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Letter to Robert Elstone

By Nick Parker :  13/07/2009 :  Comments (25) :
13th July 2009

Dear Mr Elstone,

Firstly I must congratulate you on the two new mega stores and the Kitbag deal.

As a supporter I feel compelled to write to you so I can fully understand the business decisions made and processes followed in the recent change in kit supplier from Umbro to Le Coq Sportif and the subsequent new home kit design.

I applaud the moving from Umbro as they are a non-premium brand whose products are to be found in sports warehouses and discount stores up and down the land. In choosing Le Coq Sportif I believe this is a massive backward step in this respect as we are trying to expand our fan base globally and need a globally recognised brand to help move the club forward in terms of support and most importantly revenue.

Of the 28 teams which finished in the top 4 Champions League positions of there respective countries leagues (Italy, Germany, Spain, Portugal, France, England & Holland) in 2008/2009 21 are sponsored by either Nike, Adidas or Puma and non by Le Coq Sportif. This is not a co-incidence. Le Coq Sportif do not even sponsor their own national team, which even Umbro can boast.

I read on the official site that the new kit has broken all records for a kit launch but I suspect this has more to do with a general feel good factor around the team after another fifth place finish, an FA Cup final appearance and two new stores opening. This fits in with season tickets also selling more this season. There are also a large proportion of fans that will buy the kit whatever the design or brand.

How long is the contract with Le Coq Sportif to be our kit supplier?

What other brands were considered in the change of kit supplier and what made Le Coq Sportif the winner?

What process did the design of the kit take in terms of consultation with fans, players, marketing & brand experts and Everton FC?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely

Nick Parker

Reader Comments

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Charlie Dixon
1   Posted 13/07/2009 at 15:29:23

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No offence, Nick, but what a waste of time that is. I completely agree that they're not the greatest brand and it’s not the best looking kit, but I think (and hope) that our Cheif Executive will be too busy right now trying to sort out our squad for next year and sorting out the mess that is Kirkby, to answer.
Simon Dunne
2   Posted 13/07/2009 at 15:49:23

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I’d say he’ll change his mind.

The job done on kits etc in terms of distrubution etc has been fantastic.
Terry Maddock
3   Posted 13/07/2009 at 15:59:56

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So basically, Nick, your saying "Well done for a great job on the new store kit launch and sales etc... but I don't like the maker, so can you give me all the reasons behind the decisions you have made as Chief Exec."

Hmmmmm.. don't hold your breath for a reply... LOL

Steve Ferns
4   Posted 13/07/2009 at 16:01:36

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Nick, Puma were the worst kit manufacturer we’ve ever had. The kit was cheaply made and poorly designed. I have to admit I was a big fan of the Umbro kits of the mid 90s, especially the 95 cup winning shirt and the home kit that followed. I thought umbro were a competent manufacturer and my would grievance with them is over distribution which under the last deal was the responsibility of the ailing retailer JJB.

I’ll reserve my position on Le Coq, but it looks good so far and kitbag appear to have followed up on their promises. THe only grievance is over the design of the kit. Please bear in mind that the 85 kit being the one i wore as a boy, and my first kit, was a favourite of mine, I am not happy with the design. I don’t like the stitching on the front and wish it was not present and the white V is far too big. I wish it was a similar size to the 85 kit. BUt all in all, I’m happy so far.
Steve Ferns
5   Posted 13/07/2009 at 16:08:09

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I just though of the era in the late 80s when our kit was the same as Forest’s but blue, remember the kit with the large blue triangle pattern on the shorts, and then latterly there was too close a resemblance between our kits and Chelsea's (who they also made).
Alan Kirwin
6   Posted 13/07/2009 at 16:45:44

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Letter to Nick Parker

Dear Nick

Thanks for your aesthetic considerations on our new kit design. If only we’d spoken to you before our new decision. Alas, we’ll have to soldier on.

Now please, get a life, there’s a good chap.

Best of luck
Robert Elstone
Mike Hunter
7   Posted 13/07/2009 at 16:53:35

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Maybe using Le Coq Sportif (as a less ’premium brand’ than the likes of Nike or Adidas enables) enables the shirts to be sold more profitably, as their manufacturers’ cut is probably less than Nike or Adidas.

Quality-wise, I’d say they are all very similar and the name of the manufacturer makes no real difference on sales when compared to how the team wearing the shirt performs.

I firmly believe that the size of our fan base and the amount that buy the shirt is hardly related to who makes the shirts, FFS!

