is simply to grow the North American trading card market considerably. There is considerable talent within the 50 plus strong Donruss team and a fine legacy from which we can grow the product category and attract new collectors. Our priority now is to integrate the team, supplement it where necessary with the extra help required to manage the enlarged business and complete the work already started on the development of our enlarged publishing program."
Only time will tell what kind of an effect Panini's entrance will have on the US sports card industry. However, one thing is certain – should you open a pack of 2009 Playoff Prestige and find yourself greeted by an image of David Beckham dribbling a soccer ball, chances are we are in for a rocky time over the next few years.