Nike Inc. is selling its Umbro sports apparel and footwear unit to Iconix Brand Group Inc. for $225 million. The deal, which was announced this October, is expected to be signed before the end of the year. Experienced purchasing officials of athletic gear for ball clubs who buy soccer uniform each season will certainly recognize Umbro as an iconic sports brand. Based in Manchester, England, it has a heritage that dates back to its foundation in 1924. Umro’s early successes included the football kits it tailored for Manchester when this legendary soccer team won the 1934 FA Cup. Umro also counts as a long-time supplier of the team soccer uniforms for England’s national team.

Nike, based in Beaverton, Oregon, is as iconic as Umbro, having earned its worldwide reputation initially from running gear and later to apparel and equipment for other sports disciplines including those for soccer training and soccer coaching. Nike acquired Umro in 2008 for about $500 million, a move that was described as a “dynamic alignment” that opened more markets in Europe for the American company and propelled its bid to surpass Adidas as the biggest manufacturer of soccer apparel and equipment in the world. The long-standing deal of Umbro as a supplier for England’s national soccer squad was another big plus for Nike.

However, Nike’s expectations on the U.K. soccer apparel maker didn’t pan out as Umbro’s sales revenue dropped by about 19 percent between 2006 and 2011. Business analysts attributed the decline to the diminished role Umbro had in the Nike–Adidas competition in the market for soccer uniforms, related football gear, and soccer equipment. The impending Umbro sale, according to Nike CEO Mark Parker, is part of his company’s initiatives to focus corporate efforts on businesses units having the optimum potential in growth and profit generation.

Earlier, Nike also announced its intention to divest of its interest in Cole Haan, its unit involved in the manufacturing and selling of dress shoes. Nike likewise acquired and then sold hockey gear maker Canstar Sports and the Starter apparel brand.

Parker said that while his company recognizes Umbro’s great heritage, Nike believes it can serve footballers both on and off the soccer field with its strategy shift to focus on pushing growth in its Nike, Converse, Jordan, and Hurley brands.  The Nike and Converse brands, notably, have some football gear in their respective product lines which too are popular for youth soccer and soccer training.


Was The $225M Sale Of Umbro A Bad Move By Nike?

Umbro is a brand renowned across the world, thanks to its numerous sponsorships of popular soccer teams over the decades, including the Manchester City soccer team back in 1934, who went on to win the FA cup during the same year. Nike acquired the sportswear manufacturer in 2008, which was a move to counter Adidas’s acquisition of Reebok.

After investing millions into their subsidiary brand throughout the past years, Umbro’s future became a little hazy as Nike has announced its intentions to sell Umbro earlier this May. Interested investors pitched several offers to acquire the brand for sale, but all of which fell short of the original $580m purchase price Nike had to pay for five years ago.

Although the UK-based shoe-specialist has been struggling to rake in revenue above standards set by Nike, what really has observers puzzled is the fact that the latter let the former go for a significantly smaller price of $225M.

Nike eventually agreed to deal England’s beloved trademark to Iconix Brand Group – a brand management company that licenses brands to manufacturers and retailers – despite the fact they apparently seemed to be on the losing end of the bargain.

What’s even stranger is the fact that Nike has been “doing things” that’d make its former subsidiary appear less valuable, thereby justifying their reason to sell it for a much lower cost. Such suspicious moves includes Nike allowing Umbro kit deals with Swansea, Sunderland and West Brom slip passed their hands in favor of rival Adidas, whilst the company themselves stated that they’d be “taking the reigns” from Umbro at Manchester City.

To make matters worse, Nike announced that it’d be taking Umbro’s technical supplier position at the Football Association – a move that’d most likely bring Nike’s trademark to the FA Cup, St. George’s Park, Wembley Stadium and the England National Teams.

Despite the slight controversy, analysts believed that Nike played the game quite well. The short-term loss occurred with the sale of Umbro has actually paved the way for long-term deals with soccer teamssuch as that of Manchester City, as well as a series of other individual sponsorships.

In addition to effectively gaining rights to the soccer federation, Umbro’s qualities which made it attractive to potential competitors, such as Adidas, were eliminated. The lower price, along with hindered potential for immediate growth, made it a turn-off in the eyes of rivals, yet appealing to other “less-threatening” companies.

Nike Replaces Umbro As Official Provider Of Soccer Uniforms For The English Team

Sportswear giant Nike behind some of the most impressive soccer uniforms worn by professional teams today, and is about to sign a deal with the English soccer team that’ll increase its brand presence even more in Europe.

According to a news report by the British tabloid Daily Mail, the sports clothing manufacturer has come into an agreement with the English Football Association (The FA) wherein Nike shall replace Umbro as the official kit provider(soccer jerseys, cleats, etc.) of the English soccer team starting next spring.