Gareth Humphreys
8   Posted 13/07/2009 at 17:15:21

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Nick, what a waste of Ink.
Neil McKinney
9   Posted 13/07/2009 at 18:43:55

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Well, not many supporting your letter here. However, I do think you raise a good point about market research. Did they speak to any fans during the design process? If they wanted to do an homage to the CWC kit then why did they make such a mess of it? Why the stitching and why the over-sized V?

I agree though that Mr Elstone will probably have better things to do with his time than respond to this letter when it is already too late and the kit has been launched. No problem in asking the questions about the process though.
John Martin
10   Posted 13/07/2009 at 18:56:07

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Whilst I do believe this letter will prove futile, I do agree with it in parts. LCS are a cheap brand. One of the club's greatest complaints is we don't sell enough merchandise and I believe a switch to Nike or Adidas, which are both trendy brands, would have improved on this. How many kids will choose LCS casual wear over Nike or Adidas?

Kit sales will always do ok even with the current design but sales of T-shirts etc will be poor. As for market research, they should be doing more... then we would get some better stuff in. You only have to look at fans who wear T-shirts with legends on them like Ball, Harvey & Kendall why we don't produce our own legends range.

Ged Jennings
11   Posted 13/07/2009 at 20:33:00

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I also see some of the points raised in Nick’s letter.

I wouldn’t buy any kit no matter who made it (although my Mrs bought me a Hafnia away one for Christmas), but some of the other merchandise Everton could sell lots of never seem to appear.

Somehow the club should sell the Chillean Everton shirt. I’ve seen this around Goodison a few times and they have to be imported in I think.

Australia Shirt with Cahill on the back also.

The Store now does a travelwear range made by Sergio Tachhini (sorry about the spelling!) which is a massive step in the right direction. I have thought for years if they could get a deal with Lacoste for a royal blue polo shirt and something small and classy Everton would fly out — especially away games.

As mentioned above, Legends or even anti-heroes would sell well. Brett Angell spooning a shot wide would be a classic!

Obviously it doesn’t matter anything near what happens on the pitch, but it's little things like this which would make Everton extra profit, and maybe get the 18- to 35-year-olds buying some sort of club merchandise.
Paul Gladwell
12   Posted 13/07/2009 at 20:46:44

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We organised a charity day the Saturday gone at Prenton rugby club, 30 Everton kits to 2 shite kits, felt a great pride. They have made a suberb start and done more in a month than Umbro did in years, so I would say lay off and would certainly say LCS looks much better than Adidas these days.
Tony Williams
13   Posted 13/07/2009 at 21:00:02

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Ged, the Sergio Tacchini travel wear is definitely a step in the right direction, I have bought a Polo Shirt and it is quality.

The training gear is also spot on, bought a few tops and I don’t give a toss if it is Le Coq Sportif, it looks good.

The home kit is terrible but it has already sold fantastically and I believe the training gear will outsell any previous year, as it looks so good.

So in all Nick, I think it is a wasted letter.
Michael Tracey
14   Posted 14/07/2009 at 07:10:29

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Gee I wonder if Manure fans got asked by Nike the design of there kit? I don’t think they did and why should they? Record sales and now we have 2 great club stores and still complaining!
Terry Maddock
15   Posted 14/07/2009 at 10:26:17

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Ged Jennings... loved the anti-hero idea.

How about one with Mikel Madar missing an open goal vs the Redshite... classic.

Nick Swallow
16   Posted 14/07/2009 at 11:50:34

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Bottom line, great deals with store etc kit looks shite, end of.
Damian Scott
17   Posted 14/07/2009 at 15:28:56

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To be honest, I did like the Umbro kits. They were generally quite smart, but they were lazy and just used template designs for most of their clubs. Ourselves and West Ham for example had the same designs for the past few years.

Le Coq Sportif is one of those ’old school’ brands that have made a comeback recently. I don’t see them as a "cheap" brand... quite the opposite. Anything I have seen of their latest football gear (jerseys and training wear) has been of a high quality and modern designs, but still have that classic feel to them.

Adidas are without doubt the best manufacturer of football gear at the moment and in my opinion always have been the best. Thing is though, they generally only go for big names in each country (I don’t know how Middlesbrough have their new kit with them though?)

Puma are muck. The shirts they made for us in the early 2000s were pretty poor. I only remember one nice shirt from their few years with us.

It's nice to see a change as I mentioned before. I’ll definitely give LCS a fighting chance.

From the leaked pictures online of the away shirt, this could be the making or breaking of them in a lot of Evertonians' eyes...

With regards to the home shirt, it is definitely growing on me after seeing pictures of the friendly against Bury a few days ago. It looks good ’in action’..

