An impressive cast of European sports industry executives is launching Pelé Sports, a football brand inspired and supported by the Brazilian football hero. Introduced on a dirt pitch in Johannesburg earlier this month, the brand will be delivered to European specialist stores on a small scale next month. A full range is to be introduced at the start of next year, through five subsidiaries and several European distributors. The company is targeting sales to about 1,000 specialist retailers around Europe by 2014.
Established in Zug, Switzerland, the venture is headed by Gunther Siebrecht, who spent many years in the industry with Adidas and Nike. When he left Nike in 2004 he was sales director for Nike Germany. The second managing director is Holger Denicke, an expert in consumer goods.
The Pelé Sports brand’s offering consists of three ranges of footwear and apparel, with different price points. At the higher end is the performance range, intended for football played on a standard-sized pitch with 11 players on each team. The second range is Pelada, which is meant for small-sided games, such as those played by Pelé for many years in Brazil, often on dirt pitches, before he emerged as an international player. The last range is Pelé Story, a more lifestyle-oriented range inspired by football.
The European sales director is Clemens Weigand, another former Nike employee who later headed sales of Columbia Sportswear in German-speaking countries. While supervising European sales for Pelé Sports, Weigand is also the brand’s country manager for Germany.
Pelé Sports has another subsidiary in Switzerland, headed by Didier Körössy, who was the Swiss distributor for Reebok in the country until Adidas acquired the brand. The third European subsidiary is in the U.K., under the leadership of Steve Marsters, former sponsorship director at JJB Sports, the second-largest sports retailer in the country. Pelé Sports has two more offices for the Australian and U.S. markets.
Furthermore, Pelé Sports has teamed up with Roy Beumer, who previously handled Lotto in the Benelux countries, to sell the new brand in the same region. A Norwegian company currently selling MBT shoes has been appointed to cover Norway, Sweden, Finland and the three Baltic countries. Roger Johansen has been hired by the company to take care of the Pelé Sports business in this territory, supported by existing offices in all of these countries. For Denmark, Pelé Sports has a separate distributor, Mads Seeberg.
Not a very fortunate businessman, Pelé has worn several football brands over the years, including Pony and Stylo. However, he has been most widely associated with Puma, which long used Pelé’s name to sell the King, an emblematic football boot. Just a few years ago Pelé was still strutting on stage for fashion shows at Puma presentations and featuring in Puma commercials.
Last year the Brazilian celebrity signed a deal with Nomis, a football brand launched five years ago with a technology providing more grip in wet conditions. However, after a promising start and investments to deploy distribution around Europe, Nomis went into bankruptcy proceedings last November. This paved the way for the tie-up with the investors behind Pelé Sports, who obtained a global license for the name in football apparel, footwear and accessories.