NZRU opens first All Blacks store

More stores to follow as NZRU seeks to diversify profits.

New Zealand Rugby has entered the retail market with its first All Blacks store, and says more openings may follow as the body seeks to diversify its income streams.

The rugby union body today opened the Official All Blacks store at Auckland Airport, partnering with international store operator Lagardère Travel Retail.

NZR chief executive Steve Tew says the store is the first step in establishing official stores as “retail destinations for travellers and sports fans.”

“The All Blacks brand already has a strong presence overseas and we’re confident there’s enough demand in the market for the concept to grow both within New Zealand and globally,” he says in a statement.

“It’s no secret we need to diversify our income streams and we think a standalone presence in the retail sector is worth exploring.”

Lagardère Travel Retail group operates the world’s largest network of news and convenience outlets based in airports and train stations. It is unclear whether the group will be involved with NZR beyond the Auckland Airport store.

Before today’s opening, official All Blacks merchandise was only available through Adidas-owned channels, external retail outlets and via the online allblackshop.com.

Auckland Airport’s retail and commercial general manager, Richard Barker, says the airport will announce several new retail stores this year but did not name any companies.

NZR made an operating profit of $3.2 million in the 12 months ended December 31, citing success in its partnership with global insurer AIG. But it's been looking at alternative ways to eke out profits as the industry faces a financial squeeze from declines in attendance.

In 2011 NZR had an operating loss of $3.1m but returned to profitability in 2013 helped by the sale of Super franchises. 

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