Marka PJSC, Dubai-based public joint stock company focused on the UAE’s retail sector has purchased a majority stake in the UK-based online retailer, Icons Shop Limited. The move makes Marka the first regional company to secure exclusive rights with an international e-commerce organisation; the acquisition sees Marka acquiring a 65% share of the world’s largest football memorabilia company for AED 15.3 million.
Icons, which was established in 1999, retails exclusive and non-exclusive sports merchandise and has a key focus on football and is the latest addition to Marka’s rapidly expanding sports portfolio.
“The acquisition of a majority stake in Icons is an important strategic addition to our growing sports retail portfolio. It is the world’s leading football memorabilia brand and makes Marka a market leader in a highly-profitable segment, with strong international growth potential through its successful online platform, ICONS.com,” says Nick Peel, CEO of Marka and chairman of the joint venture between Marka and Icons.
Marka will integrate Icons into its Modell’s Sporting Goods stores as well as its soon-to-open UEFA Champions League Experience located in Abu Dhabi’s Yas Mall. The company will draw on Icons’ relationship with the world’s best known existing and historic players such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Pelé, Diego Maradona, Luis Figo, Andrés Iniesta, Neymar Jr, Bale and James Rodriguez for signing sessions and to sell signed shirts, boots, photos and other products. Icons also holds tournament rights with the sport’s major governing bodies including FIFA’s World Cup in Russia and UEFA’s Champions League for the next three years.
The deal also includes the inventory acquisition of one of its main competitors and suppliers, making Icons, through its online portal ICONS.com, the largest signed sports memorabilia business outside of the US and the largest football memorabilia company in the world.
“We are seeing an increasing migration of customers to online, and through Icons’ e-commerce capabilities, Marka will expand our sports offering, reaching customers across the Middle East and Asia,” Peel adds.
“Icons is the world’s leading sports – and in particular football – memorabilia brand and the most trusted operation in the game. Authenticity is everything to us, as it is everything to our customers. Our new joint venture with Marka enables us to open up our offerings to the Middle East region, bringing the millions of dedicated fans here the very best choice and quality of sports memorabilia,” says Daniel Jamieson, managing director of Icons who will remain with Icons as its CEO with a mandate to expand the company’s offering across the Middle East and into Asia.