ITOCHU Announces Acquisition of Exclusive Import/Distribution Rights and Master License Rights for UK Rugby Brand Rhino Rugby

November 16, 2016

ITOCHU Corporation (headquartered in Minato-ku, Tokyo; Masahiro Okafuji, President & CEO; hereinafter “ITOCHU”) announced today that it has signed an agreement to secure the exclusive import/distribution rights and master license rights for the areas of apparel and fashion goods of Rhino Rugby (hereinafter “Rhino”), a rugby brand originating in the UK, in the Japanese market.

The Rhino brand was created in the UK in 1984 by Tim Francis, who invented the world’s first mass-produced scrum machine in the 1970s. As an official supplier, the brand has since been contributing to the outstanding performances of the athletes of numerous rugby teams including those representing Scotland, South Africa, France, Wales, New Zealand and Australia, as well as the England national team and professional clubs. It continues to support athletes as an official supplier through such efforts as the supply of practice machines to all participating teams, including the Japan national team, at the 2015 Rugby World Cup (hereinafter “RWC”) in the UK.

Rugby is gaining increasing popularity in the Japanese market, not only as a “sport to play” but also as a “sport to watch” thanks to the outstanding performances of the Japan national team at the recent RWC and Rio Olympics. Due to growing interest in the upcoming 2019 RWC (to be held in Japan) and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, the number of people who play the sport and its supporters is expected to increase further going forward. In light of this situation, the company has been promoting the sale of its training goods through Rhino-Powa Japan Inc. (hereinafter “Rhino Japan”) since 2015 after gaining a foothold in the Japanese market by providing one complete set of training tools to the Japan national team in 2014. In addition, the company has decided to promote its apparel and fashion goods through ITOCHU.

Moving forward, the UK headquarters, Rhino Japan and ITOCHU together with the support of the Department for International Trade of the British Embassy in Japan, will draw on the strengths and experience of each of the three companies and increase the product portfolio that will be marketed in Japan, centering on spectator wear, supporter goods and athletic wear. Through these efforts, the three companies aim to increase the recognition of Rhino, a brand originating in the UK, the home of rugby, and achieve sales of 2.0 billion yen on a retail price basis by 2020.

Comments on the Rhino brand

Mr. Eddie Jones (current head coach of the England national rugby team and former head coach of the Japan national rugby team)

“We used a variety of technical equipment provided by Rhino when the Japan national team was making preparations for the last year’s World Cup. They were also very useful in enabling the England national team to accomplish a Grand Slam in the Six Nations Championship this year.”

Japan national team for the 2015 Rugby World Cup

Japan national team for the 2015 Rugby World Cup

©JRFU 2014