Rajasthan Royals looks to sports brands for retail partner

By Sumantha Rathore , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | November 24, 2008
Rajasthan Royals had Reebok as its retail partner for its first season. Now, Emerging Media is in talks with Nike, Adidas and Puma, in addition to Reebok, for the second season of the IPL

The & #BANNER1 & # winner of last year's Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament, Rajasthan Royals, which is owned by Emerging Media, is in talks with sports brands to partner it for the retailing of merchandising products.

Rajasthan Royals had Reebok as its retail partner for its first season. But now, Emerging Media is in talks with Nike, Adidas and Puma, in addition to Reebok, for a retail partnership for the second season of the IPL.

"The talks are in an advanced stage of negotiation. We are waiting for the Champions League to get over. Soon after that, we'll finalise the deal," Utkarsh Singh, head, business development, Emerging Media, tells afaqs! "Everything, including operational delivery, distribution, royalty structure and innovation, will be crucial in deciding on a partner."

Though Singh did not put a figure to the revenue generated from the merchandising initiative last season, he says it was enough to give them the confidence that their merchandise will do well in the future.

Emerging Media offers various products such as jerseys, practice T-shirts, bags, sporting goods, team caps and autographed bats as merchandise. In the first season of the IPL, Rajasthan Royals merchandise was available in Reebok outlets for a short while. But this year, the IPL franchisee has decided to get aggressive with its merchandising business.

Singh says, "Though we had launched a range of products during the first season of the IPL, this time we are doing it on a much larger scale."

In a first move, it has already started selling its merchandise online through its official website, www.rajasthanroyals.com. The prices for the various products range between Rs 1,000 and Rs 1 lakh.

Besides the sportswear, Emerging Media is also planning to launch formal wear and children's products. "We are in talks with many Indian and international brands to launch formal wear, including Jodhpuris and other apparel," says Singh.

The IPL winner is also leaving no stone unturned to increase its fan base. For one, it has decided to increase the interaction between the fans and the team. Emerging Media has formed a membership programme called Royals Army in order to reach out to Rajasthan Royals fans both in the country and outside it.

The Royals Army membership programme has five fan categories, Maharaja Club, Captain's Club, Royal Lions Club, Royal Bugles Club and Young Royals Club, with membership fees ranging between Rs 2,500 and Rs 1.5 lakh. The benefits for the members include season tickets, autographed bats, official team jerseys, preferential access to tickets sold online and invitations to the season ending party.

The franchise is planning to come up with other activities as well, such as cricket clinics and talent hunts in Rajasthan, consumer activation programmes, and meet and greet cricketer and fan interactions in the near future.

It is also learnt from informed sources that Emerging Media is looking at raising Rs 100-150 crore by disinvesting 10 per cent stake in the franchise.

When asked about an image makeover for the Rajasthan Royals, Singh says, "We may do it at some point of time, but not now."

For the record, Rajasthan Royals is the Jaipur based team of the DLF Indian Premier League. Lachlan Murdoch, son of media baron Rupert Murdoch, is a shareholder in the franchise.

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