Fanatics Acquires Topps Trading Cards And Collectibles Business
By Community | January 5, 2022
Fanatics, a leading global digital sports platform, has completed the acquisition of Topps trading cards, the preeminent licensed trading card brand that has serviced collectors, fans, and retailers for more than 70 years. The acquisition of Topps’ sports & entertainment division includes all parts of its iconic worldwide trading cards and collectibles business – both the physical and digital divisions – which sells in more than 100 countries and has physical operations in 10 countries, including the UK, Germany, Brazil, Italy and Japan.
Fanatics Trading Cards was launched in 2021 after the company secured exclusive, long-term trading cards rights from several of the leading professional sports leagues and players associations, including Major League Baseball (MLB), the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA), the National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) and National Football League Players Association (NFLPA).
The addition of Topps, which also has rights with Major League Soccer, Formula 1, UEFA and Bundesliga, significantly accelerates the buildout of the Fanatics Trading Cards business, as the company adds world-class expertise, infrastructure, an iconic brand and a broad range of capabilities from the industry leader. The deal jumpstarts Fanatics Trading Cards’ MLB and MLBPA rights to design, manufacture and distribute trading cards, which begins immediately versus the original combined start date of 2026.
“With trading cards and collectibles being a significant pillar of our long-term plans to become the leading digital sports platform, we are excited to add a leading trading cards company to build out our business,” said Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin. “Their iconic brand, commitment to product excellence and passionate employees worldwide will allow us to immediately serve our league and players’ association partners and our fans.”
To ensure seamless ongoing operations, all of the approximately 350 global Topps sports & entertainment employees will become part of Fanatics Trading Cards. Current Topps Global VP, GM, David Leiner, and VP, GM Topps Digital, Tobin Lent, will continue to run Topps within Fanatics Trading Cards, a separate subsidiary of Fanatics. Both executives will report directly to Doug Mack, Fanatics Inc. Vice Chairman and Fanatics Commerce CEO.
“The strong emotional connection between Topps collectibles and consumers of all ages – built through 70 years of tradition, starting with the Shorin family – will make it a jewel in the Fanatics portfolio,” said Michael Eisner, owner of the Tornante Company. “Michael Rubin is the perfect entrepreneur to lead this company forward. Like any crown jewel, I and my partners at Madison Dearborn will miss our many years of ownership where we grew a highly profitable business through strategic licensing partnerships, global expansion, and digital transformation. We’re proud of what the Topps team has accomplished, and we look forward to seeing what Michael and his team do to continue growing the Topps collectible business while staying true to its iconic history and relevance to consumers.”
The combined vision and distinct strengths of both Fanatics and Topps will improve the collector experience, while maintaining vital parts of the hobby. Fanatics’ data-driven, direct-to-consumer expertise, which includes a database of more than 80 million sports fans globally, will enhance and expand Topps’ existing digital capabilities and grow the market opportunity for all participants. Additionally, Topps’ world-class quality, product development and manufacturing capabilities, along with their commitment to collectors and hobby shops, will ensure products are more readily accessible, positively impacting current and future collectors and partners.