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

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Target (TGT) has announced that as of February 25th, all stores and Target.com 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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GANASSI RACING SIGNS SPONSORSHIP DEAL WITH FIRST DATA; FIRST DATA PUTTING MARKETING DOLLARS IN TO NASCAR

Chip Ganassi Racing has announced a sponsorship deal with First Data (FDC) that will make the credit card processor the primary sponsor on Kyle Larson’s #42 car, for two races during this season’s Monster Energy (MNST) NASCAR Cup Series. Ganassi has been working to find a permanent replacement for current sponsor Target (TGT), whose contract expires at the end of the season, and is hopeful the partnership with First Data will grow in 2018. First Data has been making a big push in to the NASCAR space, targeting small business decision makers that comprise part of the sports’ overall fan base. The company recently signed a deal with International Speedway Corporation’s (ISCA) Martinsville Speedway, to act as the title sponsor of the playoff race in October (First Data 500) and will serve as the credit card processor at 2 additional races this year (Phoenix & Miami).

First Data Signs On With Chip Ganassi Racing, Will Sponsor Races For Kyle Larson

Howie Long-Short: The firm’s Global Financial Solutions division (retail & credit processing) recently reported it is up 12% YOY. With Clover helping to drive merchant on boarding, the future looks bright for First Data.

Fan Marino: First Data has been active in the sports sponsorship space of late, signing a 10-year deal with the Mets and purchasing the naming rights to their spring training facility in Port St. Lucie (First Data Field).

TARGET MOVING SPORTS MARKETING DOLLARS FROM NASCAR TO MLS

Target Corp. (TGT) is shifting its sports marketing budget from NASCAR to MLS. The retail giant announced it is terminating its 16 year sponsorship of Chip Ganassi’s NASCAR team and that it does not plan to renew its deal with Kyle Larson’s No. 42 Chevy car, following this season. Instead, TGT will be among the national sponsors of MLS and the primary local sponsor for the Minnesota United FC. The company has stated the move is being driven by growing interest in the game of soccer within core target demographics; Hispanics, families and millennials.

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Target pulls out of NASCAR, steers dollars to soccer

Howie Long-Short: Hard to argue with TGT logic here. One sport is growing, while the other is in a decline.

Fan Marino: Pro Tip: If you go to a NASCAR event, make sure to get the scanner headsets so you can listen in on the drivers. Game-changer.