NEW YORK -- The National Hockey League (NHL) and Fanatics, Inc. (Fanatics) jointly announced today a significant long-term agreement that expands the scale and scope of Fanatics' relationship with the League. As part of the new agreement, Fanatics will now be the official manufacturer of a broad range of NHL® apparel and headwear, including replica jerseys, as well as hot market merchandise for the Stanley Cup® Playoffs and Final all starting with the 2017-18 NHL season.
Fanatics will also now operate on-site retail at numerous NHL marquee events, power the NHL's auction web site and extend its relationship as the ecommerce operator for the League, which began in 2005.
"Our new long-term business partnership with Fanatics is a reflection of the growth and evolution of the consumer products and e-commerce business," said NHL Executive Vice President and Chief Branding Officer Brian Jennings. "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."
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. 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. The deal also ensures retailers are positioned with inventories of exciting products in short timeframes in order to respond to trends and sudden spikes in interest and demand as exciting moments unfold during the NHL season.
"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," said Fanatics CEO Doug Mack. "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."
Beginning with the 2017-18 season, Fanatics will become the exclusive manufacturer and supplier of all adult replica NHL jerseys, the top tier of which will be called "The Breakaway." The replica jerseys will 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. Fanatics will also offer a line of youth replica NHL jerseys.
This agreement also gives Fanatics a broad range of apparel and headwear rights, including official rights to manufacture and supply hot-market products for the League. These rights include the official locker room hats and t-shirts supplied to the Stanley Cup® Champions.
"Now, more than ever, NHL fans want an array of opportunities to show passion for their team and cherish unforgettable moments as they happen and we're excited to be working closely with the League on creating a more innovative merchandise model best suited for the on-demand economy," said Raphael Peck, president of Fanatics Branded. "This new model will offer retailers and fans an exciting selection of fan gear and jerseys across all NHL teams and in a wide range of colors and sizes."
Fanatics Branded produced jerseys and apparel will be sold on shop.NHL.com and across the Fanatics network of sites, as well as being offered through NHL team retail operations and various domestic and international retailers. Shop.NHL.com will also continue to carry a wide range of officially licensed NHL merchandise produced by other NHL manufacturers.
To support its expanding NHL business, Fanatics is 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 to ensure first class domestic customer support and timely delivery of merchandise to hockey fans across the country. Fanatics recently hired veteran sports sales executive Glen Giovanucci to work closely with retailers and lead the company's sales network, and also named longtime Canadian sports licensing executive Jeff Budway as GM of Fanatics in Canada.