Umbro’s recent re-emergence in the rugby kit supplier market has taken another big step forward with its confirmation of a deal with Bristol Bears. The Umbro brand came in for much scrutiny last week when it was announced that they have secured a four-year deal to take over from Canterbury and become the kit suppliers to Eddie Jones’ England.
The sports clothing manufacturer had old traditions with rugby, supplying kit to England and the British and Irish Lions in the 1980s, but it had long since become associated with England football and the RFU’s deal was negatively received by a number of rugby fans.
Seven days after the announcement of that £20million plus deal, it has now emerged that Umbro have also broken into the Gallagher Premiership market, securing a long-term deal with Bristol Bears to take over its kit requirements following its six-year association with Bristol Sport.
The length of the contract or its value hasn’t been confirmed but Jon Lansdown, Bristol Sport chairman and Bears director, told the club’s website: “We are very proud of the kits that Bristol Sport have produced, over the past six years. Since the Bears rebrand, the innovation shown in designing and creating the team’s jerseys has led to record sales.
“It was important for us to maintain that individual appeal, but also to push on to the next level, which is why the partnership with a globally recognisable brand like Umbro is a great fit.
“Umbro have been designing performance products for almost a century. Their expertise in logistics, resourcing and scale are going to be a huge asset in helping us to meet demand and to grow the Bears identity and vision.”
Sam Lucas, head of sponsorship at Umbro UK, added: “We have stated our intention to credibly support rugby through our partnership with England rugby. “Joining forces with Bristol Bears, an exciting club, on a journey to great things, complements this on a domestic and regional level.
“At the same time, the partnership helps us to deepen our connection with the sport, its fans and the wider rugby community. The club’s rich history echoes our own. Over the years we have created elite-level products and are looking forward to bringing this experience to bear through our relationship with the club.”
"I suspect the union thought it was revealing a bit of good news amid the gloom, but I got messages on Twitter calling it 'an absolute disgrace' and 'bargain bin stuff' to cite just a couple of examples"
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) May 7, 2020
Bristol’s switch to Umbro is the second change in the kit supplier market to the Premiership this week as Worcester revealed on Monday they are moving from VX3 to O’Neills for the 2020/21 season.
The arrival of Umbro and O’Neills on the Premiership scene for next term further highlights how the English top-flight doesn’t have a dominant player in the kit supply market as there were eleven different suppliers to the league’s 12 clubs in 2019/20.
PREMIERSHIP KIT SUPPLIERS 2019/20
Canterbury – Bath
Samurai – Exeter, Sale
Bristol Sport – Bristol (Umbro for 2020/21)
Oxen Sports – Gloucester
Adidas – Quins
Kukri – Leicester
BLK – London Irish
Macron – Northampton
Nike – Saracens
Under Armour – Wasps
VX3 – Worcester (O’Neills for 2020/21)
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