By Barry Janoff
April 4, 2017: In a move initiated last summer, VF Corp. today confirmed that it would sell its Licensed Sports Group to online sports apparel retailer Fanatics.
LSG is headed by the Majestic Athletic brand, which has had a relationship with MLB since 1982 and has been the league’s official on-field apparel supplier since 2005.
Financial terms of the deal were not released.
In December, MLB signed a ten-year deal naming Under Armour the exclusive MLB provider of all on-field uniform components, replacing Majestic beginning with the 2020 season.
Under terms of the same deal, Fanatics was granted "broad consumer product licensing rights to manage the manufacturing and distribution of Under Armour and Fanatics fan gear."
The deal left unresolved Majestic Athletic's status with MLB beyond 2019 and the future of the Majestic Athletic facility in Eason, PA, which employs about 600 people.
But Fanatics said it has also acquired the facility, located about 80 miles north of Philadelphia.
Concurrently, Under Armour in a statement said it would "continue the long-standing tradition of Major League Baseball's on-field uniforms being built by the dedicated workers of Easton, Pennsylvania, home of Majestic’s facility."
According to Under Armour, "The men and women of Easton will continue to play a major role in building Under Armour’s MLB team apparel business."
The decisions were confirmed during a media event to unveil the alliance held this afternoon at the Majestic Athletic factory, attended by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, reps from Fanatics and Majestic Athletic and local and state politicians.
Under Armour and Fanatics said they expect to offer an assortment of new fan gear apparel and accessories at retail, prior to the 2020 season.
In a recent financial statement, VF said that "revenues for its Imagewear coalition hit $1.1 billion in 2015, with LSG representing about half of that amount."
Jacksonville, Fla.-based Fanatics’ partners include the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, Nascar, MLS, NBC Sports, CBS Sports, Fox Sports and more than 200 collegiate and professional team properties across all leagues
Beginning in the 2020 MLB season, Under Armour becomes the exclusive MLB provider of all on-field uniform components including jerseys featuring prominent Under Armour branding, baselayer, game-day outerwear and year-round training apparel for all 30 MLB clubs.
In addition to MLB, Majestic also supplies apparel and fanware through licensing agreements with various other U.S. and international professional sports leagues and teams.
VF Corp. plans to focus on its other high-profile brands, including The North Face, Timberland, Vans, Lee, Wrangler and Nautica.
"As active portfolio managers, we constantly assess the composition of our company to ensure VF’s portfolio is aligned with our strategic objectives and positioned to maximize growth and return to our shareholders," Eric Wiseman, VF’s chairman and CEO, said in a statement earlier this year explaining VF’s strategy.
"In this respect, we are exploring options for our LSG business to position the organization to continue its success and achieve its future potential," said Wiseman.
To coincide with the start of the 2017 MLB season, Majestic Athletic launched a new multi-media effort under its umbrella campaign, "My Team My Colors."
Among those in the effort are Majestic spokesmen including Nolan Arenado (Colorado Rockies), Miguel Cabrera (Detroit Tigers), Francisco Lindor (Cleveland Indians), Joc Pederson (Los Angeles Dodgers), Kevin Pillar (Toronto Blue Jays), Gary Sanchez (New York Yankees), Kyle Schwarber (Chicago Cubs), Giancarlo Stanton (Miami Marlins) and Noah Syndergaard (New York Mets).
The premise of this year’s "My Team My Colors" finds the players creating artwork of the cities in which they play using brushes, canvas and paint-covered baseballs and bats.
The campaign is debuting during MLB's Opening Week across multimedia platforms including MLB.com, MLB Network, MLB venues and with Majestic retailer partners.
The VF Corp.-Fanatics transaction, which is expected to close in the second quarter of this year, is subject to standard customary closing conditions for a closing to occur.
Majestic Paints The Town 'My Team My Colors' With MLB Stars
Under Armour, Fanatics Play The Field With MLB
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