Ulster Rugby has signed a five year extension to its kit partnership with International Sportswear Company, Kukri. It is a rare item of good news for the sport in a difficult week and comes with one year still to run on the existing partnership between the two organisations.
Kukri will invest in the development of the club retail store at the new development of Ravenhill Stadium . While no financial value was put on the deal it is believed to be one of the largest at club level across the sport in Europe.
Kukri was founded in 1999 and has grown into an international brand from headquarters in the North of England. It’s main strength is in rugby, hockey and cricket but it is also a partner of the 2014 Commonwealth Games and has broken into professional soccer through a partnership with Wycombe Wanderers in England.
The brand has a strong affinity to schools and colleges as well and was formerly the official partner of Cricket Ireland.
Each of the four provinces in Ireland has a different kit manufacturer, despite three being sponsored by Bank of Ireland. Munster recently launched a new kit with Adidas. Leinster are with Canterbury who are expected to be named as the returning kit partner of the IRFU in the coming weeks, and Connacht are with Australian firm BLK Sport.
“This is great news for us and we are delighted to continue our successful partnership with Ulster,” said Kukri Group Founder Phil Morris. “Ulster Rugby has continued to go from strength to strength and this deal underlines our commitment to the sport of rugby and the Province of Ulster. This is a true partnership on both sides and we look forward to a very bright future.”
“The partnership over the last six years has really delivered for both sides,” added the company’s Irish Director Terry Jackson. “With the redevelopment of Ravenhill and our investment in the new shop we believe it will get stronger and stronger.
In addition to Bank of Ireland and Kukri, Ulster Rugby also has a headline and kit sponsorship with BT which operates across both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and has become a major player in the sporting world through the creation of BT Sport to rival Sky.
“The kit partnership is one of the most vital within the club in terms of provision of top class performance sportswear and financial revenue streams,” said Fiona Hampton, Head of Sales and Marketing at Ulster Rugby.
“We have an excellent working partnership with Kukri and the deal has the ability to deliver rewards for both parties on hitting mutually agreed objectives.”
Ulster Rugby boosted its profile on the international stage when making it to the final stages of the Heineken Cup consistently in recent years, as well as the final of the RaboDirect Pro12.
In common with each of the four provincial teams in Ireland it has made no comment on the threat this week by English and French clubs to form a breakaway European League and invite others to participate in it.