Fanatics announced the opening of the company’s newest international division, Fanatics Japan. The Tokyo-based office will lead the initial expansion of Fanatics’ operations throughout Asia, and strategically aligns with the company’s expansion strategy to grow the licensed sports merchandise industry across key global markets.
In addition, Fanatics has named retail and marketing expert Masanori Kawana as managing director, Fanatics Japan. Kawana will lead an initial team of roughly 30 employees, many of which have strong ties to the Japanese sports landscape through work with leading apparel brand Majestic, which Fanatics acquired in May 2017 to bolster manufacturing and wholesale capabilities worldwide.
The new Fanatics Japan division will build on a strong portfolio of existing partnerships across Japanese professional baseball teams, while also incorporating Fanatics’ well established, vertically-integrated manufacturing model to create a broader assortment of unique products that the company designs, manufactures and delivers through a faster, more agile supply chain to handle the growing real-time demand of fans throughout Asia. This quick-strike model also allows Fanatics to specialize in producing and distributing fan gear for the sports world’s unpredictable “micro moments,” including record-breaking player feats, spectacular performances and memorable games which fans want to instantly memorialize through custom merchandise.
Kawana will report directly to Steve Davis, president of Fanatics International, who since taking over his new role in September 2017 has begun to introduce Fanatics’ omni-channel platform across key regions to help top sports brands and teams better service their global fan bases with a larger, more-timely merchandise assortment.
“The opening of the new Fanatics Japan division will allow us to build on the success that Majestic has experienced throughout the region, and to continue innovating the licensed sports merchandise industry as whole,” said Kawana. “I am excited to be joining the company during this time, and see a huge opportunity to expand our portfolio of top partners and brands across the entire sports landscape.”
Over the past few years Fanatics’ innovative approach to creating a seamless, end-to-end retail experience across online and offline channels has created deep partnerships with the sports world’s biggest leagues, properties, teams and events. The company runs ecommerce for all major North America sports leagues, operates in-venue retail for over 35 professional and college teams as well as the NBA’s flagship store in New York City, executes on-site retail for events such as MLB All-Star Game and World Baseball Classic and partners with top global football clubs including Manchester United and Real Madrid.
“As Fanatics continues to prioritize international expansion as a pillar of the company’s growth, it was incredibly important to add someone like Masanori to the team and utilize his expertise across consumer marketing and brand development to establish a strong presence in the region,” said Davis. “There is an immense passion for sports across the region, and we are excited to significantly elevate the licensed sports industry and the assortment of high quality products available for top teams, brands and most importantly the fans.”
Kawana brings a strong retail and marketing background to Fanatics, most recently having founded the startup FanForward Inc., which focused on improving fan engagement through technology. He previously was an Engagement Manager at McKinsey & Company with a focus on B2C marketing, retail and the CPG industry. Prior, he was a member of the Automotive Business Division of Mitsubishi Corporation with assignments led out of the company’s England and Poland subsidiaries, and also served as Press Officer for the National Team of Japan during the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
He received a Bachelor of Laws from Keio University in Japan, and also earned his MBA in Marketing and Organization from Northwestern University’s prestigious Kellogg School of Management.
Photo courtesy Fanatics