On Monday I was given the opportunity to speak to co-founder of the club’s new Kit and retail sponsor Tom Beahon of Castore. Rangers have of course signed a new five year contract for Castore to make and distribute all of the clubs merchandise starting season 2020-21. A fantastic deal for the club rumoured to be worth as much as £25 million, I spoke to Tom and asked him the finer details of the deal. Below is the conversation I had with Tom
TOM, FIRSTLY, WELCOME TO THE RANGERS FAMILY
Thank you Steven
YOU’VE BEEN VERY ENGAGING WITH THE SUPPORT. CAN YOU TELL ME A BIT ABOUT YOUR PLANS FOR FAN ENGAGEMENT GOING FORWARD
The simple answer to that, Steven, is the fans – the size of the Rangers fan base, the passion within the fan base and the loyalty within the fan base – I don’t think many club’s fans have been on the journey that Rangers’ fans have in recent history. So, for us, this an absolute key rationale for us wanting to partner with Rangers, as well as obviously the phenomenal worldwide recognition of the Rangers Football Club brand and the history of winning trophies and potential to win trophies again. But it is the fan base that really underpinned everything that we wanted to do with the club. For me, I am looking at this as Castore is different from other sportswear brands, we are clearly not as big yet as Nike, Adidas, Puma, etc, so in order to stand out from those guys we are not going to go head-to-head with them at this stage and win. We have to be more creative, more intelligent, more innovative, and, quite frankly, work harder. Where you apply that philosophy to these football club partnerships, fans are an incredibly important part of the partnership being a success. Going forward, my intention, as the co-founder of Castore, is to be well-engaged with the fan base. Whether that means practically it could be calls like this on a monthly basis, I don’t know. Whether it is meetings up in Glasgow on a monthly or bi-monthly basis, that remains to be seen. But the intention very much is that I want to have an open dialogue so that you guys have access to me as the co-founder and there is someone personally standing behind all of the commitments that we are making at the moment. Let’s be honest, we have already made a significant financial investment in the football club and we will be deepening that financial interest in the coming months. It is absolutely in my interests to make sure that we are doing everything we possibly can to make this partnership a success. Fundamentally, talk is cheap and I can say a lot of stuff. It is only when we launch the kit and we do that successfully and then expand the product range that Rangers fans can buy, we look at getting the refurbishment of the Ibrox store done as soon as we possibly can, we look at options for other stores – whether that is in Glasgow airport, Belfast, etc, and they are things we are looking to do – that will be when, once we have actioned those and brought them to life, that you guys are really going to respect us and say ‘fair play, those lads stayed true to their word’. There is no better way to do that than being held accountably directly. I am well aware that expectations are very high within the fan base. Equally, as I said on Friday, I have very high expectations of myself and my business so we are not going to shy away from those expectations. We are relishing it, we are relishing the challenge and we can’t wait to get started. That was a long answer, but the short answer is that I want to have this dialogue. I know it won’t always be perfect because to achieve the things we want to achieve with this football club and to take it back to where it was in the 90s – where more Rangers jerseys were sold than any other football club in the UK – is going to take a concerted effort, to take a long-term investment, not only from Castore but from the club itself and, of course, that variable of success on the pitch. If we get those three elements right and they come together at the right time, that is my ambition, that should be all of our ambition – to get this club back to where it was and selling more than any other club in the UK. I am a competitive guy, I like having that challenge and that is the perfect challenge to set for ourselves. To be engaged directly with the fans is going to be a key part of that as far as I am concerned.
YOU SAID THAT RANGERS WOULD BE THE CENTRE OF YOUR UNIVERSE IN TERMS OF FOOTBALL. CAN YOU EXPLAIN A BIT MORE ABOUT WHAT THAT MEANS AND HOW YOU INTEND TO DRIVE THIS?
