]>Leagues, fitness brands play ball Licensed sporting goods may finally be on the rebound. While no major increases were recorded, licensed sales lost no ground. In fact, sales rose to just under $2.2 billion from $2.1 billion a year ago, approximately 11% of the total.Most manufacturers are using this stability to position for growth. Major League Baseball is going beyond the traditional baseball bat, recently adding such game accessories as pitch backs, batting Ts, pitching machines and bases to its product line. Top licensees include Wilson, Rawlings, Franklin and Louisville Slugger. Among the National Hockey League's latest items are indoor and outdoor roller hockey wheels by Red Star. Riddell Inc., the helmet licensee to the National Football League and MLB, reports its licensed product sales held steady over the past year. It recently ended its NASCAR product line, refocusing to core product such as helmets for collectors and sporting goods stores. Meanwhile, the NBA received strong response to the winter 2000 NBA & WNBA catalog mailed to 1 million fans. The sporting goods lineup included basketballs and player identified backboards by Huffy and Spalding plus an offer of a full-size professional basketball court for $250,000. Licensed fitness equipment remains an area with tremendous growth potential, and major fitness clubs are taking notice. Bally Total Fitness hopes to build on the success of its licensed Hand-Ex portable exercisers by seeking licensees for larger "footprint" type equipment. Gold's Gym recently licensed Icon Health and Fitness (Logan, Utah) for a complete line of home fitness equipment. Camouflage is adding flair to the sporting goods category, especially in hunting from firearms to binoculars. At Jordan Outdoor Enterprises the newest licensees include Wenger North America (Orangeburg, N.Y.) for Swiss Army knives in camouflage patterns.
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