Euro 2012 – Ukraine and Poland

August 6, 2007

Sports retail consultant drives towards Euro 2012 camp

Filed under: Money — Ivan @ 12:36 am

Gerry Carey, the former retail operations director at Glasgow Rangers, and ex-chief executive of Partick Thistle, has launched a unique brand consultancy aimed at helping European football clubs realise their commercial potential.

Carey, who was sacked by Partick Thistle in March after the club plunged into financial crisis, has already signed a deal with Shakhtar Donetsk, the Ukrainian football champion, to develop the commercial operation for its new five-star UEFA-compliant stadium due to open in 2008.

Carey’s company, Sports Retail Management (SRM), is also talking to, “a number of English Premiership and first division clubs”, and is in advanced discussions with several other clubs in Eastern Europe. It is also in the process of setting up a meeting with the organisers of Euro 2012, with a view to securing the contract to advise on commercial potential surrounding the competition in Poland and Ukraine. The two were awarded joint host status in April.

SRM has also won a contract to provide the commercial framework for a new business education tool being developed jointly by the Scottish Qualifications Authority and Microsoft.

The online educational game is being integrated into the Scottish schools curriculum. The game concept provides students with the challenge of running a virtual sports retail business based on a football club store.

Carey said the idea came to him while at Rangers, where he was involved in building retail turnover from £3m per annum to more than £20m, returning a profit of £7.2m per annum.

He said: “We took the bold step of sourcing and manufacturing our own replica kit, allowing the club full control over design, price and distribution.

“Rangers’ retail department was recognised throughout the industry as innovative and leading edge when it came to maximising retail revenue. We had clubs throughout Europe seeking our advice. Even representatives from the J League (Japan’s football league) paid a special visit.”

When Rangers sold its retail division to JJB Sports for £48m, Carey moved briefly to Thistle, where the vagaries of football again caught up. That gave him the impetus to launch SRM and win the Ukraine deal.

Carey said: “We have worked with Shakhtar’s commercial team on best practice for revenue generating areas within the stadium, retail strategy and operations, merchandise, replica kit and licensing.

“Our strategy includes them building a health and fitness centre, a museum and a whole corporate hospitality facility. This is a 50,000 seater stadium they are building and at the moment they are only getting gates of 20,000. Our aim is to help fill those empty seats.”

The Carey treatment involves a commercial health check of the business, fully documented and detailing measures to start generating revenue. The company also offers a management service to set up and run a retail operation, and manage the brand.

The model for current football sponsorship deals is for the club to license its merchandising through a big sports manufacturer, like Manchester United’s deal with Nike.

However, Carey said: “A lot of clubs we’ve spoken to initially said: We think your ideas are great, but we are okay with what we have’. Well, they’re not. They have no control over their offering. Or how, or where, it’s sold. That is all signed away, and that means they are falling short of their full commercial potential.”

One of his former employers agrees SRM has potential. Martin Bain, Rangers’ chief executive, said: “Gerry can be credited with taking Rangers Retail to the fans by developing our brand in the European football marketplace. He brought diversity and challenged the club to maximise retail sales and profits.

“At its peak, Rangers Retail produced £20m turnover for the club with 22 stores, online sales, mail order, licensing and a thriving wholesale business.

“Gerry is highly respected throughout our organisation and beyond, and we are proud to have had his expertise within our senior management team at Rangers. I have no doubt many top clubs and professional sporting organisations will benefit from his expertise, drive and enthusiasm.”

theherald.co.uk/business

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