Retail veteran Steve Davis to lead Fanatics’ international business

Retail veteran Steve Davis to lead Fanatics’ international business

US-based licensed sports merchandise company Fanatics has appointed experienced retail executive Steve Davis as the president of its international business.

Davis, whose career in retail and e-commerce spans more than two decades, joins Fanatics having most recently served as chief executive of fast-fashion retailer Rue La La.

In his new role, Davis will report directly to Fanatics' global chief executive Doug Mack and will be tasked with leading the expansion of the company’s international division.

Davis will work to build out Fanatics’ worldwide manufacturing and distribution infrastructure to support the company’s vertical merchandise model, which is designed to help clients get licensed products to market quickly and cost-effectively through a faster, more agile supply chain.

Speaking exclusively to SportsPro on Tuesday, Davis specifically identified China and Germany as markets for expansion in the next six months. He added that his ultimate target is to help Fanatics grow from a business with US$2 billion in annual sales, 90 per cent of which is currently generated in North America, to one with US$10 billion in annual sales, "approaching" half of which will come from outside of its domestic market.

“We’re at the very early stages of putting the building blocks [in place] to make that happen, and that’s what I’ll be focused on,” said Davis, who previously oversaw global operations for GSI Commerce, the e-commerce company from which Fanatics was spun off as part of GSI's sale to eBay in 2011.

Headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, Fanatics is already a household name in North America sport. The company operates more than 300 online and offline stores, running e-commerce operations for all of the region's major sports leagues as well as a host of other professional and collegiate properties.

Fanatics’ international business provides online, retail and on-site merchandising solutions to properties across multiple sports. Last year, the company acquired UK-based online retailer Kitbag, which runs retail operations for several top European soccer clubs, including Manchester United, Real Madrid, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.

Davis’ appointment follows Fanatics’ recent closing of a US$1 billion investment from SoftBank, whose US$100 billion ‘Vision Fund’ is focused on disruptive companies across a range of industries.

A Fanatics statement said SoftBank’s ‘deep ties throughout Asia-Pacific’ will help grow the company’s footprint in the region, where it currently operates an office in Tokyo.

“Steve brings a broad range of commerce and brand-building expertise to Fanatics with a deep understanding of the global retail landscape,” Mack said in a statement.

“His leadership will significantly advance our global footprint and expand the multichannel, merchandising and manufacturing capabilities that we provide to all our partners worldwide."