The magic number: why Avery Dennison’s Barcelona deal could be a game changer

SportsPro spoke to Nikita Jayasuriya, Avery Dennison’s global head of team sport, about the firm's tie-up with FC Barcelona, sustainability and its plans in sport.

The magic number: why Avery Dennison’s Barcelona deal could be a game changer

Manufacturing firm Avery Dennison’s new deal with Spanish soccer giants FC Barcelona sees it emerge out from behind its usual partners in major sportswear and into direct partnership.

The deal serves as a flagship not only for Avery’s name and numbers shirt customisation product but also its sustainable approach to production. The American company claims it will nearly half polyester waste with its processing efficiencies and end-to-end solution approach.

Avery Dennison already supplies its services to a number of other La Liga clubs, while it also supplies products for 90 per cent of the teams in English soccer’s Premier League.

SportsPro spoke to Nikita Jayasuriya, Avery’s global head of team sport, about the new deal.

How important is it for Avery Dennison to sign up a marquee partner like Barcelona?

For us it is very important to sign what is arguably the biggest, and one of the most well-known clubs in the world. Barcelona’s commitment to Avery Dennison (AD) lends real credibility to the branding and external embellishment solutions we deliver to the market. We have a massive presence in team sport, but are unable to talk about it because many of our developments sit with global brands like Nike, Adidas, Puma, New Balance, Macron, JOMA, Under Armour, etc. With Barcelona we are a direct partner of the club. We cemented the global deal due to the fact they were happy with the service Avery Dennison provided in a prior arrangement for the Iberia market.

What kind of special requirement does a big global sports club ask for from their suppliers? 

It starts with service, across the organisation and the supply-chain. Outstanding service, whether it be speed in delivering to the club or customer, drives the relationships. Honesty is also critical; being transparent in everything we do from sustainability to production. Flexibility - being able to move fast either changing to the market needs, or leading with new branding and product innovations. Finally, quality - excellence in this area is something that we pride ourselves on at AD and always look to ensure for our partners..

Can you expand on the benefits of RFID technology to a deal such as this?

The radio frequency identification (RFID) technology we use to package and track our embellishments is a game changer in the sports supply industry and can really help increase retailers’ revenue. The time from which products are supplied from our factories to a store for purchase is also reduced dramatically as well as the visibility of when the product will arrive, so fans can have the number of a new player on their shirt or jersey within hours of a new player signing. Performance is accelerated through RFID enabled inventory, loss prevention solutions, consumer engagement, price management, printer and labeller products, global compliance, intelligent labels and brand security solutions.

How is Avery Dennison ensuring sustainability in production?

Avery Dennison has set some aggressive sustainability goals which include the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in all of our facilities. Our GHG reduction goal is based in science and we have partnered with WWF Climate Savers to ensure we meet or exceed those goals. We are producing less waste from laser cutting and automation by batching more items onto the carrier, and therefore reducing the wastage of polyester.

Another example of this is that we ship less polyester to the consumer. This leads to more of the wasted polyester ending up in our bins and we ensure good recycling. Less waste therefore lands at the hands of others and it is less of a global environmental impact if that recycling process is poorer than ours. Studies on Barcelona’s product production have shown up to 47 per cent reduction of polyester waste.

Has Barcelona taking their merchandising operation back from Nike been a game changer? Is there potential for an expanded role with the club in the future?

Right now we are experiencing smooth transition from Nike to the club. We still will be working closely with the Nike team on product design and quality. Any other changes would be defined after some time.

You clearly have deep ties to soccer, what other areas in sport is Avery Dennison looking towards?

We already have a big footprint in the National Football League (NFL), National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). However, our relationship sits with the brands developing the apparel and fan-wear for these leagues, not directly with the teams and leagues.  

We have a plan moving forward to bridge these relationships across North America as well as driving similar relationships with clubs and leagues in major sports in other global markets. The Indian Premier League (IPL) seems like a really interesting prospect for us as well.