• Retail Dive

Fanatics hires former Rue La La CEO

Dive Brief:

· Sports merchandise retailer Fanatics announced Tuesday it has tapped former Rue La La CEO Steve Davis (who stepped down last year) as president of Fanatics International, reporting to CEO Doug Mack, according to a press release.

· Davis previously oversaw global operations for eBay-owned e-commerce and marketing solutions company GSI Commerce in Spain, where he developed synergies between the global and North American arms of the company, helping to grow the business abroad with a focus on mobile commerce.

· The hire comes on the heels of Fanatics closing an investment round from SoftBank’s Vision Fund, which has deep ties throughout Asia-Pacific, and which the company said will play a key role in creating a stronger connection in the region.

Dive Insight:

Over the last year, Fanatics has made a major push to establish partnerships with major sports leagues. In addition to winning a 10-year contract from Major League Baseball to make and sell licensed jerseys and other apparel to consumers, Fanatics has new arrangements with NASCAR and the National Hockey League. Earlier this year, Fanatics also acquired the Majestic sportswear manufacturing operation along with VF Corporation's Licensed Sports Group business.

The appointment of Davis, with his international expertise, is an acknowledge of the growing enthusiasm for American and other international sports teams abroad. In 2016, Fanatics made a significant investment to grow its international division by acquiring U.K.-based online retailer Kitbag, an official partner of top football clubs, including Manchester United, Real Madrid, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, Borrussia Dortmund, among others.

Davis will lead growth of that international division, which provides a omnichannel platform to help sports brands and teams reach global fan bases. He and his team will also begin building a worldwide manufacturing and distribution infrastructure to support Fanatics’ vertical merchandise model, based on its approach in North America, the company said.

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