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Aussie custom sportswear startup kicking goals

Australian custom sportswear company, ONTHEGO (OTG), has reached a deal to supply Sheffield Wednesday, a professional club in the second tier of the English football league, becoming the first Australian company to supply an English football team.

The e-commerce startup will supply the club’s full technical apparel and merchandise on and off-field with brand ELEV8. The 70,000 unit range includes player’s head-to-toe gear for home and away, training and travel, fan retail merchandise and gear for officials and staff.

England’s third oldest professional association football club, Sheffield Wednesday marks its 150th anniversary this year, but until OTG stepped in, the club was in danger of starting the season bare-chested after its manufacturer tried to alter the terms of their deal in May.

Sheffield Wednesday COO Joe Palmer had no option but to look elsewhere. Despite the three-month setback, OTG delivered the new home and away strips just days before the start of the new season. The third kit is set to launch on the first Sunday of September.

OTG founder and CEO Mick Spencer said the company’s ability to work to the club’s large requirements and ambitions, plus offer personalised ranges designed by fans, was material in the supply.

The Sheffield deal is the latest in a string of wins for the custom sportswear startup, which recently clinched a five-year multi-million exclusive contract with Hockey Australia to kit out the Kookaburras and Hockeyroos, as well as the indoor and masters teams, staff and officials.

According to OTG, it has seen 130 per cent growth in FY17, with 300 per cent year-on-year growth in June and 250 per cent year-on-year growth in May. In July, the company came close to eclipsing its numbers from the whole of FY16 in a single month.

It now has close to 80,000 units in production and 10,000 customers from teams, clubs and groups, including the NRL, AFL, World Rugby, Cricket Australia, Ironman and Cricket NSW.

Best known for his 2016 appearance on Shark Tank Australia, when he received $600,000 from three judges, Spencer said his mission is to build a platform that enables a high level of personalisation, no matter the size of the order or location of the customer.

“Our industry has not shifted a lot in the past 10 to 20 years, yet the consumer, athlete and fan has. This requires companies to have a more flexible and nimble supply chain, speed of delivery and high levels of customisation, so that when teams have huge requirements, and they need it fast, it can be done without hiccups,” he said.

“Teams and clubs now do not have three or six months to wait for orders, they get their athlete feedback, sponsor notifications and requirements in just a matter of weeks. Sometimes, tens of thousands of items,” he added.

“The team that we’re building, the system we’re building, the supply chain integrations we have, and the testimonies of existing customers have all helped us secure more and more deals.”

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