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Rugby World Cup – short-term sales spike or long-term springboard? Asks Rob Davies, international brand manager at Gilbert

With the start of the sixth IRB Rugby World Cup not far away, you can be sure that the sport will be in the spotlight for several months to come; not only catching people’s interest on a one-off ‘supporter’ basis, but also hopefully encouraging more and more youngsters to take up the sport.

So what does a retailer need to do to cash in on this four-yearly boost to their potential rugby market?

Most importantly, they need to do it properly – by which I mean stock everything they would need to play the sport. Too many retailers with a rugby department stock balls and nothing else. While this will no doubt help them to put a spike in their sales figures over a short period of time spanning tournaments, it does a disservice to the players that are looking for real kit all year around, and in particular at the start of the season.

Those that do it well not only offer kit from all sectors of the market – balls, boots, apparel, protective wear and, for the very best among them, training equipment – but they also offer a variety of models and brands.

And then there are the clubs. Why sell shirts one at a time when with a relatively small amount of additional effort, you can sell them 25 at a time, along with the tracksuits, fleeces, shorts, socks, t-shirts, bags and assorted extras that clubs will always need?

Despite, or possibly even thanks to, the growth of online options and sales to clubs, there is a large place in the market for the retailer that services clubs well. Customers, however hi-tech or modern, enjoy knowing that someone is looking after their interests and following their order through from start to finish. Get it right from the start and they will not be looking to move on, thereby opening up the possibility of consistent year-on-year growth for your rugby business.

In order to meet the requirements of rugby teams more effectively, Gilbert has launched a new teamwear catalogue focusing on team requirements, with the facility to customise not only match shirts but also a number of the key training, leisure and performance items with specific club colours, logos and numbers.

We expect that the combination of more and more high-profile contracts, allied to a strong advertising campaign and back-up service required by retailers to enable them to compete against direct and internet sellers, will ensure Gilbert teamwear continues to be at the forefront of an exciting and demanding product category. Our sales force is well versed in the specific demands of the teamwear sector and are always available with samples to assist retailers wherever possible.

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