There are a couple of things there and the background to all of this is when we, as a business, made the decision to enter the football market, we made a couple of decisions in line with that. One was that we had no desire to work with a lower level team and the work our way up, we wanted to start right at the top. Castore is a premium brand, a very ambitious brand, and we want to challenge Nike, Adidas, Puma at the very top of the market. The only way to do that is by partnering with world class athletes and world class teams that play on a global stage and that will be wearing Castore on a global stage. Rangers clearly, absolutely perfectly, fits into that model. What has been really interesting as we have met clubs over the last 12 months, truthfully, is just how badly many clubs get treated by the big brands. Unless you are Barcelona or Real Madrid, Nike and Adidas don’t really care about the football club and that, for us, offers a big opportunity. A couple of things that means in reality and practical terms. Firstly, the service that we provide a club. We have people in my business that will do nothing other than servicing Rangers Football Club. In terms of the product the players are getting, not just the first team but the Academy and Women’s team, there is someone whose job it is to make sure that Rangers have exactly what they need, when they need it and getting that feedback from the kit man, the players, the staff, to know how we can make things better, how we can improve. Having that service level is really important. Marketing and advertising, for me, is probably the biggest opportunity out of everything if I am being honest. Without banging the drum too much or telling you guys things you already know, Rangers is one of the very few clubs that has a global brand recognition. If we look at what has been done for the football club in recent history to promote its brand, raise its brand and profile in places like Australia, Scandinavia, North America, the fact of the matter is that it is not very much. In order to do that, it will take consistent investment over a long period of time. We are going to be implementing a programme that you guys will see come to life, not just over next season but coming seasons, that combines digital marketing, a lot of content creation, a lot of creative advertising that will be pushed through digital platforms, E-Commerce to really help drive and engage with the those fan bases all over the world. But also physical campaigns, stuff like billboards in Glasgow City Centre, store events – there will be a big event when we reopen the Ibrox store – and other store openings to physically elevate the Rangers brand. There are many reasons why I was attracted to this partnership, but just the sheer strength of the Rangers Football Club brand, the history that is attached to it, but also the future potential that comes with this football club is what makes me so excited about this partnership. There is no point in having that potential if you don’t shout about it. We have a team internally within Castore that will do nothing but focus on Rangers to make sure you guys get the product that the team need but also the advertising and marketing to grow the Rangers brand, that is key to the success of this partnership as far as I am concerned
THE MEGASTORE REDEVELOPMENT IS REALLY EXCITING FOR US. WHAT CAN YOU TELL ABOUT YOUR PLANS AND WHEN CAN WE EXPECT THAT TO BE READY FOR THE SUPPORT?
There are two parts to the answer to that question, Steven. Firstly in regards to what we are going to do with the store itself, the object is to bring it very much in line with other major European stadiums. I was in Milan before the lockdown and went to the San Siro to see what AC Milan have got there, I have been to the Real Madrid store to see what they have got there and have been to Man Utd and Liverpool more locally and that is the level that we have set for ourselves in terms of the décor, the layout, the product offering. The breadth of product that Rangers fans have had access to historically, and I say this with all respect, has been abysmal. So that is a very easy win for us to improve and sell not just replica jerseys and team product, and hopefully sell that really well and a really high quality product, but more than that in terms of lifestyle garments, off-pitch wear – whether it is bedding or curtains – there is a team that is working on all of that at the moment. It is accessories, alarm clocks, I know the club has got some plans around whisky and some other things that are going to be limited edition. There is a huge scope of opportunity there and this store is going to be a home for all of that. I don’t want to get too misty-eyed and sound like I am talking shit here, but this needs to be a store that the fans are proud of. This is one of the most prestigious clubs in the world. You used the word there – heartbreak – and it is, for me as an outside, sad that the fans don’t have somewhere to call their own. My job, and the job of Castore, is to spend that £250k as efficiently as we possibly can to make this a modern era store that is fit for purpose for many years to come in the future and a place that fans can call their home. The second part to that is that the season after next is the 150th anniversary of the club and I know the club have got some very exciting plans that hopefully we are going to play a fundamental part in for Edmiston House and what can be done there and how we tie that into the Ibrox Megastore is going to be interesting. We need to make sure that the layout, the décor, the feel in each of those stores is consistent, high quality. The timing of the reopening, to be honest, is to be confirmed. Our hope and expectation and objective is to open that store in advance of the new season and that is what we are working towards. However, as we sit here today we cannot do everything we would like to in that store given the world that are living in. Might it be slightly later? The truth is yes, it might be. But my objective is to get that store open as soon as possible because I see that as a fundamental example of this partnership and this new era that the club are entering and it is imperative that we get that store open as soon as we can. We will do a big launch event and it will show the fans that I am not just saying some nice words, but that I mean what I say and that I will back it up with action. There is no better example of that – other than the kit launch itself – than that store reopening and we will do it as soon as we possibly can.
HAVE YOU HAD ANY THOUGHTS OF RELEASING A KIT FOR THE SUPPORT THAT DOESN’T HAVE 32RED?
