9 Aug 2011

Adidas under fire over cost of All Black jersey

8:30 pm on 9 August 2011

Adidas is coming under increasing fire over its refusal to lower the price of Rugby World Cup jerseys in New Zealand.

The manufacturer and major sponsor of the All Blacks supplies retailers in New Zealand. It says it will not lower the recommended price of $NZ220 per jersey - even though they are available online internationally for much less.

New Zealand retailers are dropping their prices in order to compete, including Rebel Sport and All Blacks clothing store Champions of the World, who both say this will cost them financially.

However, Adidas is refusing to budge and in a statement on Tuesday evening said the retailers' decision is good for consumers.

Rebel Sport managing director Rod Duke criticised Adidas' attitude as unacceptable.

"This jersey belongs to the New Zealand rugby public. The NZRU are custodians on behalf of all of us, and Adidas for the time being, are sponsors of that jersey. They don't own it - we do."

Politicians have also expressed dismay at the price Adidas is charging.

Prime Minister John Key says he would like to believe New Zealand consumers will get a fair deal and not be taken advantage of just because of where they live.

Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully says he does not want to to tell Adidas how to run its business, but the company might want to reflect on the matter.

"One assumes that this year Adidas are looking to use their sponsorship to boost the value of their brand - and I think they need to reflect upon that and ask whether the pricing arrangements are contributing to brand building or detracting.

"I've got a very clear view myself - this is not doing them any good at all."

Mr McCully says the row won't be helping the Rugby World Cup, but he does not believe it will affect ticket sales.

Labour Party leader Phil Goff also believes Adidas has damaged its own brand, saying it is outrageous the company can claim to be supporting New Zealand rugby - when it is doing the opposite.

Retailers take financial hit

Rebel Sport and Champions of the World dropped their prices by 15%, or about $NZ50 per jersey.

Champions of the World estimates this will cost it $NZ200,000 over the next three months but says it had no choice. It says All Blacks gear will contribute up to 90% of sales during the period.

Rebel Sport says people who have already bought the jersey will be able to claim the difference. It says it will continue to work with Adidas despite the disagreement.

Adidas New Zealand manager David Huggett says moves by retailers to reduce the price of the jerseys demonstrates healthy competition in market.

Mr Huggett says it is ultimately up to retailers to set the market prices and Adidas continues to continues to receive significant re-orders for the jerseys from them.

The Rugby World Cup begins in Auckland on 9 September.