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England Rugby licensing set to reach new heights

The RFU and CPLG now looking ahead after 6 Nations sales success.

The RFU and CPLG are currently celebrating their 18th anniversary – something of a milestone for the licensing industry as their relationship continues to grow from strength to strength.

The Source caught up with licensing managers Daniel McGeehan of CPLG and Jane Barron from the RFU to find out more about the growth in the England Rugby licensing following a historic year in their long standing relationship.

The England Rugby licensing programme has been a huge success this year, gaining listings across most of the high street and grocery sector.

Jane Barron, licensing manager at RFU, said: “The last 18 months have been very rewarding with our England Rugby licensing programme seeing phenomenal growth. Strong performance has been driven by apparel sales from the England kit partner Canterbury and fashion ranges from Tri Distribution and Brecrest (babywear) under the England Rugby label into the high street, grocery and the RFU’s own retail channels.”

Simon Skene, director at Tri Distribution, shares his insight into how apparel has helped drive the England Rugby brand.

“Despite the challenges with shelf space in the highly sought after grocery sector, in a short time we have been able to double the coverage and units out in the market place. Tri’s relationship with our retail partners is built on trust, our experience and knowledge of the sport, and insight into the brand.

“When England hosted the RWC on home soil in 2015 this reinforced the public’s demand for England Rugby apparel, and to the extent that all of our partner retailers exceeded expectations threefold – and in some cases completely sold through before the tournaments even began.”

Simon continued: “The recent RBS 6 Nations achieved excellent sales and following the success of England as Grand Slam Champions bodes well for the future. The upcoming Old Mutual Wealth series this autumn should again prove extremely popular and provide an excellent opportunity for retailers to benefit from England Rugby’s increasing supporter base. The growth curve ahead for us looks very positive both on and off the field.”

Retailers really stepped up to play their part in the success, with strong sales seen in town and cities all the way from Sunderland to Plymouth – showing the vast reach of the game.

In order to help build this customer journey, George at Asda and Tu at Sainsbury’s also both ran well received customer competitions, offering fans the chance to win tickets to sell out games for the upcoming Old Mutual Wealth series. The social media imprint on these campaigns were among the highest of their spring/summer 2016 features, showing that rugby has earned its place within the mainstream fashion world.


England Rugby’s official mascot Ruckley also made his first appearance on the high street, appearing in Sainsbury’s St Clare’s store to interact with customers, and pose for all important photo opportunities.

In the sporting arena, Sports Direct has also been a supporter for the brand, holding an official direct to retail licence for apparel and accessories. The launch of the range has received wide spread industry recognition, with the number of options reaching over 40 skus across men’s, ladies and kidswear.

Following England’s first Grand Slam win in 13 years, Sports Direct, CPLG and the RFU worked together to launch an exclusive t-shirt within hours of the final whistle. This allowed fans to buy a celebratory winning garment on the same night as the result, showing responsive teamwork and speed to market.

The largest breadth and depth of England Rugby merchandise can be found in the RFU own retail channels. At Twickenham Stadium, The Rugby Store operates 7 days a week and expands to 3 physical stores and up to eight mobile units on an international match day and online retail partner Fanatics run

RFU’s channels have the ability and flexibility to respond to results with winning products and offers which can be marketed across the England Rugby digital and social channels. In the online world the Grand Slam range was available shortly after final whistle in Paris and physical product in store at Twickenham the next day.

Daniel McGeehan, business development manager, sport at CPLG, commented: “Following a historic year with unprecedented momentum gained in the licensing programme, CPLG and RFU are well on the way to achieving our long term strategy for England Rugby. In the short-term, the licensing programme is focusing on bringing on new lifestyle partners, who can lead the way for product featuring the iconic Twickenham history and imagery into both core and premium product categories.

“Our vision for England Rugby licensing is to capitalise on both the loyal fan base, and the growing number of casual supporters who love to watch the matches at home with friends and family. We will ensure we capitalise on this by delivering an innovative licensing programme that makes the industry sit up and take notice.

“Whilst we see very natural peaks around tournament timing, our goal is to ensure the brand is available to customers throughout out the country 365 days a year. And remember every penny the RFU makes is invested back into the game.”

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