Fanatics Set to Become Official Manufacturer of NHL Apparel
Fanatics athletic apparel retailer has just become the official manufacturer of the National Hockey League, starting with the 2017-18 season. They will also manufacture a broad range of NHL apparel and headwear, including replica jerseys and Stanley Cup merchandise.
Fanatics on fire
Fanatics has just sealed a major deal that will make them the primary manufacturer of NHL apparel and accessories. Not too bad for a company that started as a single Jacksonville mall retail store. From its humble beginnings, Fanatics has grown into the largest retailer of officially licensed sports merchandise, worldwide. Fanatics went digital and made its first online sale in 1997. Since then, the retailer has been known mostly for their e-commerce as opposed to brick and mortar stores. They leveraged online selling and used it as a way to connect to multiple partners. All of the hockey gear in their partnership will be sold on shop.NHL.com, across the Fanatics online network and through individual NHL team retail operations and other merchants. As per Brian Jennings, NHL Executive Vice President and Chief Branding Officer, “Our new long-term business partnership with Fanatics is a reflection of the growth and evolution of the consumer products and e-commerce business.”
Hockey is often called “Canada’s Sport”. To further support its growing NHL relationship, Fanatics is also setting up a wholesale sales division covering both the U.S. and Canada, as well as establishing a new physical local presence in Canada that will include dedicated staff and a fulfillment center. This deal expands the multichannel relationship between the two companies, while also leveraging Fanatics’ innovative mobile, merchandising and production capabilities to the benefit of both fans and retailers. “After a rigorous process, Fanatics emerged as an optimal choice given their commitments to expanding their already best-in-class capabilities in the e-commerce space, including building a sales and distribution infrastructure in Canada, and to produce lines of replica jerseys and apparel products that will excite NHL fans and drive sales for NHL retail partners,” explains Jennings. The international arm of the Fanatics is wide – they deliver to 100 countries and have stores in over 70 languages.
Changing sports retail
Fanatics has an impressive roster of partnerships with a variety of sports leagues. Fanatics just signed a deal with Major League Baseball to run their e-commerce business, as well as a long term deal with the NFL to extend their e-commerce business and added apparel-licensing rights. Fanatics also boasts partnerships with the NBA, NASCAR, international soccer clubs and college sports teams. Currently, the model of how Fanatics creates/ships sports apparel hasn’t been done before. According to Darren Rovell of ESPN, “The relationship provides a window into the future of sports retail. A fan will now order a jersey on Fanatics or one of its affiliates, including the official online store of any of the major sports leagues. That jersey will then be made and shipped by the same company. The ability to make the apparel on the spot also means that wait times on popular player jerseys, most recently Toronto Maple Leafs rookie Auston Matthews, can be shorter.”
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