Fanatics and Nike have signed a new partnership with Japan’s Tokyo Giants, also known as the Yomiuri Giants, the first individual pro team to sign onto the new three-way apparel model that Fanatics is adopting around the globe.
Under the new set-up, which starts this year, Nike will become the Japanese baseball team’s jersey partner, but Fanatics will manufacture and distribute all of the Nike-branded uniforms and fan gear. Michael Rubin’s company will also exclusively operate the Giants’ online and physical stores, and become the team’s master licensee for all apparel and hardgoods.
The three-way partnership with Nike is similar in structure to deals that the two companies have inked with the NFL, MLB and a number of U.S. colleges. It allows Nike (NYSE: NKE) to simplify its major pro sports deals by ceding manufacturing of its products, and gives Fanatics an opportunity to become more directly entwined in Nike’s $162 billion sporting empire.
“For a club as prestigious as the Yomiuri Giants to put its faith in Fanatics is testament to the success of this game changing model we have built with Nike,” Doug Mack, CEO of Fanatics Commerce, said in a statement.
Financial specifics of the arrangement weren’t provided.
Making product bearing other brands’ logos is a lesser-known part of the Fanatics business, one that also brings significant scale. Fanatics now makes all the Nike fan gear and on-field uniforms in MLB, capabilities that came through its 2017 purchase of Majestic, and it makes all the Nike fan gear (but not the on-field uniforms) in the NFL.
The arrangement lets Nike reap many of the benefits of being the Giants’ jersey partner, while removing the manufacturing and distribution costs from its P&L. The Oregon-based company can focus primarily on the marketing and on-field aspects of these deals, while retailers will soon be able to source Giants apparel from the same place they get Nike’s MLB product.
The world’s largest seller of licensed sports apparel, Fanatics is also looking to grow its business overseas, where it isn’t as entrenched as it is in the U.S. This deal with the Giants, which have won a record 22 Nippon Professional Baseball titles, expands an overseas portfolio that includes English soccer clubs Chelsea and Manchester United and French soccer club Paris Saint-Germain.
Fanatics will exclusively operate the Giants’ online shop, and the team’s physical retail locations, including a refurbished shop at the Tokyo Dome that will open before the 2023 season. Fanatics will also become the master licensee for apparel—a role it has started to adopt with some of its college partners—and sell new Giants collectibles through its growing memorabilia division.
Nike’s market cap, as of Monday close, was $162 billion. Fanatics raised money earlier this year at a $27 billion valuation.
(This article has been updated in the second paragraph to include hardgoods in the scope of the master licensee program.)