German supermarket Lidl will not extend its title sponsorship of the French handball league after the 2020-21 season.
The brand has been named the ‘Lidl Starligue’ since the 2016-17 season, in a deal valued at about €1m ($1.1m) per year, according to the French sports news daily L’Équipe.
L’Équipe said the decision had been taken several months ago and was to be effective this summer, but was delayed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Michel Biero, executive director of purchasing and marketing for the brand, was quoted: “We don’t want to let go of the LNH (National Handball League) now in the midst of the Covid crisis. We are continuing one more season, because we are a responsible partner. Then we will take another strategy.”
Lidl, which is also the official food partner of the French handball federation, will focus in the future on local sponsorship with the clubs, whether professional or not.
Biero said: “After five years, Lidl is recognised as a partner for French handball in its entirety. We are not going to invest less, but invest differently. It is estimated today that by investing the same thing in the regions, it will be more profitable for us than having national naming rights. ”
Lidl first joined the French handball league as an official supplier in 2015 in order to help reposition the brand from a hard discount distributor to a mass market brand.
The sport’s popularity was high in France at the time because of the success of the French men’s national team at the 2012 Olympic Games and 2015 World Men’s Handball Championships The team subsequently won the 2017 World Men’s Handball Championships, hosted by France.