Friday, November 11, 2011

Hibs Join The Football Nation

It's been another bad week for Hibs.

So I'm happy to share some good news.

Seven years ago Hibs awarded their exclusive merchandise rights to themselves.

That meant the club shop at Easter Road was the only place fans could buy official club merchandise.

This had its benefits. It also, it seemed to me, reduced Hibs' visibility in Edinburgh and meant supporters had to travel to Easter Road to buy their replica shirts and the sundry other bits and pieces that make up a modern football retail operation.

Falling attendances have meant a reduction in the size of the captive market that this ploy banked on.

It was no real surprise that this week's AGM saw the club admit that retail revenues had fallen.

Kudos then to the board and their marketing and commercial staff for realising that action had to be taken.

And hearty applause for the news that Hibs shirts and other merchandise will now be available at the excellent Football Nation shop on Lothian Road. A far easier Saturday shopping trip detour than Easter Road for those fans who might be voting with their feet but still want to be green clad or have green clad children.

Football Nation's Steven Dow said:

"Edinburgh is a busy and vibrant city and it is essential for all brands to have an opportunity to present its retail offer to as many consumers as possible.

"Over the last five years Football Nation has established itself as one of the UK’s leading retailers of football merchandise and the addition of every new brand is great news for us.

"What is most welcome is that this is one of our local teams who can now be presented to the very valuable tourist market in Edinburgh."

Steven tells me that already tourists have been stopping by and picking up Hibs shirts.

I've had this conversation with Steven before and he's told me of tourists hoping to pick up a local replica shirt - Hearts also operate a policy of exclusivity - who end up leaving the shop with EPL shirts.

I couldn't comment on the size of this potential market but it's always struck me as odd that Hibs would actively deny people a convenient opportunity to buy their merchandise.

Russell Smith, corporate and commercial manager at Hibs, continued:

"We are really pleased to have agreed this retail partnership with Football Nation because it enables our fans to purchase our kit from an outlet in the centre of Edinburgh.

"It also enables us to engage positively with potential new customers; via the city’s huge tourist industry.

"We are an Edinburgh team and we wanted to increase our visibility within the city and also to make it easier for our supporters, who are not based near Easter Road to buy replica kit and Hibernian merchandise."

Common sense has prevailed.

And the choice of Football Nation seems ideal, offering not a faceless chain of dullard sports shops but a dedicated football store run by what John Hughes would call "football people."

Right, that's one step in the right direction.

About this new manager...

Take a look at Football Nation

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