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> Fleer going out of business?, Hobby rumors

bob_TCC
post May 14 2005, 01:39 PM
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The forums on several other hobby sites are abuzz over rumors that Fleer/Skybox LP is going out of business. The rumors say that Fleer laid off about 80% of its employees yesterday and that an official announcement about the situation will come this week.

What, if anything, are any of you hearing?

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post May 14 2005, 02:05 PM
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That's what I heard. I can't believe it though. Fleer made the best cards. It's a shame that is going out.

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SportsMan29
post May 14 2005, 02:06 PM
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I think I'm going to write them and ask them for all Matt Hasselbeck cards. LOL

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bob_TCC
post May 14 2005, 02:11 PM
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QUOTE(SportsMan29 @ May 14 2005, 03:05 PM)
That's what I heard. I can't believe it though.
*



I assume you also saw it on other sites? Obviously, there's a chance that it's incorrect. However, there are a few collectors taking part in the various threads I'm seeing that don't normally say anything unless they're pretty sure about their facts.

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post May 14 2005, 02:24 PM
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Besides seeing it on the Bench, I haven't heard that from what I shall say as a "credible" source like Beckett or Tuff Stuff. Hopefully they are because that would lower the number of brands attracting more first time collectors. As was the topic a couple of weeks ago. As far as I know I couldn't name half of fleer's subsets.

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aceecards
post May 14 2005, 06:37 PM
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According to my distributor, Fleer has gone into bankruptcy on Friday May 13th.

They will be sadly missed as will my 6 outstanding redemptions...


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post May 14 2005, 06:55 PM
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Haven't seen any news except at beckett.com

the latest news on fleer from google is about a band that named itself after the 1989 fleer billy ripken "f*ck face" error card.

I think fleer has released too many brands recently in almost a desperation attempt to sell more cards. Still sad to see it go.

It was Frank Fleer that invented bubble gum in 1906.


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bob_TCC
post May 15 2005, 08:31 AM
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Thanks everyone. If you hear or see anything else, please let us all know.

I do find it interesting that the threads on some of the other sites have some collectors thinking that Topps might buy them. Based on our other thread here, I don't see that happening at the moment.

Also, if the story is false, then this is another example that the PR departments for the manufacturers are fairly weak overall. Whether it's true or not, there are now hundreds to thousands of collectors who believe Fleer is done.

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Butterman1
post May 15 2005, 12:12 PM
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Here's an update:

hdjstuff from the Bench says

"Fleer is having major problems from what I am hearing from some very reliable sources. Playoff is supposedly the going to be the new owner of Fleer. UD was the sutor, but backed off. Should happen sometime after the next 2 or 3 releases. Duane"

Read more by going here:
http://www.teamsr.net/thebench/showthread.php?t=75625

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aceecards
post May 15 2005, 01:26 PM
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My distributor friend called his senior marketing/sales rep for Fleer at home.

He is unemployed as of Friday. He stated the company was filing chapter 7 and would continue operations with minimal staff to distribute products already packaged and planned for release.

Other companies ie Topps DLP have backed off from Fleers asking price for a direct buyout so Unless they come down that wont happen.

There is still product packaged to be released like Ultra showcase and 3 or 4 others baseball products.

Redemptions may or may not be fulfilled depends on the time frame.

From my knowledge of Chapter 7 filings. Fleer may try to hold on and spin out of this business slump. But certainly their days as a "major player" look to be numbered.

The distributor also said in his humble opinion.. that this may be a really good sign for the industry. With their competitors learning from Fleers mistakes of high end exclusive contracts paid to certain athletes. Maybe as a plus to collectors we will stop getting so many redemptions and GU. Another more underhanded darker plot has my distributor mentioning things like...

.

dont read if your squeamish...


.


Unable to certify Autographs!!! eg Some big name stars using Auto pen apparently!!

Unable to certify GU as authentic.

Fleer got caught and settled behind closed doors with some collector who had proof that their GU cards were not on the up and up from 2001 and on...!