I will reserve judgement on buying it though until I see it in the flesh. I haven’t seen it in any of the shops in Ireland yet...
Paul Gladwell
18   Posted 14/07/2009 at 19:47:10

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I bought the kit for my lad and think it looks smart and not cheap like the Umbro shite. I was not too fussed at first when I saw it on Osman (blame him again, poor sod) as the V seemed to touch his toes, but on other people I think it looks smart.
Barry Sherlock
19   Posted 15/07/2009 at 11:13:24

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Nick, Good post.

I totally agree with your comments. Nike & Adidas would give us a hell of a lot more shirt sales. As a club we should be trying to reach out to more fans, not just the die-hard blues who will be buy the kits regardless. The club have a narrow minded approach. They are looking at previous sales results and making comparisons. We should be trying to make strides in other countries. Nike & Adidas would do that for us. As a club in the PL we have the worst shirt sales per fan — based on average attendances. That’s because only the die-hards buy.

It’s done now. LCS is a manufacturing arm of Kitbag I understand. It is going to be LCS kits for 5 years. The Kitbag deal is for 10 years. It’s signed.

Having said all that...... I didn’t like the kit when it first came out. But I’ve seen it on Jô in the Bury game and it does look really good. It looks smart and very different from all of the kits we have had in recent years.

So, it might not be the tool to unlock new supporters. Or increase shirt sales in other areas, but it is a good kit and we need now, more than ever, to get behind the team wearing it this year. COYB
Jamie Rowland
20   Posted 15/07/2009 at 15:06:56

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I don’t understand why the appearance of a swoosh or three stripes is important for public relations? For example, a lot of great teams in Italy up until last season, where wearing Lotto kits (hardly a massive brand).

Umbro is Nike and I can imagine that the hold Nike has on the sportswear industry means that the profit margin/deal that clubs get out of displaying their brand name(s) is reduced by the fact that Nike want as much as they can get. Perhaps Le Coq Sportif offered a more attractive package to the Club.

I am making the assumption that the club knows how many shirts it sells each year for full price. If they sell 40,000 shirts at £45 (or was it £49) a shirt (Umbro prices) and Umbro & JJB wanted a combined £30 of that, then Everton get £15. If Le Coq Sportif and Kitbag sell the shirts for £40 (a £5 reduction for fans) and it only costs £20, then Everton make £20 a shirt — fans get a discount and everyone is happy.

The design is another matter. The brand name, I might add, is not a sponsorship deal — it's a retail deal. Money is only made on what is sold. There is no real set fee.

So back to my original question to the author of this contradictory letter... Why is the brand name so important to you? A kit... is just that, a kit. Do you think other teams are going to mock us like kids in a playground????

Jamie Rowland
21   Posted 15/07/2009 at 15:20:30

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I believe, for those of us who are somewhat sentimental with all things Everton, that the Le Coq Sportif brand is symbolic of our team 25 years ago. Just checked my shirt and it has something on the label about 25 years... (last time we wore their kits).

We really can't complain. New kit (unlike anyone else's) — even if it was Nike, why would a non-Evertonian buy it???
New retail deal (and both shops look amazing).
New training gear — which is very nice and new merchandise in the shops (you know, mouse mats and other useless stuff that your aunt will buy you for your birthday)... So for me its a win win situation; the swoosh is irrelevant.

You could, perhaps, argue that Nike/Adidas have a greater global reach... but you only have to go on your hols to Spain to see that the majority of kits on offer are FAKE — so branding of a kit adds very little.

I might also add that its a MUCH better quality fabric than those ’see-through’ umbro ones were.
Paul Gladwell
22   Posted 15/07/2009 at 19:36:47

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Totally agree Jamie, those Umbro kits were like a pair of tights such was the quality, this new shirt has been well made at least.
Kevin Sparke
23   Posted 15/07/2009 at 21:12:41

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If we win something whilst wearing it - it will the best kit ever.
Daniel McLoughlin
24   Posted 15/07/2009 at 22:09:48

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Think you raise a valid point here... I just feel sorry for the kids walking round in a brand of kit which is very unfashionable while the RS are wearing Adidas. Surely with being a top 5 team in England, we could have found better than Le Coq Sportif.
Tony Williams
25   Posted 16/07/2009 at 09:47:05

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Daniel, what exactly is wrong with Le Coq Sportiff? I still consider it a good make and a lot of other non snooty posters will probably agree.

It’s a sad situation that people will not consider buying the team of their chosen team because the tiny logo is not as fashionable or widely used as another kit.

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