Liverpool FC tells LBN it is ‘in discussions’ to sell merchandise in sports and department stores in the US with a plan to eventually open its own standalone retail outlets. Tony McDonough reports
Liverpool FC plans to open standalone retail stores in the US selling club merchandise.
In an interview with LBN, the club’s head of merchandising and retail, Mike Cox, said that it was still in the “early days” of fully exploiting the potential for overseas merchandise sales.
In its last annual accounts published early last year (the club’s latest accounts are imminent), Liverpool generated £218m in commercial revenues. This comprises sponsorships agreements, retail sales and income from the museum and tours.
In the last few days the Reds have unveiled their latest merchandise collection – a collaboration with US basketball legend LeBron James called the LFC xLeBron collection. It includes a range of fashion and footwear.
The billionaire NBA icon owns a minor stake in Liverpool FC via RedBird Capital Partners. RedBird acquired a 10% stake in the club from owners Fenway Sports Group in March 2021 for £533m.
James previewed the LFC Nike LeBron XX Low Shoe at a recent LA Lakers game, during which the four-time NBA champion made history by scoring a 20-point triple-double.
Mike Cox says the tie-up with James could help take Liverpool to “a different place”. He explained: “As a football club very similar to many lifestyle brands, the right collaboration can elevate you as a brand.
““The goal for us is to provide different merchandise for our existing fans and also attract new fans to the club… he has a massive fan base in certain countries so if we can tap into that it helps us as a club in the longer term.”
This latest collaboration will do the club no harm in its efforts to grow its merchandise sales in the US. The country is already in its top 10 for retail sales but Mike said there are plans to expand this significantly.
“There is still massive potential for us to realise the opportunity there. We are growing our e-commerce business in the US. The goal for us is to provide different merchandise for our existing fans and also attract new fans to the club.
“We are looking at how we can take a different approach to realise that growth potential. We are in discussions with a couple of potential partners out there to expand our retail footprint.
“We don’t have an in-store offering in America and we are in the process of trying to finalise that. The long-term goal would be to have standalone stores there, as in other countries.”
LFC currently operates 10 retail overseas retail outlets, mainly in the Far East, with an 11th planned for Malaysia in the spring. It also has a presence in more than 200 sports and department store outlets.
In December the club announced it was extending its partnership with Weston Corporation, the club’s official retail partner in Singapore, for a further five years.
Weston is Singapore’s premier football store, and currently operates LFC standalone stores at Bugis Junction and Queensway Centre, along with branded shop-in-shop locations off and online.
“We have a really good established partner in Thailand, a division of Central Group,” added Mike. “You could argue they are the best retail company in Thailand. That is what we try to do is replicate our business with very high class retail operators.
“And that is Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Middle East where we also have plans to expand. We are also looking to grow in Africa and Indonesia.”
Despite the strong focus on overseas sales the club is certainly not neglecting its domestic retail market. In the last few days it has unveiled a new look for its 18,500 sq ft store in Liverpool ONE.
“The domestic market is more mature than the international market but there is still potential for growth,” said Mike.
“When you enter the Liverpool ONE store it is a lot lighter and brighter. We have tried to take on board the fan feedback we have received.
“We have incorporated more elements of what you would find in and around Liverpool. Some of that industrial heritage – bricks, steel. And we have taken some elements from the Anfield store.
“It is a lot different in look and feel to where we were before. That was more of a darker environment that was on trend a few years ago. We have opened up the frontage on the ground and first floors to allow more light in.”