Adidas is preparing to take over the rights to outfit National Hockey League teams from its subsidiary brand Reebok, a person familiar with the matter said.
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The move comes as the German company is re-evaluating its branding in the U.S. sportswear market, where its pace of sales have slipped in recent years as rivals Nike and Under Armour have surged.
Terms of the agreement weren't immediately known. A spokesman for the NHL said "it would be premature to comment." Adidas declined to comment. Reebok didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.
A joint event between Adidas and NHL executives is scheduled for Tuesday in New York City.
An NHL deal would come a few months after Adidas said it wouldn't renew its existing outfitting contract with the National Basketball Association, which Chief Executive Herbert Hainer said wasn't driving enough sales. The company said it would focus on inking more sponsorships with individual professional athletes, including a deal announced Thursday to endorse Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
At the same time, Adidas has moved to reposition the Reebok brand away from so-called varsity sports like football and basketball, instead focusing on fitness and training gear.
The NHL contract is currently Reebok's last major U.S. sports asset. Adidas has previously taken over an outfitting rights deal from Reebok, when it signed an 11-year contract with the NBA in 2006.
Retail sales of licensed NHL merchandise, including apparel but also accessories, rank fourth among the five major professional U.S. sports leagues, according to trade publication License Global Magazine. Of those leagues, Adidas also holds the outfitting license to Major League Soccer, while rival Nike holds the contract with the National Football League and will assume the NBA license in 2017.
Majestic Athletic holds the rights to outfit Major League Baseball jerseys, the most lucrative pro U.S. sports league by retail sales of licensed merchandise, according to License Global.
The NHL season will begin next month, but the league has been active in business contract negotiations in the off-season. Last month, the league agreed to sell its digital and broadcast operations to MLB Advanced Media for $600 million over six years.
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