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HISTORY OF THE BRAND - Umbro

Umbro is an English sportswear and football equipment supplier based in Cheadle, Greater Manchester, England. The company is currently a subsidiary of Iconix Brand Group.

Umbro designs, sources, and markets football-related apparel, footwear, and equipment. Its products are sold in over 90 countries worldwide.

Umbro currently manufactures all types of sports wear apparel including training gear and football boots. Until the mid-1980s, the company manufactured only sports clothing, in particular football jerseys, shorts, and socks, but had no footwear range. Eventually, in 1985 Umbro decided to introduce its first football boot into the Brazilian market. This design, cheaper than the products of existing boot brands such as Adidas, proved popular and went into mass production internationally two years later.

Umbro also manufactured a popular style of shorts that reached its peak in the late 1980s and early 1990s. They were made of nylon, had a drawstring waistband, and often came in bright colours. With the growth of youth football leagues in the United States in the 1980s, many youths, teens, and young adults began wearing them as everyday clothing. Like football itself, they were equally popular among both genders[citation needed]. At the height of the "Umbro" fashion, other brands of football shorts, such as Adidas, Diadora, Hummel, Lotto and Mitre, also became popular. Its major competitors in this market include Adidas, Nike, Lotto, Puma, and fellow North West England manufacturer Reebok.

More recent releases by Umbro include the Stealth boot, released in 2010 and worn by players such as Gael Clichy and Phil Jagielka. The same year the company released the GT, worn by Aston Villa striker Darren Bent. The company announced it as "its lightest ever boot". This was succeeded by the GT II model.

June 2011 saw the release of the Umbro Geometra Pro.

History

The company was founded by Harold Humphreys, along with his brother Wallace in a small workshop in Wilmslow, Cheshire, inspired by the growing interest in football witnessed nationwide. The word "Umbro" is an acronym derived from Humphreys Brothers Clothing. Umbro's kit debut was in the 1934 FA Cup final, when both teams Manchester City and Portsmouth wore uniforms designed and manufactured by the company. Other teams supplied by Umbro during the 1930s and 1940s were Sheffield United, Preston North End, Manchester United and Blackpool.

Umbro was the official sports manufacturer of the English FA Cup and official sponsor of The FA, being the exclusive supplier of balls to the body's leagues. The company was the title sponsor of The FA Umbro Fives, The FA's national 5-a-side competition from 2007 to 2012.

In 1952, the British team at the Summer Olympics wore Umbro kits, tailored for the needs of their individual sports. Umbro would supply kits for the British Olympics team for the next 20 years.

In 1957 Umbro entered the tennis market, producing sports clothing in collaboration with player Teddy Tinling. This collaboration extended for three decades. After his death, it was also discovered that Tinling had worked as a spy for the British government during the Second World War.[citation needed] Another sportsman who collaborated with Umbro was Manchester United manager Matt Busby, in 1959. That same year the company started to sell its junior boys' kits, a set of shirt, shorts and socks that would allow young players to wear the same look as their footballing idols.

Brazil became the first FIFA World Cup champion to wear uniforms by Umbro in 1962. Two years later, Manchester United Scottish player Denis Law signed an exclusive agreement with the brand, becoming the first footballer to be sponsored by Umbro. The England national team won its first title in 1966 wearing kits by Umbro (the deal had been signed in 1954). Of the 16 teams that competed, 15 wore kit manufactured by Umbro[citation needed], the only exception being the USSR. At the same time, 85% of British football teams wore uniforms by the company, including Celtic, the first British team to win a European Cup in 1967. Liverpool FC won the first four of their five European Cups while wearing Umbro kits, in 1977, 1978, 1981 and 1984.

In 1974 Umbro's founder, Harold Humphreys, died. His sons John and Stuart took over the running of the company. The England national team wore Umbro shirts by choice until 1974, until the Football Association, encouraged by the England manager Don Revie, sold the jersey manufacturing rights to Admiral. In 1982, the FA returned to Umbro as England jersey manufacturers. For example, in 2009 Umbro produced the kit in collaboration with London tailor Charlie Allen (designer).

After more than a decade wearing Admiral kits, the England national team signed with Umbro again in 1984. In 1986 Umbro began to manufacture its own football boots. The company added footballers Alan Shearer and Michael Owen (who was only 14 years old) to its list of sponsored athletes. In 1994 Brazil won its 4th FIFA World Cup title in the United States and club teams AFC Ajax (in 1995) and Manchester United F.C. (in 1999) obtained the UEFA Champions League and the Intercontinental Cup, in Tokyo, all of them wearing Umbro kits.

In the United States, Umbro was the majority owner (94%) of United Soccer Leagues, the parent organization for North America's lower division men's soccer (tiers two through four in the American Soccer Pyramid), and the second tier women's league (W-League) and youth league (Super Y-League). During the 2009 USL First Division season, the Carolina RailHawks, Charleston Battery, Vancouver Whitecaps, Rochester Rhinos, Austin Aztex, and Puerto Rico Islanders all wore Umbro kits. During the 2012 USLPro season, the Dayton Dutch Lions wore Umbro.

In October 2007, JJB Sports bought a 10.1% stake in Umbro in a move to protect its stake in the market for England football shirts.

On 23 October 2007, it was announced Umbro had agreed to be bought by Nike, Inc. in a deal worth GB£285 million (US$580 million), the equivalent of 193p per share. The Umbro board recommended to its shareholders they vote in favour of the approach as it offered a very competitive price for the business. Umbro's share price at the time of the offer was close to 130p. The deal was approved by regulators in December 2007 and concluded in February 2008. With the objective of revitalising the brand, Umbro launched the "Tailored by England" lines. As of 4 June 2009, Umbro signed a deal with Manchester City to supply uniforms for the team. Wearing Umbro kits, Manchester City won its first championship in 35 years.

In 2010, Umbro became sponsor of reformed American team New York Cosmos to be its exclusive uniform supplier.

In May 2012, Nike reported that they would be selling Umbro (along with Cole Haan) in order to focus on their sports brands, including Nike, Converse, Hurley and Jordan. In September 2012, the Football Association announced that future England kits would be manufactured by Nike.

On October 2012, Nike Inc. announced that it had agreed with Iconix Brand Group to sell Umbro in USD 225 million. The acquisition was completed on December 2012.

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