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10 Minutes With … Fanatics

License Global sits down with Younes Layati, senior director, licensing, Fanatics, Inc, a global digital sports platform and provider of licensed sports merchandise, to talk about the culture of sports brands.

Ian Hart

August 17, 2022

3 Min Read
Younes Layat
Younes Layat.Fanatics

Tell us a little about your background and how you fell into the licensing industry. 

Younes Layati: I’ve always been a sports fan, and a football fan especially. I grew up dreaming of collecting the jerseys of (Zinedine) Zidane, (Eric) Cantona, (George) Weah, Ronaldo and Matt Le Tissier (yes, odd one, I know). So, it seemed obvious to me to go for a career in sports business. I started at Nike in football, taking care of the French national team merchandising program, which was a dream job for me. This is where my journey in licensing started. I spent a decade at “the Swoosh,” before moving to Fanatics in 2020 to drive licensing. 

How does sport differ, from the U.S. to Europe, regarding brand engagement? 

That’s the main question, does it really differ? Brand engagement is huge everywhere if you have genuine passion around a club, federation or institution. I strongly suggest watching the footage of Argentinian player, Paulo Dybala, being welcomed by the AS Roma Tifosi, after signing for the club from rivals, Juventus, earlier this summer. This is a huge example of brand engagement. 

So, I don’t think the difference is on engagement, but much more in business culture. In the U.S., sports-branded products are much more common on retail shelves. Which makes sports licensing programs a huge success and this is our core belief – the best licensees are the ones on shelves. 

Related:10 Minutes With … Perfetti van Melle

What brands and properties will Fanatics be highlighting and showcasing at Brand Licensing Europe in September and what are your expectations for the show? 

We will showcase the likes of Paris Saint Germain, Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, Aston Villa FC, Everton FC. Quite a long and yet not exhaustive list of the brands that we will be happy to discuss with any interested partner.  

BLE is the appropriate platform, in terms of timing and exposure, to continue the global expansion of our partners. 

Does this signal a move to further expand across Europe?  

Fanatics has a global presence with more than 50 offices across Asia, North America, Europe and South America and we are always looking at ways to grow and expand our business. Europe is an important part of our plans moving forward of course, sports fans are passionate across the continent and, as I mentioned earlier, we believe they haven’t had as much access to great sports-branded products as in other areas of the world. 

How are you looking to work with licensors and retailers in 2023? 

At Fanatics, we believe that a retail presence is at the core of any licensing program execution. We are always willing to deepen and strengthen our relationships with retailers to accompany them in their strive for better execution and innovation. Moreover, this is fundamental in our approach from scratch at licensees’ recruitment phase. So, we are looking to work with both, to offer best exposure of our brands in relevant retail doors. 


Brand Licensing Europe returns to London's ExCeL Sept. 20-22, with exhibitors spanning a range of categories, a new Fashion theme highlighting exciting lines from leading brands, exciting seminar content and more!  

You can find Fanatics at booth E241. Click here to register for BLE 2022.  

About the Author(s)

Ian Hart

Senior Digital Editor U.K. & EMEA, License Global

Ian joined the License Global editorial team in May 2022 as digital editor for the U.K. and EMEA, becoming Senior Digital Editor in April 2023.

Ian is a huge fan of sports and entertainment brands and, as a father, toys and kids' brands are a large part of his life!

He has been at Informa (formerly UBM) since 2018, where he was previously the editor of SHP, a B2B digital publication aimed at health & safety professionals.

Ian studied journalism at university before spending seven years in online fantasy gaming. Prior to moving to Informa, Ian worked in B2B trade print media, in the automotive sector, working on various publications aimed at independent automotive technicians and parts distributors.

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