It is a really good question and the simple answer is that it is something we are looking at. I would by lying if I said ‘we are definitely going to do that and we will be releasing it straight away’. Clearly there are commercial considerations that need to be taken into account and 32Red are a partner of Rangers so it is certainly not my place to impede on or overstep that partnership in any way. However, there are opportunities for us to be creative here and do things differently to how they have been done in the past. I have said it before and I will be consistent on this. Castore is not entering this partnership to make up the numbers, we are making this move – and it is a big, big move for my business – to do things differently, to be creative. What you just described there – a kit with a logo that isn’t 32Red on – is a perfect example of that. We are going to have a lot of chances to discuss the 150th anniversary in the coming months, but that for me feels like the perfect opportunity to do a retro kit not plastered with logos. I have a brand, it is important for me to have brand awareness and I get that every Saturday afternoon at Ibrox Stadium. Can we do one kit that doesn’t have any logos on? It is a very interesting opportunity. It is interesting that you mention it, it is something we have already discussed and we will be pushing hard for in the coming months.
HAVE YOU BEEN INSPIRED BY ANY OF OUR PREVIOUS KITS IN TERMS OF WHAT YOU ARE PREPARING TO RELEASE? CAN YOU GIVE US ANY INSIGHT INTO WHAT YOU HAVE PLANNED?
The first part of the answer is yes, we are very much looking at kits of the past and I remember growing up watching the likes of Colin Hendry, Barry Ferguson lifting titles in what turned into historic, famous, Rangers shirts. For us, one of the many attractions of this partnership is the history of the football club and when you have had a phenomenally successful history it would be stupid and remiss of us not to tap into that when we are looking for inspiration for the new kit. Equally, we are also going to be very forward looking. Castore is a modern brand, a brand that prides ourselves on having innovative technology and performance features within our garments. For us, it is very much a case of finding that perfect fusion of the history and the old as well as the modern and the forward looking. We have been inspired by the traditional kits but we will be using our own creativity and our own take on that in a modern way and we are really excited to release that to the fans and we are confident they are going to love it. In terms of orange, it is clearly a colour for the core fan base that is very important and I have had a number of conversations with people throughout Rangers and a consistent theme is the importance of this. Again, it would be remiss of us as a new partner whose number one objective is to make the fans proud not to include that. We want to be creative and intelligent in how we do it, but we think you guys are going to like what we have come up with on the orange front.
IS THAT A HINT TO THE THIRD KIT?
That could be a slight hint to your third kit, Stevie!
DO YOU HAVE ANY PLANS TO SPONSOR THE TRAINING GROUND LIKE HUMMEL DID PREVIOUSLY? AND DO YOU HAVE PLANS TO GET INVOLVED IN A FAN ZONE?
The training ground, I will be very open and transparent on that one. When we were progressing our discussions and negotiations with the club over the last few months, it wasn’t a number one priority. The priorities for me were structuring a deal where Rangers and Castore’s interest are 100 per cent aligned, where the football club benefits directly from every single product that Castore will sell in the coming years. That is just common sense in any partnership, but particularly with the history and what you guys have been through in recent years that is so important. The priority for me was structuring that deal and there is no way that Castore will be successful in this deal unless Rangers are financially successful, so the interests are perfectly aligned and that gives us the foundation to work successfully together in the coming years. The second priority was launching the kit itself – the players’ kit, the replica kit that the fans can buy and hopefully they can start the new era by supporting the football club again with an exciting new jersey. The priority after that is launching the Ibrox store with the big investment and the final priority is expanding the range with the lifestyle pieces and hardware that we have discussed earlier. The training ground was discussed but it wasn’t included in my list of the key deliverables that I need to get right in the first stage of this partnership. Would we like to have that discussion at some stage in the future? We may well do. But the training ground, for me, is a nice to have rather than a need to have. There are other things I need to get right in terms of the kit and the retail store. We want to get those fundamental bits nailed before we look at the other bits. The fan zone is slightly different and is something we want to do and get implemented as quickly as possible. Again, we all know that the world is a funny place at the moment and we hope that fans are allowed back into Ibrox as soon as possible. I hope there is a fan zone set up in time for that and again, like with the store, even if it is not straight away it will be shortly after the return of fans to Ibrox.
WE HAVE SEEN THE FIGURE OF £25MILLION SUGGESTED OVER THE FIVE YEARS. IS THAT REALISITIC FOR RANGERS TO ACHIEVE AND IS THERE IS AN INCENTIVE BASE THERE WHERE WE COULD ACHIEVE MORE?
