NZ gift-makers baulk at Cup fees

By Grant Bradley

Local souvenir makers say production costs and royalty demands make it uneconomic to take part. Photo / Natalie Slade
Local souvenir makers say production costs and royalty demands make it uneconomic to take part. Photo / Natalie Slade

Souvenir hunters wanting a slice of New Zealand to mark the Rugby World Cup will have to look hard in official stores.

Local clothing and keepsake-makers have baulked at hefty royalties demanded by Rugby World Cup Ltd and the stores are chock full of clothes and cuddly toys made in China, rugby balls made in India and ties made in England. Some tin badges and rimu boxes are made in New Zealand.

Buy NZ Made sales and marketing manager Trina Snow said Cup organisers and New Zealand rugby authorities did invite local firms to supply the official stores but few have.

"It costs manufacturers quite a lot to be part of that process. Through one thing or another, whether it was some companies not being chosen or couldn't afford to make the products for them, there is not a lot of New Zealand-made stuff in those shops."

One Rotorua gift and souvenir manufacturer said New Zealand producers had been burned badly by previous events such as the Lions tour in 2005.

Memories of New Zealand managing director Gary Coppard said the 20 per cent royalty demanded by Rugby World Cup was "over the top".

Suppliers were also obliged to pay royalties on stock which didn't sell.

"It's pie-in-the-sky stuff, there's no way of knowing how much you're going to sell."

Going on past rugby events "most tourists coming here are just going to pour brown stuff down their necks and bugger-all else".

Coppard said it was not only suppliers but also gift and souvenir store owners who were wary of promised spinoffs from the World Cup.

Those who did stock gear during the Lions tour were in some places undercut by mobile official shops.

"There were a lot of peeved-off shop keepers. This time they've kept away."

Auckland-based Sportfolio is the official apparel supplier and runs the official merchandise shops in Auckland, Wellington and Queenstown and online.

Its operations manager Greg Flynn said the New Zealand garment industry was in no shape to supply his shops and any clothing made here was more expensive than that made in China.

"The reality is there is no investment in the New Zealand industry. If we made things in New Zealand it would be more expensive and people would bleat about the price."

The first merchandise store opened at Auckland's Viaduct Harbour in September 2009, the earliest an official store had opened ahead of a World Cup.

"We're generally tracking a little bit ahead of where we expected to be," he said. "The market is driven by tourists. The big push locally is when we get closer to the tournament."

Buy NZ's Snow said the stance by organisers was the same as at previous tournaments.

"It's the same for any country they go into - they're not promoting the country, they're promoting the World Cup."

Some smaller New Zealand businesses remained slow to try to exploit the opportunities presented by the influx of tourists and business people in September and October.

"I think lots of them want to sell their products without having to go to the effort. There's been a lot going on as well with the Christchurch earthquake which has distracted people from the Rugby World Cup."

- NZ Herald

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