Learfield Sports has agreed to acquire Licensing Resource Group (LRG), adding an array of licensing, merchandising and brand marketing services to its portfolio of college businesses.
“The LRG team has done a terrific job serving its collegiate partners, and we are thrilled to have them join the Learfield family,” said Greg Brown, President and CEO of Learfield. “We are also excited to now offer a broader collection of services to our collegiate partners.”
LRG was founded in 1991 by three individuals who came from different areas of the licensing industry to create an alternative to traditional licensing agencies. Lewis Hardy, LRG president and CEO, and Gene Wandling, the company's CFO, remain with the business today. LRG has 36 employees and five offices. Learfield will not be making any employee changes, and the terms of the transaction will remain confidential.
“We have a great team of people, and we are thrilled to now be joining Learfield,” said Hardy. “We've worked hard over the years to build valuable relationships in the college marketplace and Learfield will help us grow our capabilities in the coming years. Learfield has a stellar reputation, and we are excited about this new chapter of growth for LRG.”
LRG primarily provides schools with a suite of licensing services, including trademark and brand management. The company has a demonstrated track record in driving higher retail sales by providing schools and vendors with advice and consulting services, based on years of retail and marketing expertise.
“Learfield, with its trusted relationships throughout college athletics, will provide additional resources and industry connections to help fuel future growth of LRG,” added Brown.
“Lewis Hardy and LRG are phenomenal partners who have led a dynamic transformation of Baylor's retail sales and brand development,” said Ian McCaw, Baylor University's Athletic Director. “Baylor's growth in the marketplace has matched the athletics' programs extraordinary success in recent years, and Learfield will provide LRG with even more resources to help us grow.”
“I was thrilled to learn that our good friends at LRG are joining the Learfield Sports family. K-State has enjoyed a tremendous relationship with Learfield, and we appreciate their longtime support as we build toward our vision of a model intercollegiate athletics program,” said John Currie, Kansas State University Athletic Director. “LRG has helped transform our market position and brand presence both in state and nationally since becoming our licensing partner in the fall of 2010 and to have these organizations under one roof is a huge plus not just for K-State, but also for college athletics in general. I am confident that together they will be even more powerful in helping us generate resources to improve both our student-athlete and fan experience.”
Hardy will continue to manage LRG day-to-day and will report to Learfield Sports' COO Marc Jenkins. The licensing services will be a part of a group that includes other businesses complementary to Learfield's multimedia rights operation. This group includes its joint ventures to provide hospitality and concessions services and ticket sales for collegiate programs. The expansion of complementary businesses is a primary component of Learfield's strategic plan for growth.
“We will continue LRG's record of personalized service and proven results for clients,” noted Brown. “Those expectations are in perfect alignment with Learfield's approach to doing business and serving our university partners.”
Licensing Resource Group was founded in May of 1991, and currently represents more than 220 universities, colleges, athletic conferences, and special properties nationwide. LRG is an aggressive industry leader that works to change outdated perceptions of collegiate licensing and continues to advance brand development, online enforcement, and license management. LRG provides a broad array of branding services which includes contract management, retail consulting, brand development and protection, IT systems, and royalty management from offices in Holland, MI; Winston-Salem, NC; Iowa City, IA; Bristol, RI; and Frisco, TX.
Learfield Sports manages the exclusive multimedia rights to 99 collegiate properties throughout the country and has prominence in all of the major conferences. Learfield's rights encompass all athletic department media and sponsorships components, including stadium signage and numerous content distribution platforms. Those platforms deliver the passion of college athletics over radio, television and digital networks to fans globally.