Andy Murray shed his Fred Perry clothes in 2009. It took him another four years to escape the 77-year shadow cast by the last male British Wimbledon champion.
His defeat of Novak Djokovic in the July 7 tennis final will be worth about 50 million pounds ($75 million) as global consumer companies such as Gillette Co. and Coca-Cola Co. will consider bidding for Murray’s signature, according to Nigel Currie, a sports marketing executive at BrandRapport in London.
Murray, 26, switched to the three stripes of German sportswear maker Adidas AG (ADS) from the laurel wreaths that adorn the Perry shirts. Asked what Perry, who died in 1995 at age 85, would say about his run at Wimbledon, Murray quipped: “Why are you not wearing my kit?”
Perry won his third-straight title at the All England Club in 1936 when Edward VIII, Queen Elizabeth II’s uncle, was king. In addition to Adidas, Murray endorses racket supplier Head NV and watch manufacturer Rado Uhren AG. Prime Minister David Cameron said the Scot deserves a knighthood for ending Britain’s Wimbledon drought.
“It’s like France winning the soccer World Cup in 1998 at home, or South Africa winning the rugby World Cup at home in 1995,” Currie said. “Wimbledon is a very British event, yet one of the biggest in the world of sports. But the Brits until now have done spectacularly badly at winning it. The uniqueness of that is a key factor in the U.K., as well as outside. It becomes an emotional, emotive story.”
Perry started his brand in the 1940s by giving away sweatbands emblazoned with his name. The business evolved into sports shirts meant for the court that won a following on the street. Perry and a partner sold out in 1961 “exhausted by the company’s demands,” according to the company’s website.
Fred Perry Ltd. is today owned by Osaka, Japan-based Hit Union Co. The Fred Perry brand has shops in the U.K., U.S. and Asia, and reported earnings of 20 million pounds on revenue of 119.8 million pounds in the 12 months ended March 31, 2012, according to the most recent corporate filings. Slightly less than half of the sales were in Britain.
A call and e-mails to Perry representatives seeking comment on Murray’s victory weren’t immediately returned. Bradley Wiggins, the 2012 winner of the Tour de France known for his sideburns and love of British bands The Jam and The Who, is currently the brand’s best-known endorser.
Murray’s straight-set defeat of top-seeded Djokovic gives him the chance to earn as much as Nike Inc. (NKE:US) players Rafael Nadal of Spain and Roger Federer of Switzerland, Currie said. Murray was beaten in last year’s Wimbledon final by Federer.
“The British side is important, but he’s moved into a global range now,” Currie said. “It showed when he moved from Fred Perry to Adidas. He moved from being a big U.K. athlete to being a world athlete, and that will continue for the next few years.”
Murray is the company’s main tennis endorser, although it gets more from soccer, where it sells a shoe used by Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, the four-time world player of the year. Adidas, based in Herzogenaurach, Germany, reported net income of 524 million euros ($688 million) on sales of 14.9 billion euros in fiscal 2012.
“Adidas will be desperate to hold on to him,” Currie said. “Nike has been pretty dominant in recent years. Murray is now becoming a big established name, and that will be a big bonus for Adidas.”
Coca-Cola isn't in talks with Murray about a sponsorship deal, Kate Hartman, a company spokeswoman, said in a July 9 e-mail.
The tennis player’s annual earnings potential may triple from endorsements and prize money, according to branding consultant Jonathan Gabay.
Murray is targeting clothing makers such as Ted Baker Plc and Burberry, which are the type of fashionable consumer product makers he wants to be associated with, according to a person with knowledge of the player’s thinking. The person declined to be named because no agreements have been signed.
Burberry Group Plc (BRBY) doesn’t have a contract with Murray, said a spokeswoman for the London-based maker of trench coats who asked not to be named citing company policy. She declined further comment. Officials at London-based Ted Baker haven’t returned calls and e-mails seeking comment.
Olympic, U.S. Champion
Already the reigning Olympic and U.S. Open champion, Murray has a chance to end the year as the No. 1 player on the men’s ATP World Tour and his Wimbledon victory will have resonance as the U.K. economy struggles to grow, Gabay said. Britain expanded by 0.3 percent in the first quarter.
“Having a home-grown champion means a lot in the U.K.,” Gabay said. “He will be inundated with offers, but he has to choose the appropriate offer. It’s all about very astute brand management.”
Early in his career, Murray was guided by Patricio Apey, who was an agent for former U.S. Open champion Gabriela Sabatini. He’s been managed for the past four years by Simon Fuller’s XIX Entertainment, which also is used by retired English soccer star David Beckham.
Beckham, 38, is married to the former Spice Girls singer Victoria Beckham, who is also known as Posh Spice, and has achieved worldwide popularity both on and off the field. He was No. 8 on Forbes magazine’s list of the world’s highest-paid athletes in 2012 with earnings of $46 million, which include sponsorships with Adidas, PepsiCo Inc. and Giorgio Armani SpA.
Murray didn’t feature on last year’s list. Golfer Rory McIlroy was 21st on the list, with $29.6 million, and Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton was 26th, with earnings of $27.5 million. There were no other Britons in the top 50 on the Forbes list.
Murray is the first client of XIX Globosport, a partnership of XIX and Globosport, which was founded by former tennis player Mahesh Bhupathi of India. XIX Globosport will seek “to capitalize on sports and entertainment opportunities in India and the Middle East in particular,” The Independent newspaper reported on April 11.
Bhupathi, once the world’s top-ranked doubles player, said in a July 8 e-mail to Bloomberg News that he was “leaving the commenting to Andy for now.” Fuller’s London office declined requests for comment on Murray.
Murray said he lets his agents and managers focus on his endorsements and investments, while he concentrates on his training and performance.
“When I’m on the court, I am unbelievably nervous at the end of the match, and the reason for that is because you’re trying to win Wimbledon and you want to be part of a historical event, or an occasion,” he said in a July 8 interview with Bloomberg Television. “That’s what matters, that’s what makes me unbelievably nervous. Obviously as sportsmen, we get paid money, probably too much, well, definitely too much, but we have a short career and you try to maximize it as best as you can.”
The two-time Grand Slam champion has worked to increase his likability, appearing in a British Broadcasting Corp. documentary the week before Wimbledon to talk about his childhood and athletic career. He cried while discussing the March 1996 shooting at his primary school in Dunblane that left 16 children and a teacher dead. It was the worst shooting in U.K. history.
Murray also is dressing better, doing photo shoots for the fashion magazine Vogue and attending catwalk shows for brands such as Burberry.
Since Perry’s day, Britain’s tennis success was topped by Virginia Wade, who won the Wimbledon women’s championship in 1977. Wade, 63, has been able to stay in the public eye as an announcer for the BBC and other broadcasters. She also lists London-based Barclays Plc, watchmaker Rolex Group of Geneva and U.S.-based athletic-footwear manufacturer K-Swiss Inc. as clients on her website.
Murray said he and Perry, who was living in Australia when he died 13 years ago, shared a link despite never having met.
“He’s someone that I’ve spoken to a lot of people about,” Murray said after his victory earlier this month. “I’ve met various people from his family and used to wear his gear. It’s a weird one.”
Chances are that whatever sponsors Murray adds it won’t be a champagne maker. He ran for cover as his team shook up bottles and sprayed the locker room during their celebration.
“I hate champagne,” Murray said. “It burns my throat.”
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