At San Diego Comic-Con Retailer Lunch
Posted by Milton Griepp, Brigid Alverson on July 28, 2023 @ 3:11 am CT
Powell’s allusions to competitive issues were veiled, far less pointed than were common during the 90s distributor wars, but nonetheless clearly designed to draw competitive distinctions with Penguin Random House Publisher Services, which is now the exclusive distributor of Marvel Comics, Dark Horse Comics, and IDW Publishing; and Lunar Distribution, the primary distributor of DC Comics and Image Comics in the U.S. (Diamond is a sub-distributor in the U.S. of all of those lines except DC). The most recent hit to Diamond’s publisher client list was the loss of Image to Lunar Distribution, which takes effect in September (see "Image Goes Exclusive with Lunar").
Powell first noted a key difference between Diamond and Lunar Distribution, which has common ownership with online and brick-and-mortar retailer Discount Comic Book Service. "The Direct Market has always been our focus from day one," Powell said as he talked about the history of Diamond. "Steve [Geppi] even had his own retail stores, and he closed them because he didn't want there to be even the appearance of a conflict between his retail stores and any others that were in the area. That has held true for the whole time that we've been in this business."
Powell also focused on a pain point for retailers in the new world of multiple comic distributors: shipment paperwork and difficulties doing check-ins with incomplete or fragmented information, comments that seemed directed at PRHPS, whose shipments retailers have reported as more difficult to process. Throughout his presentation, Powell also stressed the value of consolidating supply through Diamond on lines from both of its competitors that it still carries as a wholesaler, to simplify ordering and shipment processing. "The most important thing is just the ordering and receiving processes that you use in your store," he said. "You want to be able to get things ordered, track your order, and then when it comes in check it all in and put it out for sale and go back to serving customers, which is your real job… To that end, we're going to continue to develop the programs that allow you to order and receive as many products as you can, in the most familiar, streamlined processes that you can."
Powell flagged two changes to cut Diamond shipping charges, where it is competing with PRHPS’s free freight policy. As of July 1, UPS Ground shipping charges on printed products were reduced by 40%, a change Powell attributed primarily to a new contract negotiated with UPS. And Diamond has also tested and will implement the use of the U.S. Postal Service, which will be more economical, especially for small packages.
Diamond has reduced the size of its Hunt Valley, Maryland headquarters office, Powell revealed, with employees working from home, and, left unsaid, likely some reductions in force related to reduced sales volume.
Powell also announced that the company is postponing its 2024 Diamond Retailer Summit, which had been planned in conjunction with Megacon in February as part of a two-year deal with Fan Expo (see "Two-Year Deal with Fan Expo"), to avoid a conflict with the ComicsPro Annual Meeting, planned for February. A new date was not announced.
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