Once the deal pushes through, Nike will be able to gain a competitive advantage over Adidas, which is currently dominating the soccer market in terms of market share. However, this has raised a few issues which need to be addressed.

First and foremost, it’s a known fact that Nike acquired the Manchester-based sportswear gear producer back in 2007. The main reason why they paid half-a-billion dollars to acquire these soccer uniforms and sports garment manufacturer in the first place was to scale its growing business in the European Market.

During that year, Nike’s move to buy Umbro was heavily influenced by the latter’s strong ties with the English soccer team, as well as the fact that it has been providing numerous high-profile clubs with soccer jerseys plus other soccer getups.

However, since Umbro wasn’t performing as well expected, Nike ultimately decided to put the company up for sale so that it could focus on developing its core brands.

And this is exactly where the conflict begins – potential buyers of Umbro would most certainly be attracted to the brand because of its dealings with the English soccer team. Since Nike will be replacing the company for sale as the official provider of soccer uniforms for the team, its net value would obviously go down, which could turn potential buyers off towards the notion of acquiring the company.

To make things even more difficult in terms of selling the Manchester-based company, Nike also made an announcement last May that it’ll be replacing Umbro as the official sponsor of the Manchester City Football Club starting this 2013/2014 season.

As perplexing as this may seem, other people argue that Nike could make up for the losses with profits raked in from its new deal with The FA (providing them with soccer jerseys and other garments.)Regardless, it’s still going to be tough to pull something like this off.

To Sell or Not To Sell: Nike’s Conundrum

Rumor has it that sportswear giant NIKE Inc. (NYSE:NKE) is all set to finalize a deal to become the official team soccer uniforms’ provider of the English National soccer team.  Daily Mail reports that Umbro, the existing sponsor will be replaced by Nike next spring.

If true, this move will strengthen Nike’s position against its arch rival Adidas (FRA:ADS), which currently is the leader in the soccer field in terms of market share. These developments though have raised a few eyebrows over its substance.

Manchester-based Umbro was acquired by Nike in 2007 for $565m to ensure greater scale to the growing European soccer market driven by soccer jerseys & accessories. The decision was made following Umbro’s strong association with the national team and high profile clubs like Manchester City F.C.

However, after five years, Umbro hadn’t provided the expected returns. Umbro’s revenues at just $224m in CY11’ showed no signs of improving. The news of Nike replacing Umbro as the official kit sponsor of Manchester City F.C. was then followed by the management diktat to sell Umbro along with its casual footwear brand Cole Haan & focus on Nike’s core brands. At this stage, the only reason why anybody would be interested in buying Umbro would be its association with the English National Soccer team.

If there’s any truth to these rumors, potential buyers of Umbro won’t see a potent enough reason to spend their bucks buying a yesteryear sports giant with not even an iconic sponsorship of the team soccer uniforms of the English National Soccer Team.  Another important consideration would be that the moment Umbro loses out on the English Soccer team, the valuation will plummet in case of a sell. One may argue that loses on account of this possible sale would be easily made up for with gains from possible novel deals with the FA, but that doesn’t seem to be an easy nut.

Umbro’s relationship with English soccer is long & endearing. The company’s association is deeply ingrained in the minds of millions of English Soccer fans. Not least of the issues is the head-raising of nationalistic pride among soccer fans? The replacement of Umbro by Nike would surely raise a few heckles. This possibility was further fueled when another apparel retailer Ralph Lauren (NYRSE: RL) drew large-spread criticism in the US after the US Olympics athletes were wearing uniforms that were made in China.

Nike surely is walking a high wire and if it wants to sell its soccer jerseys, it could well be a choice between mind & heart.

Choosing A Soccer Jersey

Soccer is indisputably one of the world’s favorite sports. People of all ages, regardless of gender, income, social or employment status, simply enjoy watching their favorite teams battle and compete against rivals live at stadiums or through television sets at home.

The fans’ love for this sport and their favorite players is what makes soccer jerseys sell so well. There are plenty of fans willing to spend substantial amounts of cash to get their hands on this type of merchandise; be it originals, replicas, retro, etc.

With all the designs, features and massive availability of these outfits, selecting the best one can be a little mindboggling for someone who easily gets overwhelmed when presented with numerous options. But as to make the task easier, there’s a variety of factors which need to be considered before making the final purchasing decision.

First and most obvious factor to consider is the favorite team or player, since many fans like sporting soccer jerseys based on this criterion alone. Other people can tell right off the bat what type of fan an individual is by merely looking at the designs of the uniform. Members of local clubs also enjoy wearing jerseys that represent their organizations, while others prefer wearing their country’s team jerseys.

Soccer outfits can also be purchased with custom designs and fits – to standout from other fans, some individuals like adding unique logos, personal names, numbers, or anything else that’d instantly distinguish them from the crowd.

