The signing of UK retail giant JD Sports as an official partner to the Blues will help the New Zealand Super Rugby club’s brand expansion into other international markets including the northern hemisphere – according to its commercial manager.
JD Sports is a $19bn athleisure retailer with over 2,600 stores internationally – and is set to open its first NZ store when COVID alert levels permit.
The Blues have confirmed the signing of a new contract with UK headquartered JD Sports, who will become an official partner of the club, with the back of playing and training shorts branding on all player uniforms.
Todd Hewitt, general manager of Blues Commercial says the retail viability of professional sporting brands is a key element of their success.
He says New Zealand rugby is increasingly focused on global expansion and is looking to new international competition formats to increase the profile of the Blues.
“We know that the future of professional rugby will be found in our ability to export our brand beyond our market,” says Hewitt.
“The profile of international provincial rugby competitions is still in its infancy especially when compared to the world of football, and this sponsorship provides us with the opportunity to strengthen our brand equity by breaking into the vast markets which are dominated by massively successful clubs like Real Madrid and FC Barcelona.
“One way the value of a brand can be realised is through merchandise sales at a retail level. We are aiming to leverage the extensive commercial experience of JD Sports in helping us to develop the value of the Blues brand and apparel in a global market,” he says.
Hilton Seskin, JD Sports ANZ CEO says it makes sense for the company to invest in the most dominant sport relevant to the local consumer.
“We know that Kiwis are passionate about their rugby and it will be the first time we have invested in rugby within the ANZ region. This partnership is coupled with our signage activity at the two recent international test matches played at Eden Park and our season-long signage agreement with the NPC, so from our side it is a substantial multi-tiered investment within the code.
“Auckland is a key market for our brand, with over 1.6 million people across the region, and the Blues are the preeminent sporting franchise with a strong fan base and proud history.
“Sport plays an integral role in our brand and we know that if we want to be relevant and authentic to the New Zealand consumer, we have to localise which is why we’ve been exploring so many opportunities with various sporting talent and codes,” he says.
JD Sports will open its first New Zealand store in Auckland Sylvia Park Mall.