Team sports have a permanent place in our society. There are more than 100,000 team sports clubs in Germany and Austria alone. Athletes having the correct and, above all, same gear plays a particularly important role. SPORT 2000 has a range of top international brands, such as hummel and PUMA, equipping clubs with the highest quality. We asked André Navratil, Category Manager of SPORT 2000 International for Running, Training, Leisure, Team Sports, Funwheel for Footwear & Equipment; Anders Lind-Jensen, Brand Manager, SPORT at hummel; and Gary Dixon, Head of Business Unit Marketing Team Sports of PUMA, to join us for an interview to get insights into the team sports sector from the sports retailer’s perspective.
The sports may vary, but the team spirit, the togetherness and the fun of the sport always remains constant. “Many people only think of football when they think of team sports, but there are many others beside. There’s basketball and handball, of course, but also volleyball, field hockey, rugby, American football or various racket sports that are part of the team sports sector,” says André Navratil, Category Manager of SPORT 2000 International. He goes on to say that people are longing for shared sports experiences again, especially after the pandemic. Not just for exercise, but also to experience sporting events together. The fact that major sporting events such as the European Football Championships and the Olympic Games were able to be staged again is therefore particularly important for clubs and fans alike. Major sporting events featuring media coverage and public audiences are particularly important in the team sports sector for brands like hummel and PUMA, as they make brands particularly visible. Brands can clearly position themselves as strong partners for clubs and athletes in this kind of environment.
Sports retail as a touchpoint
“The degree of professionalisation has already increased significantly even in small sports clubs. Professional-looking sports gear, like football jerseys with names and sponsors, is a visible sign of their sense of community. Sports equipment is a core element of a team sports club,” Navratil knows. He adds that many clubs turn directly to the regional sports retailer for team equipment. Because it is often the sports retailer that is the touchpoint between the industry and the customer. Customers and industry partners expect the highest level of quality, expertise and advice from their sports retailers. SPORT 2000 is securing its path into the future with its ABSOLUTE Retail format launched two years ago in the RUN and TEAM SPORTS sectors. Read here how three ABSOLUTE retailers are implementing this concept.
hummel and PUMA make a strong case for team sports clubs
The team sports business is a highly competitive market determined by price, quality and availability. Clubs expect a wide range of products in different colours and designs, and also have high demands on the quality of the products. Because the truth is that these products are not always treated gently – both in use and in care. “A lot of time is invested in various product tests to meet customer expectations,” says Lind-Jensen, continuing that availability of the sports products is also an important element of being seen as a strong partner for clubs. It is therefore important in the team sports sector to focus not only on the functionality and quality of the sports products, but also on design and services. “Our mission is to use innovation to drive sport forward. We are trying to go beyond the needs of the end user and develop game-changing products to best support the clubs’ performance,” says Gary Dixon, Head of Business Unit Marketing Team Sports at PUMA.
Strong focus on team sports
SPORT 2000 has exclusive top brands such as hummel and PUMA on its side, which individually equip team sports clubs. Everyone involved benefits from the strategic partnership. “We see the global cooperation with SPORT 2000 International as an opportunity to build a good working relationship and provide mutual support,” says Anders Lind-Jensen, Brand Manager, SPORT at hummel. And even though the team sports business declined massively during the initial period of the pandemic due to the steps that were taken to protect health, team sports are now bouncing back again with strong growth. “Since the relaxation of restrictions and the consequent recovery, we can see that the interest in and demand for team equipment in Europe is increasing significantly again,” said Gary Dixon, Head of Business Unit Marketing Team Sports at PUMA. Like PUMA, hummel is looking to a strong future for team sports in sports retail.
Team sports offline and online
In an increasingly digital age, it is even more important for people to be able to meet in person, such as during sport. When different people get together, it often gives rise to trends that influence the sports trade. New sports are constantly emerging, such as padel in the racket sports sector. “Handball and basketball are also becoming increasingly popular,” says Navratil, and continues to explain that e-sports is an increasingly important business segment affecting sports retailers. The gaming industry now generates more revenue than the film industry. “Gamers see themselves as athletes who train together, play together and talk about success and defeat. Major e-sports tournaments, product drops in online games and millions of followers all point the way to a successful future. A few sports brands have already focused on e-sports. But it will be exciting to see how the two worlds will come together in the end,” says André Navratil.
High demands on team sports equipment suppliers
Lifestyle is also an increasingly important factor in the team sports sector. “The outfits and equipment need to convey a statement, both on and off the pitch,” Navratil knows, adding that certain collections are specifically aimed at meeting the visual demands of customers, both on and off the pitch. Although the hummel and PUMA brands each have cutting-edge lifestyle sportswear in their product ranges, the main focus for both is on team sports outfits and equipment.
According to the experts from the industry and at SPORT 2000, a wide range of products in different colours and designs, top quality and rapid availability are the best combination to meet the expectations of team sports clubs in the way they expect.