By Barry Janoff
January 27, 2014: Claiming that "Arsenal have been a key strategic target for Puma for a number of years," the global sports apparel and footwear company signed what it called a "long-term partnership" with Arsenal Football, one of world's most iconic soccer clubs, to become the team's official kit partner.
The alliance takes effect July 1. Puma replaces Nike, which has been Arsenal's kit supplier since 1994.
Financial terms of the pact were not disclosed. Both Arsenal and Puma said it would be the biggest deal in the history of either party.
Industry analysts indicated that the deal was for five years, valued at more than $250 million — $49.4 million a year (U.S., £30 million).
Puma said that in addition to producing the playing and training kit for all Arsenal teams, it has acquired "wide-ranging licensing rights to develop other Arsenal branded merchandise on a global basis."
Other Arsenal FC marketing partners include Emirates Airline (which has naming rights to the club's home stadium), Gatorade, Carlsberg, Citroen, MBNA and Sterling Bank.
Arsenal, which plays in the Barclays English Premier League, was ranked as the No. 4 most valuable soccer club in the world in 2013 by Forbes, in excess of $1.3 billion, behind Real Madrid, Manchester United and Barcelona.
Puma and Arsenal said they would work together to "bring further innovation into the sports brand's performance apparel range" worldwide.
"We are excited to be partnering with Puma, a company whose football heritage and record of innovation have a strong affinity with our own."
"Arsenal have been a key strategic target for Puma for a number of years now," Bjoern Gulden, CEO for Puma, said in a statement: "Through a clear commercial vision, a well-defined sports marketing strategy and a relentless enthusiasm within the Puma organization, we're proud to have signed this partnership with a truly global football club."
Gulden said that Arsenal represents a "major commercial and marketing opportunity to reinforce Puma's credibility as a global sports brand, and we have full confidence the plans in place to activate this partnership will have a significant global impact."
According to Ivan Gazidis, CEO for Arsenal FC, "We are excited to be partnering with Puma, a company whose football heritage and record of innovation have a strong affinity with our own. This represents another important step forward in Arsenal's progression on and off the pitch."
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