* NBA players, league call in mediator over dispute
* Licensed apparel sales could halve - analyst
* Fashion status seen protecting sales of basketball
By Victoria Bryan
FRANKFURT, Oct 14 With the first two weeks of
the U.S. basketball season cancelled and more games under
threat, German sporting goods maker Adidas faces
losing half its licensed NBA apparel sales, analysts estimate.
Games that have been dropped from the 2011/12 season, due to
start on Nov. 1, include defending champions Dallas Mavericks at
home to the Chicago Bulls.
National Basketball Association (NBA) players and owners
said on Wednesday they would enlist a mediator in the dispute
over collective bargaining.
Basketball is a lucrative business in the United States for
the world's top two sporting goods makers, Nike and
Adidas, and for retailers such as Finish Line and
Canaccord analyst Camilo Lyon estimates basketball comprises
about 30 percent of Footlocker sales and 20 percent for Finish
Adidas stands to be worst hit from the "lockout" because it
has held the licence to provide NBA uniforms and apparel since
The German group makes some $100 million in sales from
licensed NBA products, with basketball products as a whole,
including footwear, among its top five sporting categories.
Matt Powell, analyst at SportsOneSource, told Reuters
licensed apparel sales could halve, similar to the last lockout
in the 1998/99 season, if the season were cancelled.
"Overall, sales of NBA licensed products fell by 20 percent
last week, and I view that as the beginning of the fall because
of the lockout," he said.
Others say it is important for the season to start up before
Christmas, not only because it's the busiest time for the retail
world but because NBA products become less in demand as the
season goes on.
"In terms of licensed apparel, fans tend to buy jerseys near
the beginning of the season," U.S.-based Euromonitor analyst
Kailing Cai told Reuters.
Adidas said it was less concerned about the expected drop in
apparel and more interested in footwear sales, which make up the
bigger part of the basketball market.
"The kids are still buying the shoes," Chief Executive
Herbert Hainer said.
Analysts say sales of basketball shoes will be helped by
ever-present advertising, especially on social media websites,
and moves by companies to get their products noticed at a local
level, such as via college basketball.
"I can't imagine the lockout will impact Jordan sales in any
way at all," said Powell, referring to the Nike brand based
around former Chicago Bulls player Michael Jordan that makes
some $1 billion in sales annually.
Cai also highlighted the fashion status of the footwear.
"People wear basketball shoes out on the street every day.
They're not an item that people associate with actually playing
basketball," she said.