(Staff and Bloomberg)—National Football League owners Wednesday approved a new 10-year agreement that will make Nike Inc. and Fanatics Inc. the primary suppliers of apparel to the league’s teams and fans. Nike is No. 27 in the newly released Internet Retailer 2018 Top 1000. Fanatics is No. 29.
As of 2020, Nike will continue to make all on-field NFL apparel, including player jerseys and base layers. All of the fan gear—replica jerseys, warm-ups, championship t-shirts—will have the Nike logo, but they will be made and distributed by Fanatics.
Until this deal, Nike had been making everything. Splitting the award is a new strategy for the NFL, though Major League Baseball has struck a similar agreement with Under Armour Inc. (No. 33) and Fanatics, also set to start in 2020.
The world’s largest seller of licensed sports merchandise, Fanatics has focused on speed and distribution to offer leagues and teams a wider assortment of products at a faster pace. That includes their own Fanatics-branded apparel and apparel from other companies. Internet Retailer estimates Fantatics’ sales grew 28.5% in 2017 over 2016 to reach $2.07 billion, according to Internet Retailer’s Top500Guide.com.
The NFL has a small equity stake in the San Mateo-based company, which also runs the league’s online store and the online shops of many of its franchises.
Fanatics also recently launched its Jersey Assurance program, which allows a shopper to exchange her player jersey within 90 days if the professional athlete switches teams. The program also gives shoppers confidence to buy a jersey, which isn’t the lowest price point product, says Carolyne Matseshe-Crawford, vice president of Fan Experience at Fanatics.
“It’s definitely a brand loyalty play,” she says.
Since the program launched in 2107, thousands of shoppers have used it, says Matseshe-Crawford without revealing more.
April Berthene contributed to this report.Favorite