In all of these deals, there are tiers. There is an element that is paid to the club up front, that is paid right on day one, which in this deal is about £3million. That amount has been paid already to the football club. Then, beyond that, we structure effectively profit shelves and revenue share where the club benefits materially from every single product that we sell. What we have done in the deal is put in tiers. I don’t want to get too boring. But the objective is that the more kit that Rangers sell, the more product that Rangers set, the more that Rangers earn back from that. They have the perfect incentive to work with Castore to release the kit without the 32Red logo on, the limited edition jersey, the mugs, the whisky, Rangers have a direct incentive. They will earn more then more we sell. We have set tiers which are ambitions and challenging for both ourselves as a partner and Rangers themselves because it needs to be a true partnership. In answer to the question ‘is £5million-a-year achievable?’ The short answer to that is absolutely yes. It is very achievable. I am very conscious as we enter this partnership, on day one of the partnership, of not raising expectations unduly because it is going to take effort, it is going to take consistent investment, not just from me and Castore but from the club, and as always we need the team to be successful on the pitch, which is that magic X Factor. But my goal, I am a competitive guy by nature, as is my brother, we have set ourselves the challenge. Why not get the club back to where it was in the 90s? We have got a clean slate from which to work from, we have got a phenomenal fan base, a phenomenal brand in Rangers Football Club and a club, on the pitch, that is certainly heading in the right direction and absolutely has the desire at every level of the club to challenging for trophies. If we get that mix right, and nothing is ever guaranteed in this world, we want to be taking it back to the level where the club is earning £7million, £8million, £9million plus, which is what it was in the 90s. For me, what a challenge, what an opportunity and we can’t wait to get started.
THE £3MILLION IS THE MINIMUM THE CLUB COULD EARN, WITH THE ABILITY TO GO TO THE FIGURES YOU MENTIONED THERE?
Correct. That is a base, the rights fee that we pay to be the partner for Rangers and everything else is upside. I don’t want to get too boring and into the detail, but one thing that was very important to me – and these aren’t empty words when I talk about collaboration, partnerships and aligned interests. What the big brands do in these partnerships is say ‘I’ll right you a big cheque up front, but I need the football club to give what is called a minimum guarantee’. That means that the football club commit to buying from Nike, Adidas, Puma, a certain amount of product back from them. So you are going to buy a minimum of £2.5million worth of product back from me. Although I am giving you that money, I know I am going to get three quarters of it back straight away. We didn’t want to do that this way, because I am confident and I am willing to put my money where my mouth, is that if we get the product offering right and get the retail right and get the marketing right, that we can sell a lot more than me saying we will underwrite our risk and get £2.5million back from the club. I want to buy into the upside because we believe in this football club. We didn’t make any commitment from Rangers to buy stuff from Castore. This is a shared enterprise and we will be successful if the club is successful. That, for me, is very exciting.
TOM, THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME AND LOOK FORWARD TO SPEAKING TO YOU IN THE FUTURE
Thank you Stevie
A great insight into the deal and exactly what the capabilities are in terms of finance, training ground and megastore. The news that Rangers have received £3m already and will receive that every year no matter what, is absolutely huge news. To add to the fact that the club do not have to commit to a certain amount of purchases in that, is another great point in the deal for the club. That means the possibilities are endless in terms of how much we can earn. If the Elite deal was set to earn Rangers £3m in one year we have already secured that, these terms mean we can make the club huge money through sales and earn the club the £5-9 million a year Tom discusses above. This is the owner of the company confirming that, this isn’t conjecture.
Another plus being obviously the kits and the insight into the possibility of an orange third kit. Obviously hugely popular the designs are exciting for the support and well worth the wait. From comments made we can expect to see these within the next four to six weeks and be able to pre-order for MyGers members shortly.
All in all a fantastic insight into the deal with Castore. Fanzone, megastore, training facility, Orange third kit – all information straight from the owner of the company, a better source we will not get.
You will be able to hear this whole interview in FULL from 9am on Thursday morning as I talk to Tom, this will be live on our Gersnet platform and will be this weeks podcast offering from myself on 4lads. With Arveladze and Amoruso podcasts recently released please check them out and subscribe. The RSS feed for it all is here – https://www.gersnet.co.uk/index.php/news-category/gersnet-podcast-rss-feed. You can find the podcast on any music platform by simply searching Gersnet.
We now have the absolute facts behind the Castore deal, the finances, the possibility of strips, the possibility of a Castore Fanzone, all information exclusively here to fourladshadadream blog. Recent news from club1872 regarding news papers coverage is disturbing and you can see it here https://club1872.co.uk/news/club-1872-wins-ipso-complaint-against-daily-record-and-sunday-mail/. You will get the truth and facts from this blog, you will get it from all fan media. Heart and Hand, Follow Follow, Gersnet, WWTC podcast, CJ Novo and new sites like thisisIbrox and Battlefeverpodcast. We all have one thing in common, Rangers and our love for the club.
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