Starter Returning to Football Sidelines after 20 Year Hiatus


Starter has signed a multi-year deal with G-III by Carl Banks to become the official on-field apparel and game day uniform supplier of the Alliance of American Football. The iconic brand most often associated with licensed team jackets, will outfit all 8 teams. The inaugural contest, scheduled for February ’19, will mark Starter’s return to football sidelines for the first time since 1998; the company outfitted 12 NFL teams during the 1990s.

Howie Long-Short: Starter is owned by the Iconix Brand Group (ICON), a brand management company that owns more than 25 global consumer labels including Candie’s, Pony and Umbro. ICON posted top and bottom line YoY declines in Q1 ‘18, but the company launched Umbro at Target and continued to increase sales of Starter brand on Amazon; growth initiatives that allowed CEO John Haugh to reiterate revenue and free cash flow guidance for FY18. ICON shares are down -53% on the year, closing on Tuesday at $.60. The company is expected to post its Q2 financials on August 8th.

G-III Apparel Group (GIII) is a clothing company that owns several fashion brands (think: DKNY) and holds licenses to manufacture under several others (think: Guess, Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger). Back in early June, the company reported Q1 ’19 net sales rose +16% to $612 million; an $83 million YoY increase. The unexpected profit sent shares soaring (+19.5%) to a 52-week high of $51.20 earlier this month. GIII closed on Tuesday at $46.33.

Fan Marino: The AAF is the league co-founded by Charlie Ebersol and Bill Polian. It’s not to be confused with the XFL, which is the league being funded by Vince McMahon and run by Oliver Luck; that league is set to launch in 2020. The AAF is hoping its “college model” will create natural rivalries and fan interest, with team/university affiliations ensuring players are assigned to the franchise located in the market closest to their collegiate team (or previous NFL/CFL team in B10/B12 country). Polian was quoted saying, “if the Birmingham team has Trent Richardson, we think that will be something that would be a significant gate attraction”; Browns, Colts and Raiders fans would likely disagree.

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Target to Launch Exclusive Umbro Collection, Committed to Growing Soccer in U.S.


Target (TGT) has announced that as of February 25th, all stores and will carry an exclusive line of Umbro soccer apparel, footwear and equipment for kids. The collection will include more than 90 items, including shorts, cleats and shin guards; ranging in price from $4.99 to $19.99. Target will be the only U.S. mass retailer carrying the English brand.

Howie Long-Short: Umbro is owned by the Iconix Brand Group (ICON), a brand management company that owns more than 25 global consumer labels including Candie’s, Pony and Starter. Those who follow ICON won’t be blindsided by news of the Umbro/Target partnership; CEO John Haugh said in late December (Q3 ’17 earnings) that the company would be actively managing its brands to expand market reach “with existing distribution partners and into new partners.” The comments came as ICON reported Q3 ’17 licensing revenue declined 12% YOY (to $53.2 million). Previously owned by Nike, ICON bought Umbro in 2012 for $225 million.

Fan Marino: In 2016, Target (TGT) saw sales of soccer-related items grow 10%; faster than any other sporting goods category. So, in 2017, TGT initiated the largest teams sports push in company history; becoming an official partner of MLS, an official partner and the jersey sponsor of Minnesota United FC and the official retailer of U.S. youth soccer. The company also pledged $14 million to youth soccer, as the company looks to continue growing participation in the sport (9 million played in ’16); an $8 million local grant program (supports registration fees, equipment, coaching etc.) and a $6 million partnership with the U.S. Soccer Foundation to build 100 new soccer fields by 2020.

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