Wimbledon more a brand in India, China than Britain

June 23rd, 2008 - 3:24 pm ICT by IANS  

London, June 23 (IANS) Wimbledon the tournament is British, but Wimbledon the brand has an Asian face. The sport’s organisers are beginning to realise that young people in India, China and Japan hold the cash key to the event. Much of the revenue of the All-England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, which runs the tournament, comes from television rights and bulk suppliers. However, the organisers are eager to widen Wimbledon’s commercial appeal in Asia, which has emerged the main market for brand expansion and merchandising income.

The Wimbledon tournament, being held June 23 to July 6 this year, is broadcast in over 150 countries to a global audience of more than two billion. The sheer global reach of the event has prompted the organisers to merchandise the brand in India, China and Japan, The Guardian reported Monday.

In India, firms licensed to make Wimbledon-branded merchandise include high-end jewellers Gitanjali.

Earlier this month, a partnership was announced with India’s TVS Motors to produce scooters - the green, purple and white Wimbledon Class and the Wimbledon Xtreme, “an exciting red scooter with graffiti art capturing the excitement of tennis”.

Wimbledon merchandising began six year ago in China, which now has 34 shops in 14 cities, including two outlets in Beijing.

In Japan, the club hosts regular “Wimbledon fairs”, exhibiting tournament merchandise. Last year, 350,000 pairs of branded Wimbledon sports shoes were sold in Japan, compared to “low four figures” through the All-England club’s retail outlets in Britain.

No one says how much the championships cost to host, but the total prize money itself is 11.8 million pounds ($24 million). A Centre Court ticket for the men’s final costs 91 pounds, but income from the global TV audiences dwarf that from ticket sales.

Under a 1934 agreement, the club’s profit go to the Lawn Tennis Association, guaranteeing the club the right to host the tournament. In 1980, the amount was 420,000 pounds. In 2007, it was 26.3 million pounds, showing how much global merchandising of the Wimbledon brand had added to the income.

Roger McCowen, marketing director at the All-England club, said: “Merchandising is very small in the context of the income from our TV rights and our big official suppliers, but the difference is in the geographical reach, the 52-week awareness, the brand extension.”

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