Fanatics sees parts of its business fall 100% with sports on hold due to coronavirus

Fanatics, the privately-held sports apparel unicorn valued at $4.5 billion, is the official retailer of licensed merchandise for all the major U.S. sports leagues, including the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, MLS, and PGA Tour.

But there are no sports right now, as all the major leagues have put their seasons on hold due to coronavirus. “That’s a pretty bad ingredient for near-term business,” says Fanatics executive chairman Michael Rubin, who is also a co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers.

Fanatics operates around 50 merchandise stands at different stadiums, and has a wholesale business that supplies product to brick-and mortar retail stores. That segment makes up a third of Fanatics’ business, and that segment is down 100%, since stadiums are closed and stores are closed.

Online sales, which typically represent two thirds of Fanatics’ business (it’s mostly an e-commerce company, which is why it’s seen as a tech unicorn), are down 30%

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Under Armour, Fanatics and other sports retailers are making coronavirus masks

Now that the U.S. has more coronavirus cases than any other country with over 100,000, American manufacturers are rapidly pivoting to help address the urgent shortage of protective medical gear.

Fanatics, the maker of official licensed apparel for all the major sports leagues, has converted its Easton, Pennsylvania factory, where it makes official MLB jerseys, into a hub for making medical masks and gowns for hospital workers.

And it’s making the masks and gowns out of MLB jersey material, beginning with Phillies jerseys.

Fanatics Chairman Michael Rubin (also a co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers) credited Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and Attorney General Josh Shapiro with calling Fanatics to kickstart the plan.

The masks are from mesh fabric and are not as protective as N95 respirators, but this week the Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine said at a press conference that such DIY masks are “better than nothing.”


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