Alliance Games purchases 3 concerns on West Coast

`National status' seen in U.S. games market

April 21, 2001|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,SUN STAFF

Pikesville-based Alliance Games Distributors, which identifies itself as the nation's biggest distributor of hobby games, has announced three acquisitions designed to boost its West Coast business.

Alliance has reached agreement to purchase the majority of the assets of Berkeley-Topline Distributors and its sister company, Sports Memories Inc. Both companies are in Berkeley, Calif.

Alliance said it is also acquiring selected assets of Barchetta Distribution in San Marcos, Calif.

The purchase prices were not disclosed.

Alliance was acquired in September by Steve Geppi, founder of Diamond Comic Distributors in Timonium. Geppi also owns Baltimore magazine and has a part interest in the Baltimore Orioles. Alliance continues to be operated as an independent company by its former co-owners, Daniel Hirsch and Charles Tyson.

Geppi said the additions of Berkeley-Topline, Sports Memories and Barchetta, providers of trading cards, hobby games and board games, "will propel Alliance to truly national status in the hobby game market."

Andrew Smith, marketing manager for Alliance, said the company's sales are concentrated in the East. "We were nationwide before," Smith said, "but the acquisitions will make our West Coast presence even stronger."

Smith said Alliance, which posted sales of more than $35 million last year, would add new games and videos to the products distributed by the companies being acquired.

Berkeley-Topline is the nation's second-largest distributor of hobby games. It posted sales of $20 million last year, including contributions from Sports Memories.

Barchetta had sales of $3 million last year.

Alliance serves more than 3,000 retailers. It operates distribution centers in Baltimore; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Austin, Texas; and Visalia, Calif. The company employs 100 people, including 45 in Maryland.

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