New Balance eyes awareness and sales boost with Liverpool deal

New Balance is making its first branded play in football as it takes over from subsidiary Warrior Sports as official kit supplier for Liverpool Football Club’s 2015/2016 season, a “record-breaking” deal that coincides with the launch of the brand’s first soccer business.

In a multi-year partnership, the Boston-based sports apparel manufacturer will sell items in New Balance stores worldwide as it becomes kit and training apparel designer for the club.

While the company initially entered the soccer arena when Warrior, which it bought in 2004, agreed a six-year kit deal with Liverpool in 2012, this is the first football play for the New Balance brand as it looks to push its entry into the market, also announcing yesterday (4 January) that it will launch a soccer business under the New Balance name.

Billy Hogan, chief commercial officer for Liverpool FC, told Marketing Week that the deal will build on the success the club saw through its partnership with Warrior.

“We’ve had a great three years with Warrior and have set records in terms of numbers of kits sold,” Hogan says. “However, as New Balance has looked at entering the world of football, it made sense to bring it all under the New Balance umbrella and brand.”

Hogan also says the club will benefit from kit distribution through New Balance’s global store network and its “global footprint”, something they didn’t have with Warrior. Meanwhile, New Balance will be looking to tap into new markets through the football club’s global reach, particularly in southeast Asia.

Along with the kit deal, New Balance’s new football business with include brand, footwear and apparel campaigns featuring sponsored athletes, with the brand stating it will bring an “original approach to the way football boots and technical wear are designed and manufactured”.

Campaigns will also launch to support not only New Balance’s deal with Liverpool FC, but also Stoke City, FC Porto and Sevilla, all of whom have until now been sponsored by Warrior Sports.

Meanwhile, Warrior Sports will continue to exist, but will push its focus on hockey and lacrosse.

The Liverpool partnership is a continuation of New Balance’s relationship with Fenway Sports Group (FSG), who not only own Liverpool FC but also the Boston Red Sox, who New Balance also sponsor.

New Balance has seen sales growth in recent years, with sales up 17% annually since 2010 to reach $3.3bn last year, according to Forbes. International revenues were also up by more than 25% a year.

It still has a long way to go in the UK in terms of awareness, however – New Balance ranks twelfth on YouGov’s BrandIndex overall brand health score, sitting not only below top ranking adidas and Nike, but also the likes of Reebok, Puma and Lacoste.

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