Rugby ‘riding recession’

Opportunity for ‘brave retailers’ to cash-in with official licensed merchandise

Official licensed rugby products are riding the recession due to the more affluent nature of the sport’s supporters, providing independent retailers with the opportunity to cash-in according to the Rugby Football Union’s (RFU’s) head of retail.

Andy Ward (pictured) said rugby is lucky in that its supporters tend to be more affluent than other teamsports, and have more expendable cash.

He said the retail market is tough across the board though, and that rugby consumers are consciously looking for quality products that offer something different.

For him, official licensed products are central to meeting this demand, especially with a World Cup coming up later this year.

Ward said: “For retail, a World Cup means being able to target supporters outside the usual fan base. The Rugby World Cup is the third most watched event on TV behind the football World Cup and the Olympics.”

With the event being held in New Zealand, Ward conceded that converting support to sales may prove an issue. However the 2015 Rugby World Cup coming to England will provide ample opportunities to make up for it.

“Being in New Zealand means it may be difficult to engage with consumers. The 2015 event will give us the opportunity to extend our licensing operations.

“The challenge will be to make sure retailers understand the value in stocking official licensed merchandise over generic products. Buyers always look at the margins, and the margins are generally better with generic products as consumers are more inclined to buy those at a cheaper price.

“But there is an opportunity for brave retailers to become official merchandise suppliers and generate a premium on licensed goods. Some say that’s not possible, but we’ve shown it is as more and more consumers are looking to buy quality products.”