Jacksonville’s Fanatics Inc. to acquire Majestic sports apparel company

6 April 2017

Jacksonville-based Fanatics Inc. sports merchandise and apparel company continues to grow its assets with the acquisition of another sports retail business this week.

VF Corp. confirmed Tuesday that it has agreed to sell the Licensed Sports Group wing of its business to Fanatics. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed in a prepared statement issued by both companies.

VF Corp. is a lifestyle apparel, footwear and accessories company. The Licensed Sports Group component of the company includes the Majestic brand, which is popular among athletic apparel for professional sports teams, most notably in Major League Baseball.

Majestic President Mike Pardini said the move was a good fit for his company.

“It’s been since 2005 that we have been producing the jerseys that go onto the athletes who play Major League Baseball ….,” Pardini said in a news release. “We’ve got talented, committed and passionate associates across the board. They’re best in class and they have been for quite some time.”

The deal comes at a particularly fortuitous time for Fanatics. The company signed a major deal in October with uniform manufacturer Under Armour to outfit Major League Baseball teams with uniforms beginning in 2020.That deal was designed to replace Majestic Athletic’s current accord with MLB when it concluded in three years.

Just a few weeks after that deal with MLB, Fanatics inked a similar accord with the National Hockey League, a 16-year-deal to manufacture and sell jerseys and other gear. Fanatics will also handle specialty manufacturing of jerseys such as championship gear for teams following the the NHL Stanley Cup final and other events.

Fanatics owner and Executive Chairman Michael Rubin said this week’s deal with Majestic only emboldens the company that started out as a single merchandise store in The Avenues mall in Jacksonville in 1995 and quickly evolved into an online retailer.

“Fanatics is a leading retailer of licensed sports merchandise. One that started as a direct consumer internet business,” Rubin said, noting Majestic followed a similar path. “When I think of the two companies, I think about building one of the leading vertical retail companies in the world.”

For Fanatics, the latest acquisition is an extension of what has developed into a sports retail empire as the company already had official licensing deals with most major sports leagues to sell their products online.

The company is worth more than $1 billion — some media accounts have placed the value at $3 billion as of 2014, although the company declines to disclose its assets — and it keeps growing.

Internet Retailer, which tracks ecommerce businesses, ranked Fanatics Inc. as 42nd among the top internet retailers in the U.S. with $990 million in 2013 sales, up from $764 million in 2012. The company has posted a 29.6 percent growth rate since 2009. Fanatics was the highest-ranked sports apparel company on the list, with Nike Inc. coming in at No. 64 and Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc. No. 72. Amazon.com, which sells sports apparel and a plethora of other merchandise, was ranked first.

At its Jacksonville headquarters, Fanatics revamped a mammoth warehouse at 5245 Commonwealth Ave. The company also added a manufacturing facility of about 200,000 square feet in the Westside Industrial Park, where it’s leasing the space for the Fanatics apparel division that personalizes and customizes products.

In recent years, the company opened offices in New York, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Denver, Chicago and Fort Lauderdale. Distribution sites and warehouses have expanded to a total of 1.5 million square feet across the country outside of Columbus, Ohio; Louisville, Ky.; and Fort Lauderdale, which is the location for its sports memorabilia division known as Fanatics Authentic.

While Majestic through VF Corp. has agreed to the acquisition, the deal isn’t expected to close for several weeks, if not months. VF Corp. is headquartered in Greensboro, N.C.; details on how the acquisition might impact employees or company operations have not been released, although a Majestic statement said its MLB products will continue to be produced in its facility in Easton, Pa.