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Trading Card Research - News & Mags

The World Cup was a terrific success for Russia, France, England’s brave footballers and retail sales of Gareth Southgate style waistcoats. However, for publishers and multiple grocer retailers selling the World Cup 2018 trading cards, there were significant levels of lost sales, as stores took actions such as taking trading off live sales or added security measures such as keeper cases to reduce shrink. It is acknowledged that for this category to grow and for future campaigns such as Match Attax, Euro’s 2020, etc to be successful, the whole supply chain will need to work together to identify new ways to grow profitability. This new research project lead by MBA students from the Cardiff Business School is expected to bring a fresh pair of eyes to the challenge and to identify actions across the whole supply chain.  

Research Objectives

In the first instance, the aim of the study is to understand the flow of trading cards / free albums from the publishers through to the wholesalers then the retailer and finally, the returns that go back to the wholesaler.  The second purpose is to identify the “pain points” and bring to the industry new thinking and ideas that could make the category and these products better for the shopper, simpler for staff and at a lower total cost.

In scope are the collectible trading card products such as Match Attax, and other products that may or may not be dependent on a free album distributed before the launch. The study will look at the flow of goods through to just the multiple UK grocery retailers, Tesco, Sainsburys, Asda, Morrisons and Waitrose.


A clear description and analysis of the supply chain and flow of these products from item set up, to production, to distribution, to retail and then to returns and disposal. This analysis should include an assessment of the current vulnerabilities of this process and how it can go wrong that could lead to lost sales, loss, theft, damage and inefficiencies.

In addition, the researchers should present, based on the data they have collected on sales, supply chain costs, availability, lost sales and shrink, a full financial assessment of the current supply chain and be able to articulate the financial upside if those factors that are dampening profitability could be removed.

Finally, the researchers should gather data on the effectiveness of the current interventions being deployed to reduce costs, limit losses, reduce theft, etc and to look to detailing and then quantifying the possible benefit from new interventions that could which is improve the current presentation in store of these products, and at the same time, make this category more profitable for ALL actors.

These findings should be presented in the form of a power-point presentation (with notes) and a talk of these findings given to the ECR News & Magazines group on October 15th in London


Step 1: Research brief to be aligned with the different actors and commitments given by each actor to support the research process and share data. Note, the information from the interviews and the data gathered will all be anonymised, and the data aggregated so that no individual or company specific data will be communicated or written in any report. If appropriate, NDA’s can be signed - June

Step 2: ECR introduces MBA researchers, via email, to the actors and requests that they set up 1:1 meetings and site visits. Early July

Step 3: Researchers commence literature review, develop research instruments, conduct research, collate data and prepare recommendations. – July – end August

Step 4: Researchers present findings to ECR group - Sept / October 2019


The research will be a “marked” element of the researchers MBA qualification and thus under the supervision of the Cardiff Business School. However, for this research project, Colin Peacock from ECR can be available for regular “check in’s” and support with practicalities such as setting up interviews, etc.