Fanatics buys Italian sports merchandise company EPI
Fanatics, the sports merchandising giant, has extended its reach into Europe, acquiring EPI, an Italian sports merchandising company.
Why it matters: Fanatics already operates and licenses online retail stores for global sports organizations like the International Olympic Committee and Formula 1.
Catch up fast: The Jacksonville, Florida-based company is valued at $31 billion, after raising $1.5 billion in a new round of funding in December.
- The funding has added more fuel to its acquisition machine and fanned the flames of speculation about a potential IPO.
Details: Fanatics will also acquire The Pitch Football Store, a specialist omnichannel retailer in soccer.
- The soon-rebranded Fanatics Italy will operate within Fanatics' e-commerce and licensed sports merchandise business.
- EPI owner Lorenzo Forte will run the business, but will report to global Fanatics Commerce co-presidents Chris Orton and Jack Boyle.
- Fanatics didn't disclose any details of the transaction.
Context: Milan-based EPI was founded in 1996 and manages the official online and physical stores of AC Milan, Atalanta, Bologna, Fiorentina, Inter Milan, Juventus and Lazio.
- It also has partnerships with Nike, Adidas and Puma and the Italian basketball team Olimpia Milano.
- Fanatics is also connected with the continent's soccer (um, football) culture, including Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United, Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Atlético Madrid and more.
The big picture: Founded in 2011, Fanatics has been gobbling up the sports merchandise and memorabilia market, but it also starting to make more forays into areas beyond its core business.
- In February 2022, Fanatics purchased iconic throwback retailer Mitchell & Ness along with Jay-Z and other celebrities, in a deal valued at around $250 million.
- In January 2022, the company bought the trading cards and collectibles business of Topps for about $500 million.
Editor's note: The story has been corrected to note that Fanatics' valuation is $31 billion, based on a $700 million round in December, not $27 billion on a $1.5 billion valuation last month.