Business

Fanatics expand Nike deal to become Japan’s most popular baseball team

A woman browses a merchandise store in Tokyo Dome ahead of the Japan Central League baseball game between the Yomiuri Giants and Hiroshima Carp on October 14, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan.

Karl Kort | Getty Images Sports | Getty Images

Sports commerce platform Fanatics is expanding its recently signed long-term partnership with Nike to include the production and distribution of merchandise for the Yomiuri Giants, Japan’s most successful and popular baseball team.

In addition to exclusive merchandising rights, Fanatics will manage e-commerce and retail for Yomiuri Giants and plans to refurbish retail stores in Tokyo Dome ahead of the 2023 season. Nike will become the official uniform supplier of the Yomiuri Giants. The Fanatics will produce Nike-branded field uniforms and equipment, as well as additional Nike-branded shirts and fan apparel, to be sold both online and in brick-and-mortar stores. Fanatics also creates autographs and collectibles for Yomiuri Giants fans.

The Yomiuri Giants are the first non-US sports team to use this Nike-Fanatics model for field and sporting goods. Fanatics, a major player in sports merchandising, has exclusive licensing deals with the NFL, NHL, MLB, and various colleges and universities. Some of those deals, including the NFL and MLB, also overlap with Nike’s jersey and apparel deals.

A partnership between Fanatics and Nike was formed earlier this year to produce college sportswear in the US by Fanatics, due to begin in 2024.

triple CNBC 50 Destroyer The company has a private valuation of $27 billion.

In recent years, fanatics have evolved to include collectibles, sports betting, and the NFT business. The privately held company founded by Michael Rubin also made several acquisitions. In 2020, he acquired sporting goods manufacturer WinCraft and earlier this year bought Topps for $500 million. Earlier this year, CNBC reported that Fanatics was in talks to buy betting company Tipico, although a deal has yet to be reached.

Rubin recently divested of stakes in the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia 76ers due to the growth of business lines with potential conflicts of interest, including betting and licensing deals with individual athletes.

Fanatics has grown to over 10,000 employees in 57 countries, serving nearly 100 million sports fans worldwide.

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