The NBA is opening its first store in the U.K., a collaboration with Fanatics that reflects the league’s continued growth in overseas markets.
The two-story shop, in London’s trendy Soho neighborhood, will open Friday. The NBA and Fanatics also plan to open another three international stores in the next 18 months.
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There are roughly 6.3 million NBA fans in the U.K., according to Nielsen, and from a merchandise perspective, the U.K. is the league’s second-largest European market behind France.
“U.K. fans are true connoisseurs of the game,” Steve Griffiths, director of global partnerships for the NBA in Europe, said in a statement. “Through our partnership with Fanatics, fans of all ages will be able to celebrate their love of the NBA with an extensive range of official and exclusive merchandise.”
In the same way that European soccer clubs see the U.S. as a growth market, American leagues and teams are looking abroad to grow their fanbase and their revenue. Many focus on the NBA’s multi-billion-dollar opportunity in China, but the league now has games and programming available in 215 countries and merchandise for sales in more than 100.
The league has been playing preseason games in the U.K. since 1993, when a young Shaquille O’Neal led the Orlando Magic against the Atlanta Hawks. The NBA has since played nine regular season games in London.
Lids, which is partly owned by Fanatics, will operate the store, a similar arrangement to Paris Saint-Germain’s new Los Angeles shop. While Fanatics does operate in-venue shops for many of its partners, it often turns to Lids to handle bigger standalone stores. (The next three overseas NBA/Fanatics shops will also be operated by Lids).
This is just the second official NBA store in Europe, joining a Milan outpost that opened in 2018. The league also has shops in Brazil, China, Mexico and Qatar.