Fanatics extends Nike deal to include Japan’s most popular baseball team

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

Karl Hof | Getty Images Sports | Getty Images

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

In addition to exclusive merchandising rights, Fanatics will operate e-commerce and physical retail stores for the Yomiuri Giants and plans to refurbish the Tokyo Dome retail stores ahead of the 2023 season. Nike becomes the official jersey supplier of the Yomiuri Giants. Fanatics will produce Nike-branded pitch jerseys and player performance merchandise, as well as ancillary fan jerseys and apparel, to be sold both online and in physical stores. Fanatics also creates autograph and collectible products for fans of the Yomiuri Giants.

The Yomiuri Giants are the first sports team outside of the United States to use this Nike Fanatics model for on-field and athletic merchandise. A major player in sports merchandise, Fanatics has exclusive licensing agreements with the NFL, NHL, MLB, and various colleges and universities. Some of these deals, including NFL and MLB, also overlap with Nike jersey and apparel stores.

Earlier this year, a partnership was formed between Fanatics and Nike for Fanatics to manufacture US collegiate athletic apparel, slated to begin in 2024.

The three-time CNBC Disruptor 50 company has a private valuation of $27 billion.

Fanatics is undergoing a fairly rapid transformation, says CEO Michael Rubin

Fanatics has evolved into collectibles, sports betting, and NFT businesses over the past several years. The family business, founded by Michael Rubin, has also made several acquisitions. In 2020, the company acquired sporting goods manufacturer WinCraft, and earlier this year it bought trading card company Topps for $500 million. Earlier this year, CNBC reported that Fanatics was in talks to buy sports betting company Tipico, although no deal has yet been reached.

Rubin recently divested his stakes in the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia 76ers due to the growth of businesses with potential conflicts of interest, including individual athlete betting and licensing.

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

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