Mitchell & Ness, a vintage-style sports apparel maker, has replaced its retiring chief executive officer as new owner Fanatics Inc. expands its reach in licensed sports merchandise.
(Bloomberg) — Mitchell & Ness, a vintage-style sports apparel maker, has replaced its retiring chief executive officer as new owner Fanatics Inc. expands its reach in licensed sports merchandise.
Eli Kumekpor, formerly an executive at Nike Inc.’s Jordan brand and a US Army veteran, is taking over Mitchell & Ness, effective immediately. Former CEO Kevin Wulff, who joined Fanatics along with the rest of the Mitchell & Ness staff in the acquisition, will retire Sept. 1.
Fanatics hopes Kumekpor can find “new avenues for significant growth” for the company, which sells replica jerseys from old All-Star games and fitted caps with team logos that haven’t been used in decades.
Fanatics bought a majority stake in Mitchell & Ness in 2022, with the rest going to celebrity investors including LeBron James, Jay-Z and Kevin Hart. The deal valued the business at $250 million, Bloomberg News previously reported.
Over the past 18 months, Fanatics has added new licensing rights arrangements across sports leagues and unions for Mitchell & Ness. Last June, it came to terms with the National Hockey League on a long-term partnership for all of the league’s 32 franchises.
An early initiative for Kumekpor will be to expand in college sports. Mitchell & Ness has added 60 university licenses and plans to release new merchandise this fall with partners such as the University of Alabama, Clemson University and the University of Notre Dame.
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