Special to NYSportsJournalism.com
October 26, 2016: The NHL wants to give you the shirts off their players’ backs, as long as consumers go to Fanatics to purchase them.
The league said it has signed a deal with apparel retailer Fanatics that expands the multi-channel relationship between the two companies to include exclusive rights as official manufacturer for a broad range of NHL apparel and headwear, including adult replica jerseys, as well as "hot market merchandise" for the Stanley Cup Playoffs and Final, starting with the 2017-18 NHL season.
Fiancial terms of the deal were not released.
The NHL last year acquired equity stakes in Fanatics, as well as Outerstuff, which makes youth apparel.
The Fanatics deal kicks in the same season as adidas takes over from its Reebok division Reebok as the NHL’s official on-ice jersey provider.
Fanatic gets its logo on replica jerseys but not on-ice jerseys, where adidas will have its logo.
"Our new long-term business partnership with Fanatics is a reflection of the growth and evolution of the consumer products and e-commerce business," Brian Jennings, evp and chief branding officer for the NHL, said in a statement.
"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," said Jennings.
Fanatics this month signed a similar deal with MLB beginning in 2020 when Under Armour takes over from Majestic as official on-field uniform partner.
There is an MLB Store and an NHL Store at Fanatics.com, which also handles merchandise for the NBA, Nascar, the NFL, nearly 100 NCAA colleges and Team USA.
Fanatics said the replica jerseys would be produced by Fanatics Branded, the company’s merchandise division, and will be designed with "fan-first features that are intended for enhanced comfort and versatility." A top-tier line of jerseys will be called "The Breakaway."
Fanatics will also offer a line of youth replica NHL jerseys.
Fanatics said the deal would leverage its "innovative mobile, merchandising and production capabilities to the benefit of both fans and retailers. With technology, mobile and social media all contributing to a surge in the speed at which fans want the latest gear, this new agreement will allow fans to have access to a broad assortment of products at their fingertips."
"Our new long-term business partnership with Fanatics is a reflection of the growth and evolution of the consumer products and e-commerce business."
In addition, Fanatics said the deal "ensures retailers are positioned with inventories of exciting products in short time frames in order to respond to trends and sudden spikes in interest and demand as exciting moments unfold during the NHL season."
According to Doug Mack, CEO for Fanatics, "The NHL is a league that has consistently been on the cutting edge of bringing fans closer to the game they love, and that passion extends to the paradigm shift we’re seeing in terms of in-the-moment purchasing patterns.
"With our scale and agility, Fanatics is uniquely positioned to greatly enhance both the assortment and speed to market of NHL merchandise for retailers as well as fans across all devices and at games or big events," said Mack.
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