ROOTS READY TO BRANCH OUT

Byline: Brian Dunn

MONTREAL — Roots Canada is trying to cash in on its tremendous popularity at the Winter Olympics through increased joint-venture deals, especially in the U.S.
Cofounder Michael Budman said the exposure Roots received in Salt Lake City gives it the opportunity to focus on the American market for growth. Each day during the Olympics, Roots sold an average of 100,000 of its popular berets worn by the U.S. Olympic Team, for $19.95 each. It already has signed on to be an apparel sponsor of the U.S. Olympic team for the Summer Games in Athens in 2004.
“The key is to get greater distribution in the U.S. through our existing agreement with Nordstrom’s, through the QVC shopping channel and through our own Web site, which generates in excess of $10 million in revenues a year,” Budman said. “We’re also looking at other retailers who are prepared to offer us a long-term commitment for our store-within-a-store concept.”
The $200 million company is looking at similar arrangements in the U.K. and Germany.
Roots has been bombarded with requests from American corporations to buy its products for promotions and special events, according to Budman. The brand hopes to soon announce an expanded agreement with the United States Tennis Association for the U.S. Open, where it has been a licensee for two years.
Although Roots won’t replace Fila as the on-court apparel sponsor, it may get its own on-site store to sell merchandise to the public, according to Sara Cummins, director of licensing for the USTA.
Budman said the company will likely eliminate some fashion items such as casual and workplace apparel to concentrate on more lifestyle items such as T-shirts and sweatshirts.
“The people have spoken and we’ve found our niche, which is lifestyle sportswear,” he said. “Most of the products will continue to be manufactured in Toronto, where we still have tremendous capacity. It also offers the advantage of a lower Canadian dollar.”

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