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New Delhi: Global sports brand Puma has signed a three-year partnership with Indian Premier League (IPL) team franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore. Puma will be the official kit partner of the team from the upcoming 14th edition of the tournament, scheduled to start from 9 April.

It also makes Puma the only global sports brand to be associated with IPL 2021.

Puma already has an on-going association with RCB team captain, Virat Kohli. Earlier, it had sponsored IPL teams like Rajasthan Royals, Deccan Chargers (dissolved in 2012) and Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) during the initial years of T20 league. It is now returning to IPL after almost a decade.

"At that point of time, IPL wasn't lucrative from a merchandising point. So, we chose to back players like Sourav Ganguly and Yuvraj Singh and more recently Virat Kohli and KL Rahul," said Abhishek Ganguly, managing director, Puma India and Southeast Asia. "Over the years, as the brand and distribution network grew, we became a market leader and IPL became a mature and strong property. We felt this is the right time to get back to IPL and build on the sports merchandising opportunity where the market size is doubling every two to three years.

Puma will have exclusive retailing rights to RCB’s take down and replica jerseys, adding pan-India merchandise reach for the franchise across retail and e-commerce channels. The collection, which will be launched on 1 April, will also includes a fanwear range of polo tees, shorts, pants, flip-flops and caps.

"We will have a presence on the pitch, team training and travel when it comes to merchandise. It is also a big opportunity to engage RCB fans so we will have digital and e-commerce engagements. Hopefully, when fans return to stadiums next year we will be looking forward to leverage the on ground and in stadia activations," added Ganguly.

RCB merchandise will be available at all Puma stores, on puma.com, RCB website, mobile app and the RCB Bar & Café from the first week of April. Puma will also launch advertising campaigns across media platforms.

Rajesh V Menon, vice-president & head of Royal Challengers Bangalore, said, “Both RCB and Puma have common sensibilities and have built on a strong lifestyle proposition. We are positive that with Puma’s marketing capabilities, fans will have access to not only great merchandise but also some very interesting activations and engagements through the IPL season and beyond."

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