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Adidas has 'not got everything right' - Steve Tew

Published: 6:36AM Thursday August 11, 2011 Source: ONE News

Adidas has not "got everything right" over the All Blacks jersey issue, New Zealand Rugby Union chief executive Steve Tew says.

Tew told TV ONE's Close Up that "we don't take the support of our fans for granted" and "we are trying to find a piece of middle ground" with adidas.

But Tew acknowledged the row has done some harm to the NZRU and the All Blacks brand.

His comments follow the lifting of a block on overseas websites selling the jersey to people in New Zealand.

Tew says the partnership with adidas, which began in 1999 and runs through to 2019, will be nearer to $500 million than $400 million by its end, and that goes directly into supporting rugby in New Zealand from grassroots to "keeping Richie (McCaw) in the country".

"Adidas hasn't got everything right, they accept that and admit it themselves," said Tew.

But he said it is up to people to decide where they buy the jersey and the way the debate has panned out this week has worked out well for buyers.

"It's now a hell of a lot cheaper to buy a jersey than it was at the beginning of the week."

Tew says this is really a dispute between the retailer and wholesaler.

Adidas has apologised to unhappy fans but the fallout from the controversy has cost one worker her job.

Tonight adidas was meant to host a who's who of sport and media but it cancelled its All Blacks party in Auckland because of "serious customer issues".

While not budging on the wholesale cost of the jersey, New Zealand manager David Huggett said: "I want to apologise to you and to all the fans out there. We've heard the frustration."

And ONE News understands that a receptionist at the company's head office has lost her job after posting comments about the jersey debacle on Facebook.

When ONE News tried to reach her today, an automatic email reply stated: "I am no longer employed by adidas NZ..."

A public relations person for adidas said the company is "not at liberty to discuss employment-related issues".

But adidas has unblocked New Zealanders' access to overseas websites which are selling the jersey much cheaper than local retailers. On worldrugbyshop.com the jerseys are selling for $US80 ($NZ97) not including shipping. rugbystore.co.uk is "out of stock".

New Zealand stores that have dropped their prices say they can still compete.

"It makes more sense to buy it onshore in this country, and be able to exchange it, return it, change it over if it's faulty," Rebel Sport general manager Rod Duke said.

Sales are also picking up for an alternative Rugby World Cup jersey available at supermarkets.

And New Zealanders are finding their own ways to vent their frustration. T-shirt makers Mr Vintage say they have been flooded with requests for an anti-adidas shirt.

"Most requested t-shirt we've ever had, people are angry. They're looking for pretty much a protesters' shirt, rather than us creating a supporters jersey," spokesman Robert Ewan said.

But they say they are still considering the legal implications of taking on a global giant.

Even the Prime Minister waded into the jersey debate yesterday and told adidas to admit it had made a problem and "fix it".

"It's when you just will not admit that there is a problem that it becomes a massive problem and I think that's the position adidas have got themselves into," John Key said.

Apology for distraction

Huggett admits the company should have handled the All Blacks jersey debacle differently.

"I recognise there is a lot of frustration from Kiwis out there," Huggett told Newstalk ZB .

And he apologised for the jersey debacle detracting from the Rugby World Cup excitement.

"The last 11 days has been pretty tough, I want to apologise to you for creating a distraction to what should have been a smooth build-up to the Rugby World Cup."

He said the company recognised New Zealanders are passionate about their jersey.

The sportswear manufacturer has faced a boycott from disgruntled rugby fans. Adidas managing director for the Pacific Greg Kerr told TV ONE's Close Up  last night the wholesale price of the jersey will not be reduced and that it was "absolutely fair and reasonable".

Huggett said last night that when considering the difference between prices in New Zealand and those offshore, adidas has to look at its investment into grass roots rugby, and into the retail landscape with its stores.

"We invest significant amounts of money here that isn't invested in other parts of the world," he said.

Huggett said today the adidas "brand has been changed" in New Zealand as result of what's been a "tough time for us".

What do you think about the adidas saga? Have your say on the messageboard below.

 

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  • Gandolf said on 2011-09-03 @ 21:15 NZDT: Report abusive post

    I live in perth Aus and have been listening to all the controversy regarding the jerseys in the radio talkback. I got home yesterday and my son was wearing a new rugby jersy. I asked him where he bought it from and he said the All black site on the internet from NZ. Dreading the answer I asked him how much he paid and I was stunned when he said $140. And that is from NZ

  • 12sp8s said on 2011-09-03 @ 16:41 NZDT: Report abusive post

    If you order from lovell-rugby.co.uk you can purchase and they will screenprint your name and number as well all for 65quid delivered to you in NZ within 5days.. They take off 10quid VAT (tax) but add it back on for postage.. What a deal.

  • rico7 said on 2011-09-02 @ 17:22 NZDT: Report abusive post

    There is a shelf full of All Black world cup Jerseys on sale for $98 NZD here in Qatar, so they had no problem shipping them here.

  • marcd said on 2011-09-02 @ 15:39 NZDT: Report abusive post

    I purchased a couple of jereys for myself and my son in the duty free store at Auckland airport before all the controversy - then purchased an anthem jacket from the Rugbystore.co.uk and got it delivered in 5 days - excellent service and would recommend them.

  • Damaha said on 2011-08-12 @ 13:11 NZDT: Report abusive post

    Surely if Adidas could not leverage of the ABs investment they would not be their sponsor? They would sponsor some other team and sport. They have it around the wrong way. The arrogant MD saying they need to charge more because they give us money. What nonsense. Its always all about them. What a myopic viewpoint. What they should be doing is giving NZ a further discount for the cost of hosting the world cup. What the NZ taxpayer is doing is putting the adidas brand to 4 billion viewers worldwide at a cost to the NZ tax payer after all revenue gathered circa 250mill. I would have thought discounting to the host nation would ensure an adidas and AB black out at games guaranteeing a return for their sponsorship buck

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