The OneRugby Group of companies has been appointed for the British & Irish Lions tour to New Zealand next year.
OneRugby, a multi-national brand management, licensing and merchandising company with offices in Australia, New Zealand and Wales, has become a world leader in its field since it was set-up by joint managing directors James Pegum and Gareth Sykes in December, 2002. With headquarters in both hemispheres, in Cardiff and Sydney, the OneRugby Group has already signed official deals with the Australian and Welsh Rugby Unions. Today they are able to add the British & Irish Lions to their ever-expanding list of rugby clients. 'It is a great honour for OneRugby to win the race to be appointed by the British & Irish Lions. The Lions tour to New Zealand at the end of next season promises to be one of the biggest sporting events in the world in 2005,' said James Pegum, OneRugby's northern hemisphere managing director. 'Our job is to maximise the commercial potential of the tour for the Lions and to ensure that fans throughout the UK, Ireland and New Zealand can get access to top quality merchandise. We want to ensure that everyone who wants to back the team, and become a part of the Lions experience, can do so with the opportunity to buy both the fantastic range of adidas replica product and much more. 'The key to that is making the merchandise as accessible as possible and all the early signs are that retailers around the country are preparing for record sales drives. The on-line shop on www.lionsrugby.com will be open for business by the end of August and there will be a full range of top quality products in stores across the UK and Ireland for Christmas. "Best estimates suggest that merchandise sales for the last Lions tour to Australia in 2001 rose to around Â£15 million.
"However, England's victory in the 2003 Rugby World Cup has had huge repercussions for merchandise sales and we want the Lions to build on that success. 'If successful, we believe we can raise the level of sales to somewhere between Â£60-80 million, which would mean a major financial return to the Lions themselves.' The move by British & Irish Lions officials to appoint OneRugby means that for the first time in their long and illustrious history their merchandising programme will be operated by one company. It means fans will be able to buy into an extensive range of high quality, official products safe in the knowledge their purchases will have a direct impact on securing the future of the Lions.
"This appointment will not only protect the Lions brand and maximise revenue streams, but also have a direct and positive impact on rugby fans," said British & Irish Lions chief executive John Feehan.
"Lions merchandise has always been available but, for the first time, we will be able to control the quality of the product and ensure that fans can buy exactly what they want, when the want because we have a team of experts managing the situation for us.
"The knock-on effect will be to reduce the amount of low quality, pirate product available in the market place, which can only be good for the consumer."
With an estimated 12,000 Lions fans already signed up with official tour operators to travel down under at the end of May next year the 12th British touring team to head to New Zealand is set to become the best supported in its history. And with the northern hemisphere proudly holding the Webb Ellis Trophy, and the current All Blacks side coached by the ex-Lions coach Graham Henry, there is bound to be a lot at stake in the 10 match, three Test tour. That's why OneRugby are gearing up for a massive marketing exercise in New Zealand over the next 10 months under the guidance of their southern hemisphere Managing Director, Gareth Sykes. "There will be fully stocked merchandise stalls at every venue on the tour and we will be working closely with the New Zealand rugby union to ensure that 2005 will be a financial success for everyone involved," said Sykes.
"We will be producing a wide range of gifts, souvenirs and memorabilia, including computer games, clothing, home wares and of course the official replica shirts.
"Each item will also be available for on-line purchase
at www.lionsrugby.com making this a truly global operation. We want to ensure no stone is left unturned in our quest to cater for demand in a truly global rugby market place. "This has to be one of the most fantastic missions in the world. The New Zealanders can't wait to have the Lions back with them for the first time since 1993, but we genuinely believe they don't fully appreciate what is going to hit them - both on and off the field.
'The Australian tour of 2001 was a phenomenal success for the Lions but, with England having won the World Cup and the game being on such a
high in the northern hemisphere, this tour is shaping up to be even bigger and better. "The demand for Lions merchandise in Australia three years ago was so great they literally ran out of red material. Our job is to make sure that doesn't happen in New Zealand and we turn the land of the long white cloud into a great red blanket!"