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Gloucestershire Business News

EXCLUSIVE: sports store says it's game over on fake merch

As England warm up for the start of the Euros 2024 this weekend, Nike accountants might be forgiven for a financial distraction to the brand's marketing plans.

By the estimates of one national newspaper, they have now lost more than £2m while one betting website reports the sales seepage could come to £6.5m as fans seeking to show support ahead of this weekend's opener in Serbia flock to cut-price counterfeit merch.

Amid the rise of Chinese counterfeit ecommerce, football fans scrolled with dismay when the official England Euro 2024 shirt was released in March - at a base price of £84.99.

But with one China-based website alone selling 26,000 shirts already, the Mirror reports that options sell for low as £10 for a shirts purporting to be the real deal.

That official £85 tag represented a hefty £20 increase on the price for a shirt at the last Euros, but the option of a genuine Dri-fit player version costs substantially more at £124.99. For children, the prices for both home and away shirts are £64.99, with the player version priced at £119.99.

While it is not illegal to buy a fake product via your smartphone, Trading Standards warn that the payment might well go into the hands of organised crime, with no regulation over production standards and labour conditions.

But the owner of a sportwear business in Stroud which has been running since 1893 told that he feared attempts to stem the flow of protecting orginal copyright on merchandise were already a lost cause.

Andy Bateman, the fifth generation of the family behind Batemans Sports Ltd, on Kendrick Street, said: "We see the comic prospect now of fans visiting Germany are facing checks to see if their shirts are real, but the battle is already lost. The official prices were just too high and from my perspective, running a sports business on the high street, we have seen a broader decline in football shirts to the tune of maybe 70% in the last few years – so much so, we don't bother stocking it. In past tournaments, I might sell 200 shirts. Now it is about 20."

In the broader context of high street retailing, Mr Bateman said that the enduring success of his business had come down to being adaptable to such changes.

He added: "We are effectively a hyperlocal business now, trading as a destination shop and relying also on core business in school uniforms. For clubs, we do a full service of embroidery and design and its that level of focus that ensures we still deliver value."

Looking more broadly at sports business though, he said that the emerging market was all about one fast-growing sport: padel.

"It's wonderful to see how Gloucester is embracing this new sport, which given the rapidly growing appeal, will most probably be an Olympic sport by 2032."

Batemans sell a padel racket from Dunlop at £65.

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