It’s already a top scorer with football fans, but with a new kidswear range the Danish brand is extending its reach beyond the pitch
Football fans will remember Hummel from the 1980s when its design-heavy kits were worn by stars such as Tottenham’s Chris Waddle and Spain and Real Madrid striker Emilio Butragueño.
There is a bit more to the brand’s history than that though. It stretches all the way back to 1923, when its German founders, the Messmer family, applied the first rubber soles to footwear. The brand remained a German treasure until 1975 when the clothing licence was acquired by Danish investors. Five years later the brand was wholly Danish owned and picking up football contracts. Its distinctive chevron sleeves were seen on the Danish national football team and Spanish champions Real Madrid.
Thanks partly to that retro appeal, Hummel is forging ahead in terms of sales to indies in the UK and is that rarest of breeds - a brand posting continual growth.
Kevin Batchelor, UK country manager, plays this down. “We’re lucky we don’t have any nasty comparatives, but in the UK we are up 15% to 20% year on year.”
Though he says the UK company, which is only four years old, is still only “a baby”, Batchelor admits it is already becoming a “lot more strategic” in its approach. “Up until now it has been marketed through virals and guerrilla campaigns. But they can be difficult to measure. We’ve changed that and
reinforced the marketing with new expertise.” Crucially, he adds, the budget for marketing is growing and he says he can now offer retailers some “proper PoS material”.
With its soccer relevance, it is unsurprising that Hummel is a brand mostly for the boys at the moment. Batchelor says: “It is 99% a men’s business in the UK at the moment. There is a retro desire there and the colourful, old-school zip jackets are the bestsellers.”
It feeds in to the same mentality that sees Sergio Tacchini and Fila continue to hold sway over terrace-fuelled sales. But Batchelor is keen to underline that this is no one-trick pony. He says: “We’re pushing kidswear with a focus on infants, toddlers and the 11-plus age range. We’ve taken on a kids’ agent and showed at [kidswear trade show] Bubble London for first time
If it follows the ssame tenets that have seen it register growth in the menswear market then it will do well. For, as Batchelor says, the brand’s affordability has been crucial. “In apparel, the £15 to £20 wholesale range is key. It comes in under some competitors and at £20 to £25 for footwear, we try to give retailers a 2.5% mark-up on everything. That’s important.” How right he is.
500-plus Number of UK accounts
30% Rise in sales for the group year on year
1992 Year the Danish football team won the European Championships wearing Hummel
- Hummel 020 8275 1170 www.hummel.dk