Echoes from the past today following the announcement of a landmark agreement along the lines of a model more commonly seen across the pond in the US but which could just may make us the new Netflix. What does that mean? All shall be revealed below.
The biggest kit partnership deal in the club’s proud history, the first of it’s kind for elite sport in the UK, will see Castore, the UK-based manufacturer, provide playing kits and coaching apparel. Wolves will take on the manufacturing and distribution of replica products under licence from Castore.
So Wolves take Castore’s design, own the replica side and get a bigger slice of the money. Great but, and this will be familiar to those who have read this blog before, there was some initial scepticism on our part… Why’s that?
Well we’ve been here before haven’t we? Like your mum cutting your hair, or deciding to make a burger “as good as McDonald’s” out of a Daisy Freezer Centre frozen burger between two rounds of bread we’ve been burned (like the burger probably was).
Those of you old enough to remember may recall the first time in 92/93 with our ‘Molineux’ branded tyre-mark atrocity (or beauty if you are that was inclined)
Then a decade later, it was the turn of our ‘WWFC’-branded stuff that was pretty bad. Cue the ‘unholy trinity’ of homemade own label abominations from Wolverhampton Wanderers’s second‘dabbling with DIY’ period
During that period, if you wanted to buy a replica shirt you needed to come to Wolverhampton and visit the club shop. In fact I remember it being a novelty a few years later when the Admiral deal started and suddenly we were appearing in major retail shops again.
So now, we’ve missed a decade and 20 years from our first dabbling, fears of poor quality and impact on sales again get raised – time for a rant isn’t it?
Well no, not necessarily. Of course you never know how these things will turn out but we think it may be third time lucky for the homemade route Why?
Well the Adidas experience wasn’t all we hoped was it? There wasn’t much of a selection and the product wasn’t as robust as previous efforts. I’ve got a 1996 Puma shirt I must have worn a few thousand times that is in better nick than an Adidas one from two seasons ago which was worn a dozen.
Plus there is a new variable – a big one. Fosun.
The Fosun factor
We know that shirts now are produced in the vast majority of cases in the Far East. Indeed the above shirts that we describe as ‘homemade’ weren’t cut and sewn together by Doris in an office on the Waterloo Rd – they were outsourced to a third party company working in partnership with Wolves. It’s a bit like ASDA’s own brand beans – they don’t make them but they do have a working relationship with a company (that they may own part of) who make then on their behalf. Except now we aren’t on a standard template, will have a greater range that may be of better quality (we shall see) and that most importantly means more revenue into the club which may translate into investment, personnel and results on the pitch. All (potentially) good.
Which brings us to the question as to why…
Wolves may be the new Netflix?
Tongue is firmly in cheek here but you could say that from a business strategy it’s all about vertical integration. Take the likes of Netflix who were established at the end of the supply chain as a platform to distribute films and TV shows created by other content creators. They then procured and developed the ability to do it themselves, cutting out a dependency and introducing cost efficiencies implicit when you partner up with another company. Or Amazon who started as a book re-seller and now own their own media production output. Or Apple Inc a few years ago who bought up the chip manufacturer that supplied them (and also affected their competitors). All very smart examples of business strategy done well. Such things normally make me nervous but well… this is Wolves so the more profit and revenue that could be re-invested and translate to on-field success (please…) the better in my book. We are still playing catch-up with the Jones’s and this may help us. Those years in the second tier doldrums, behind even the Albion, really set us back.
Anyway… to answer a couple of you who messaged us earlier today expecting a rant about the relative merits of major brand versus outsource/homemade sorry that we can’t oblige. We shall reserve judgement but anything that adds more to the Molineux coffers while perhaps even giving us some shirts that are more robust and unique to us will be just lovely ta.
It will be interesting to see how the Pro Performance collection (which will be unveiled soon and will be worn by the first team but available for supporters to buy) will compare against the replica version when they get unveiled in late July. Maybe the subject of a blog soon.
So from our perspective – all good although that said… please don’t put blue stripes on the away kit this time.