In the biggest multi-geography bet on cricketing gear, sportswear brand Zeven has bagged the licensing rights for International Cricket Council (ICC) merchandise in 23 key markets, including India. Zeven is jointly owned by tennis star Mahesh Bhupathi and former Nike country head Hemachandra Javeri. The four-year contract gives the sportswear brand the exclusive licence rights for apparel, accessories and select footwear, including replicas and lifestyle ranges of ICC. Moving ahead, Zeven will rope in iconic cricketers-turned-businessmen, whose names are yet to be disclosed, to build the business in markets like Sri Lanka and Pakistan. The merchandise will also sport Zeven logo except in the case of replicas. Though the financial details of the transaction are not disclosed, the deal is expected to deliver almost one-fifth of Zeven's revenues projected at Rs 250 crore in the next four years, up from about Rs 30 crore estimated in the current year. The co-founders Bhupathi and Javeri, along with a couple of angel investors, have pumped in Rs 50 crore into the company already , with plans afoot for a fresh round of fund-raising from institutional investors. “There exists huge opportunity to develop cricket-inspired lifestyle merchandise like in football and in tennis,” said Zeven director Mahesh Bhupathi. “There is a big gap between exorbitantly priced authentic replicas and cheap counterfeits. Zeven will service this need with our reasonably priced offerings at great quality,” he added. In its second year of operations, Zeven is ramping up distribution mostly through modern retail channels and multi-brand outlets, though it would operate flagship exclusive stores in the top six metros. Zeven has bagged the non-exclusive rights for some other markets like the US, which interestingly has more than 2,500 active cricket clubs.
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