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Fanatics expands into Japan

Online sports apparel and merchandise retailer Fanatics has today (Tuesday) announced the opening of a new Japanese division, which will be based in Tokyo.

Fanatics Japan will lead the initial expansion of the organisation’s operations throughout Asia. The move is in line with Fanatics’ expansion strategy to grow the licensed sports merchandise industry across key global markets.

Fanatics has appointed retail and marketing expert Masanori Kawana as managing director of Fanatics Japan. Kawana (pictured) will lead an initial team of about 30 employees, many of whom have links to the Japanese sports landscape through apparel brand Majestic, which was acquired by Fanatics in May 2017.

The new division will seek to build on Fanatics’ existing partnerships with Japanese baseball teams, while also incorporating the company’s manufacturing model to create a wider range of products through a more agile supply chain to satisfy the growing demand of fans in Asia.

Fanatics said that a focus would be placed on producing and distributing apparel for ‘micro moments’ such as record-breaking player feats, spectacular performances and memorable games.

Kawana, who recently founded the startup FanForward, which focuses on improving fan engagement through technology, will report directly to Steve Davis, president of Fanatics International. Davis was appointed to the role in September last year and has been tasked with leading the growth of Fanatics International.

Since taking the role, Davis has begun introducing Fanatics’ omni-channel platform across key regions to help top sports brands and teams provide a better service to their global fan bases through a wider merchandise range.

Kawana said: “The opening of the new Fanatics Japan division will allow us to build on the success that Majestic has experienced throughout the region, and to continue innovating the licensed sports merchandise industry as whole. I am excited to be joining the company during this time, and see a huge opportunity to expand our portfolio of top partners and brands across the entire sports landscape.”

Davis added: “As Fanatics continues to prioritise international expansion as a pillar of the company’s growth, it was incredibly important to add someone like Masanori to the team and utilise his expertise across consumer marketing and brand development to establish a strong presence in the region.

“There is an immense passion for sports across the region, and we are excited to significantly elevate the licensed sports industry and the assortment of high quality products available for top teams, brands and most importantly the fans.”

Fanatics runs ecommerce for all major North American sports leagues, and operates in-venue retail for over 35 professional and college teams, as well as the NBA basketball league’s flagship store in New York City.