Errea confident of Iceland sticking to new kit deal despite Euro 2016 heroics
By Martin Ross
Errea, the Italy-based sportswear manufacturer, is confident that the terms of a kit supply deal signed ahead of Euro 2016 with the KSI, the Icelandic soccer association, will be adhered to, despite the team’s surprise success at the tournament and interest from "giants" in the sector.
Errea, which is based just outside Parma, has been Iceland’s kit supplier since 2002, and has a modest budget compared to the high-profile operators in the teamwear business, but succeeded in renewing its deal with the KSI until 2020.
Speaking to Sportcal as this year’s championships drew to a close, export manager Fabrizio Taddei said: “The contract was signed just before the Euros. We hope that it will stay as we agreed.
“They have been approached before the Euros by the so-called sports giants and happily they decided to stay with us, more because of the development of the relationship over 14 years. I do not expect them to ask to renegotiate the terms, but that’s my personal opinion and unfortunately I don’t have a crystal ball.”
Iceland’s qualification for the first 24-team European Championships meant a debut at the tournament for both the country and Errea, which has previously supplied the kit of European minnows Cyprus, Luxembourg and Malta, plus the United Arab Emirates for the London 2012 Olympics soccer competition.
Iceland’s surprise victories over England and Austria at Euro 2016 grabbed the attention of the international sporting public and sparked a surge in replica shirt sales across Europe as the team ultimately bowed out to hosts France in the last-eight.
Taddei declined to divulge the exact numbers, but said that “thousands and thousands and thousands” of shirts have been sold.
He continued: “What is surprising is that the demand is not going down. We are still receiving orders constantly from all over Europe daily.”
Scotland has been a particular “hot-spot” for sales given the rivalry with England (coupled with Scotland’s failure to qualify for Euro 2016), while other countries where sales have been strong include Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, along with Denmark, Finland and Norway, the trio of Nordic nations that failed to qualify for the tournament.
The unexpected merchandise boon will provide a “nice plus” for Errea’s end-of-year financial results, according to Taddei.
Asked if the tournament had exceeded his expectations commercially, he replied: “When we saw the group stage [draw], we bet internally on Iceland passing the group stage. Obviously we were not expecting the qualification for the quarter-final. It has exceeded our expectations, it’s a wonderful story and we are more than over the moon.”
Taddei claimed that Errea did not feel much of a strain on manufacturing despite the surge in orders as the Italy-based firm does not outsource its manufacturing, and it was the warehouses that felt most of the pressure as staff had to work round the clock.
Sport Company, the official distributor of Iceland kit in its home market, admitted recently that it had been unable to meet the “enormous” demand for Iceland shirts following the country’s unexpected run to the quarter-finals.
Sport Company had initially estimated that the demand for Iceland jerseys would be around 30,000 (or triple the capacity of Iceland’s national stadium), but Thorvaldur Olafsson, the company’s general manager, admitted that his calculation had proved to be dramatically low.
Subside Sports and Football Nation, two of Errea’s UK-based distributors, have enjoyed an upsurge in orders in a market where replica kit sales are particularly strong.
On the work with the KSI, Taddei remarked: “It’s not something new [the partnership between Iceland and Errea]. It’s a relationship we have developed over 14 years, when nobody couldn’t care less about who Iceland was and the results on the pitch were not so exciting.”
Enzo Montrucchio, Errea’s director in France, told L'Equipe following Iceland’s first group-stage match that over 20,000 Iceland tops had been sold.
Asked whether a bigger rival sportswear firm had tried to “steal” the Iceland contract, he replied: “No. The Icelanders know our reactivity and know that we can design a strip for an event despite very short notice.”
Errea also has a kit deal in place with Rwanda, but Montrucchio revealed that many of the African teams that Errea provided the kit for in the past have often switched kit suppliers before the Africa Cup of Nations starts in order to secure more money.