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post May 15 2005, 02:09 PM
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Oh, I thought they had gone out of business a few years back blink.gif ...guess I thought so because their last hockey product came out 2.5 years ago and didn't get collectors very excited...so I guess the impact for hockey collectors will be barely noticible. wink.gif

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Butterman1
post May 15 2005, 03:03 PM
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QUOTE(aceecards @ May 15 2005, 01:26 PM)
My distributor friend called his senior marketing/sales rep for Fleer at home.

He is unemployed as of Friday. He stated the company was filing chapter 7 and would continue operations with minimal staff to distribute products already packaged and planned for release.

Other companies ie Topps DLP have backed off from Fleers asking price for a direct buyout so Unless they come down that wont happen.

There is still product packaged to be released like Ultra showcase and 3 or 4 others baseball products.

Redemptions may or may not be fulfilled depends on the time frame.

From my knowledge of Chapter 7 filings. Fleer may try to hold on and spin out of this business slump. But certainly their days as a "major player" look to be numbered.

The distributor also said in his humble opinion.. that this may be a really good sign for the industry. With their competitors learning from Fleers mistakes of high end exclusive contracts paid to certain athletes. Maybe as a plus to collectors we will stop getting so many redemptions and GU. Another more underhanded darker plot has my distributor mentioning things like...

.

dont read if your squeamish...
.
Unable to certify Autographs!!! eg Some big name stars using Auto pen apparently!!

Unable to certify GU as authentic.

Fleer got caught and settled behind closed doors with some collector who had proof that their GU cards were not on the up and up from 2001 and on...!
*



I hope that last part is not true ohmy.gif

Degbowl from the Bench says
"I heard from my local shop that fleer was in trouble. I also heard that MLB will limit card companies to 12 different issues per company. That would mean that Topps might have to put Topps Chrome as inserts in their regular packs. All of this is just rumors. You have to wait and see what happens."

If what he is saying about 12 issues per company is true then I would be all for it. BUT there has to be some type of guideline against companies splitting just to have more sets. The only problem with this is that Topps might have to make Bowman Chrome an insert in the regular Bowman packs. If Topps was in the right mind they would know not to do that, I view Bowman Chrome as their best product.

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bob_TCC
post May 15 2005, 05:32 PM
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QUOTE(Butterman1 @ May 15 2005, 04:03 PM)
If what he is saying about 12 issues per company is true then I would be all for it. BUT there has to be some type of guideline against companies splitting just to have more sets.
*



This limit would appear to be even more aggressive than the brand reductions that were being discussed in this thread.

Plans on the brand-reduction front could also change depending on what comes of the Fleer situation. That is, "survival of the fittest" would just naturally help correct that problem.

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bob_TCC
post May 15 2005, 06:40 PM
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QUOTE(aceecards @ May 15 2005, 02:26 PM)
My distributor friend called his senior marketing/sales rep for Fleer at home.

He is unemployed as of Friday. He stated the company was filing chapter 7 and would continue operations with minimal staff to distribute products already packaged and planned for release.

Other companies ie Topps DLP have backed off from Fleers asking price for a direct buyout so Unless they come down that wont happen.
*



Very interesting... I'll leave the latter part of your info untouched for the time being though. unsure.gif

Looking more and more like Fleer is heading the direction of Pacific where, at most, some of the brand names end up with another manufacturer while everything else (cards, office equipment, etc.) gets sold through auctions and liquidation sales.

I have mixed feelings on this whole subject, especially since I believe Fleer is the only manufacturer that attempted to maintain a reasonable web presence. That certainly was one of their strong points.

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meuandthelot
post May 16 2005, 10:03 AM
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Wierd..I had no Idea about this rumor, BUT something is up as they haven't answered their phones, or faxes again today(been trying since last Thurs)

I do agree that Fleer was #1 as far as up to date e-news, checklists & updates in general. As well as donating alot of product to card sites. Only snafu their product had way too many blems, ZERO QC.

FLEER....Please send my 2 M.Prior patches back.


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Call someone a dodee buttt in the heat of a debate, banhammer, trying with all your might to pass fakes, or what amounts to fraud..Eh, give em a break, he made a mistake??!!??

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bob_TCC
post May 16 2005, 11:50 AM
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Looking more and more like the story is true...

