New Balance to handle the Italian market directly
New Balance will handle the Italian market directly. According to the Italian media, the US sport outfitter has acquired Gartner Sports, its Italian distributor since 1996. The transaction will be made operational in the next few weeks.
The relationship between the two parties was tight, with the American group even becoming a shareholder in the Italian company in the early 2000s.
Gartner Sports has been established in the Alpine city of Bolzano for more than 50 years. Initially it was specialised in mountain sports, particuarly skiing. Then the company diversified, distributing team sport brands such as Puma in the 1960s and '70s, followed by Uhlsport and Gola. Gartner Sports became a group in the 1990s-2000s, focusing then on the distribution of New Balance. The Pro Sport company was created to market the Uhlsport and Kempa brands, while the Interga company specialised in more fashion-oriented labels. Interga today markets brands such as Gola, Hummel and Merc in Italy, but is also active in Germany and Austria.
The New Balance group was in the past highly focused on the USA, but has now adopted a more international strategy. The group has entered the football market, becoming the supplier of renowned European teams such as Liverpool, Porto (Portugal) and Sevilla FC (Spain). According to the Italian media, it is expected to supply next season's team kit for Rome team Lazio. New Balance also kicked off a global multi-sports communications campaign, designed to widen its influence.
Alfico is New Balance's partner company in Spain, while the Royer group holds the licence for France, Germany and Benelux.
New Balance is among the challengers to the two worldwide sporting giants, Nike and Adidas. The group generated a revenue of $3.3 billion in 2014, and is targeting $6 billion in 2020.
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