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Motorsports Authentics considers business model

The future business model of troubled merchandise giant Motorsports Authentics will be decided soon after its owners explore ways to turn around the company.

In the company's four years in existence, it has been a licensee, a trackside retailer, an apparel company, a novelty company, a diecast car company and a distributor. But with another year of losses looming, Motorsports Authentics' 50-50 joint owners, International Speedway Corp. and Speedway Motorsports Inc., are now looking at each of those units as part of an overall re-evaluation.

“We're deeply committed to this business,” said Roger VanDerSnick, senior vice president at ISC, who will become COO on June 1, and one of four board members at Motorsports Authentics. “We're just trying to figure our way through this economic downturn like every other company. What's important is to figure out what the right model is for the long term, not to change things just because of the downturn. But we are going to see this through.”

VanDerSnick said he wouldn't talk specifically about potential changes for Motorsports Authentics, but team and industry officials say several scenarios are being explored.

Might the company reduce itself to a retailer or a diecast carmaker? Will it continue in the apparel and novelty business?

These are among the options in front of the third management team in four years, this one led by interim president Joe Mattes, who was installed in March while retaining his job as vice president of licensing for Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s JR Motorsports. Former CEO Mark Dyer split from the company in February.

This evaluation could lead to sweeping changes in Motorsports Authentics' broad business, and, in turn, change the licensing landscape in NASCAR, specifically the trackside shopping experience for the fan. One scenario on the retail side includes adopting golf's method of building temporary stores on-site, which would move the merchandise out of the trailers and into more of a department-store setting.

“We've adjusted our inventory control and buying cycles and implemented changes to make MA leaner and more efficient,” VanDerSnick said. “Now we're in longer-range planning, but there's not a timeline on it. Discussing our business planning publicly is not something we're going to do.

“I wouldn't say everything is on the table. We're not going to flip the business to a private equity. But to the extent that we're committed to a better way of doing things, we're open to a lot of different things.”

Motorsports Authentics is expected to lose money again this year, making three years out of four the company has posted losses.



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