After suffering Heineken Cup heartbreak at the hands of Saracens at the weekend, there was good news off the field for the Ospreys today, when it was confirmed that merchandise sales at the Liberty Stadium have broken through the £1million barrier.
After suffering Heineken Cup heartbreak at the hands of Saracens at the weekend, there was good news off the field for the Ospreys today, when it was confirmed that merchandise sales at the Liberty Stadium have broken through the £1million barrier for the first time, establishing a new record for Welsh regional rugby.
The tills at the Liberty Stadium have been ringing up sales at an unprecedented rate this season, coinciding with the team's progression to the Heineken Cup knockout stages for the first time in the five-years since they came into existence.
Bosses at the region have revealed that they topped the magic £1million figure on the eve of their Quarter-Final at Vicarage Road, and are predicting that the final figure for the year is set to rise still higher with a high profile EDF Energy Cup Final clash against Leicester Tigers at Twickenham still to come this weekend.
The latest figures show that sales of Ospreys merchandise at the Liberty Stadium Superstore are up almost £300,000 on the same time last year, and are heading for an end of financial year increase in excess of 25 per cent. Last season saw the region set a then record sales figure of £805,000, a sum already dwarfed by this year's sales as the Ospreys go from strength to strength as a business.
By comparison, the total value of merchandise sold during the Ospreys first season (2003/04) was just £90,000.
Ospreys Managing Director Roger Blyth said:
"We are delighted to be able to announce that for the first time ever we have generated merchandise sales of more than £1million through our Liberty Stadium Superstore, with almost two full months remaining of the financial year. At the same stage of last season, sales had reached a then all-time high of £727,000, and we have already beaten the end of year total of £805,000, so it is clear to see that the Ospreys brand is continuing to grow at an incredible rate.
Our shirt continues to be something of a commercial phenomenon and remains one of the biggest selling in the UK and Ireland. It is at the heart of our commercial success, counting for more than 45 per cent of our total sales at the club shop to date this season, up from 35 per cent. Last season more than 40,000 were sold in total, with 7,200 of those sales being made directly through us at the Liberty Stadium. This season to date, the figure for sales at the stadium superstore is in excess of 9,300, a substantial increase which is indicative of the growing interest there is in the Ospreys, both locally and nationally, and we are expecting to see that trend continuing when all nationwide sales are taken into account.
It has always been our aim to establish ourselves as one of European rugby's elite organisations, both commercially and in terms of playing success, and we have in place a solid business plan that we believe will allow us to do this. At the heart of our plan is a commercial operation that will generate the revenue to allow us to invest at all levels, making us stronger from top to bottom.
The Ospreys business has changed beyond all recognition since our early days when we survived on a hand to mouth basis and were reliant to an extent on the generosity of individuals to underwrite our losses at what was a difficult time for a fledgling organisation. Our belief in what we are doing here at the Ospreys is paying dividends. We now have a profitable, self-sufficient business that has recorded a profit in each of the last two seasons. To be able to post retail sales in excess of £1million in a season, with some seven or eight weeks still remaining of the financial year is another significant landmark for the Ospreys, and is an achievement that everybody within the organisation can be proud of.
The next task for us is to ensure that this isn't just a one off. If we are to continue developing as he have over the last few seasons, then we need to look at making £1million the norm, and then at how we can turn that into £2million worth of sales a year. What we mustn't do is take it for granted, as that is when we'll stand still. Do that in business, or in sport, and you'll pay the price."