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Apparel giant scores big with newest brand ambassador

BY Marianne Wilson

Japanese apparel retailer Uniqlo has landed an ace — a tennis ace to be more specific.

The retailer on Monday announced a partnership with tennis great Roger Federer, who will serve as Uniqlo’s newest global brand ambassador. The contract is reportedly worth $300 million over 10 years, one of the largest endorsement agreements ever, reported the New York Times.

Federer, whose long term Nike sponsorship expired in March, will represent Uniqlo at all tennis tournaments throughout the year, starting with The Championships, Wimbledon 2018, which began on July 2. Federer’s game wear for Wimbledon was designed at the Uniqlo Paris R&D Center. Instead of the classic polo shirt or crewneck style collar, the design reflected the athlete’s preference for a short stand-up collar “to emphasize a more sophisticated look both on and off court,” the retailer said.

The deal took the industry by surprise. Uniqlo is not a sports apparel company or an upscale brand. It is known for its very affordable, fashion basics.

“Mr. Federer is one of the greatest champions in history; my respect for him goes beyond sport,” said Tadashi Yanai, founder, chairman and CEO of Uniqlo parent Fast Retailing. “Our partnership will be about innovation on and off court. Uniqlo will help Mr. Federer continue taking tennis to new places, while exploring innovations in a number of areas including technology and design with him.”

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