If a buyer really wants to be unique, getting their hands on outfits which aren’t commonly worn will do the trick. Getups sporting vintage designs worn by the popular players the past (such as Maradona) have the advantage of being a cut above the rest. Although an uncommon jersey sporting retro designs will cost about $100 and beyond, most people feel that it’s well worth the price.

Purchasing soccer jerseys made by leading sportswear manufacturers such as Nike, Puma, Lotto and Adidas are excellent options. In terms of design and features, they have been known to produce some of the best replica kits available today.

The soccer specialists include special functions such as Dri-Fit or Clima Cool to help players keep dry by venting out heat and moisture. Getups made out of 100% polyester and mesh would make great choices, mainly because they’re lightweight, wick off sweat faster, and are generally durable materials.

Nike Soccer Uniforms Buying Guide

Nike is currently the industry leader in sports apparel, and has been known to release some of the best teams soccer uniforms today. However, just because they’re the best in the business, it doesn’t mean the only criterion left for a buyer to base his purchasing decision on is personal aesthetic taste.

Nike soccer uniforms come with a variety of features, and considering that most readers of this article are either amateur players or regular civilians who play the game just for fun, this article will be covering the essential features a soccer outfit should have to ensure optimal performance and comfort levels.

First and foremost, the ideal material that should be used in any teams soccer uniforms is 100% polyester. This fabric is incredibly lightweight, and dries pretty quickly in comparison to other materials. Nike’s trademark technology, Dri-FIT, further improves moisture and heat ventilation. Having such functions are crucial to boost performance and comfort levels.

To quicken the time it takes for a uniform to vent heat and moisture, see to it that mesh is placed at the sides and underarm areas. As an added bonus, the mesh helps improve breathability, therefore, increasing the player’s comfort levels, which ultimately leads to a spike in performance.

The sports apparel giant also releases outfits with additional features, such as mesh inserts around the collar area. This is a nifty feature that’d benefit players with additional comfort, since polyester rubbing around the neck can get really irritating.

When it comes to size, selecting teams soccer uniform that fits just right is crucial. Trainers and coaches know excessively tight outfits can hinder movement, which in turn affects a player’s ability to move about freely. Also, the absence of space between the fabric and skin isn’t good for proper ventilation.

On the other hand, getting uniforms that are too loose has a few drawbacks on its own as well. Wearing such apparel tends to make an individual more air-resistant, therefore, making it harder for him to run across the field over and over again.

Lastly, we have the price – some Nike soccer uniforms may be too expensive for some parents to afford. However, if the getups were to be purchased in bulk, vendors (especially online retailers) tend to offer special discounts. For a minimum purchase of $1000, some sellers tend to give a 20% discount. The magnitude of the discount given will vary from store to store, so it’s important to do ample canvassing before making the final purchase.

Nike Creates ‘Recycled’ Collection

Leading sports brand Nike recently unveiled its newest collection of team soccer uniforms, just in time for the upcoming European Championships kick off.

Soccer icons Cristiano Ronaldo, Wesley Sneijder, and Franck Ribery were all spotted donning Nike’s latest collection of soccer kits—but these are no ordinary uniforms.

Nike’s new line is proudly ‘recycled’. The brand boasts of their new soccer uniforms to be the most eco-friendly kits ever produced in the soccer team’s history. The team soccer uniforms are lighter, more breathable, and are 96% made from recycled material.

Each shirt is made out of discarded plastic bottles recycled into polyester. Averages of 13 plastic bottles make up one complete uniform. To produce the entire collection, almost 13 million discarded plastic bottles were melted down into fabric, creating polyester material enough to cover more than 29 football fields– all these would have all gone to waste otherwise.

Nike also reduced energy consumption by not having to manufacture virgin polyester. Most of the recycled bottles used came from landfills in Taiwan and Japan. With the crying need to save the environment, the sportswear manufacturing giant didn’t think twice to support this cause with these new team soccer uniforms. And they did this without sacrificing the trademark Nike comfort, style, and design engineering for maximum performance.

“This jersey represents the spirit of French elegance, something recognized all over the world,” says Laurent Blanc, France’s coach. “The true collar, the new blue, [and] the addition of red really enhance the new kit. It goes well with the philosophy I want to create: creativity, humbleness, and ambition,” he adds.

With this new creation, Nike has definitely raised the bar of sportswear all over the world. These new line of uniforms were created specifically for teams in France, Portugal, Holland, and the United States. Recent friendly matches have shown soccer teams sporting the new Nike collection.

“France is one of the most successful and well known teams in the world, and we look forward to delivering innovative products to help them perform on the pitch,” says Mark Parker, NIKE, Inc. President and CEO.

Nike hopes to inspire sports lovers across the world to do their own share in saving the environment. The World Cup and the European Championships are one of the most widely supported sports events in the world, and with soccer teams seen wearing Nike’s recycled eco-friendly creations, the brand hopes to take the lead in bringing this ‘green’ advocacy in the arena of sports.