According to a collector that goes by "Card Lover" on the Beckett boards (thanks to aceecards for the heads up wink.gif ), this article is in today's Trade Fax by Sports Collector's Digest:

FLEER FIRES CARD STAFF, LOOKS FOR FINANCIAL OPTIONS

Fleer Trading Cards dismissed its trading card employees Friday, leaving several employees to run the die-cast division and CFO Chris Tobia to look to sell the company in the coming weeks.

The company has been dealing with financial shortfalls for several months and last week cancelled plans to attend this weekend's NFL Players Rookie Premiere photo shoot in Los Angeles. Sources told Trade Fax the company had meetings with some of its licensors last week to discuss their financial straits. In addition, sources say one of the company's printers refused to release several upcoming products because of unpaid bills.

Current owner Roger Grass and his father, Alex, purchased the company from Marvel Entertainment in 1999. Marvel had purchased Fleer in 1992 and SkyBox in 1995, merging the two companies into Fleer/SkyBox.

Fleer was shopped around last year and existing card companies had submitted offers to purchase the manufacturer. Grass opted not to sell and the company invested money in product upgrades and promotional initiatives. Those companies are now left to assess if they would still be interested in purchasing any of Fleer's brand names, including its Fleer Collectibles line of die-cast vehicles that Fleer execs have said has been a profitable line for the company.

Also to be decided is whether licensors will look to replace Fleer's brands, particularly in basketball, where Fleer is the league's longest continuous licensee. The NBA would have only two active licensees.

Fleer is the industry's second-oldest trading card manufacturer, with sports-card roots dating back to the 1950s. It ha been a continuous licensee of baseball since 1981, football since 1990 and basketball since 1986-87 and was recently a WWE licensee. The company also produced hockey and racing cards within the past decade as well as entertainment cards and a collectible card game.

The news reached dealers over the weekend, and they responded with justifiable concerns regarding preorder payments and redemption cards. Within the industry leaders, even those awaiting an overall reduction in brand quantities were hit hard by the news. As one distributor told Trade Fax, "Yes, we've been struggling with a glut in the marketplace, but these were my friends."

-End of article

Looks to be a legitimate article to me. However, I have e-mails out to 3 Fleer/Skybox distributors and a few other sources to try to confirm separately. One of the distributors already confirmed the general story earlier today, so we'll see if I get any additional details.

At this point, it appears that we'll be waiting to see what's going to happen with the Fleer brands, outstanding redemptions, etc.

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bob_TCC
post May 17 2005, 10:06 AM
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This was part of a PLAYERS INC press release from yesterday:

"Thirty of the top NFL draft picks will gather for a four-day outing in Los Angeles, beginning Thursday, May 19th for the Reebok NFL Players Rookie Premiere presented by EA SPORTS and produced by PLAYERS INC. The rookies will wear their official team jerseys for the first time as they participate in a series of photo shoots for trading card companies Donruss/Playoff, Topps and Upper Deck."

Click here for the full release.

Notice who's missing from the list though?

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bob_TCC
post May 18 2005, 09:05 PM
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Beckett.com now has an article confirming this story as well.

Here's the start of that article:

"Fleer has suspended its trading card operations indefinitely until the future of the company can be mapped out, a source told Beckett.com Wednesday.

The company laid off the majority of its work force late last week - including several product developers and managers - although a few employees still remain. “The trading card operation is suspended and we’re not releasing anything new going forward until ownership determines the course of action it wants to take,” said the source, who requested anonymity."

Click here for the full article.

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Butterman1
post May 18 2005, 09:53 PM
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I wouldn't be surprised if Donruss/Playoff bought them out. UD seems more like a memorabilia company than card company and Topps is an old school company.

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bob_TCC
post May 18 2005, 10:01 PM
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QUOTE(Butterman1 @ May 18 2005, 10:53 PM)
I wouldn't be surprised if Donruss/Playoff bought them out. UD seems more like a memorabilia company than card company and Topps is an old school company.
*



Here's my current thoughts...

Donruss/Playoff - Can't afford to spend the money.

Upper Deck - Won't see any value in buying them and will be just as happy to see them disappear.

Topps - Pre-occupied with their own issues.

Press Pass (as mentioned in Beckett article) - Interesting, but would be surprising.

So, I tend to think that Fleer just disappears. This story will continue to develop though, so I may change my mind. laugh.gif

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