RugbyU: N.Z retailers cry foul over All Black jersey price

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The Independent Online

Sportsware giant Adidas has found itself locked in a dispute with New Zealand retailers in the lead up to this year's Rugby World Cup over the price of All Blacks' replica jerseys.

Adidas released the new jersey last month, expecting strong sales as rugby-mad New Zealand hosts the World Cup for the first time since 1987.

But New Zealand retailers said the public had shunned the high-tech tops because Adidas set the local retail price too high at NZ$220 ($180) and they were available for half that cost from online stores in the US and Britain.

Rebel Sport general manager Rod Duke, who heads the country's largest sportswear retailer, said Adidas has refused to lower the price, even though it was hurting sales.

"I don't think it's reasonable that the price difference between overseas online stores and the local New Zealand stores should be as vast," he told Radio New Zealand.

"The difference between the two prices is just ridiculous."

Duke said Rebel Sport had decided to drop the price of the jersey to NZ$170 to remedy the "intolerable" situation.

Another retailer, Sportsworld, slashed the price to about NZ$125, which it said meant it was taking a loss on every jersey it sold.

Prime Minister John Key also weighed into the dispute, saying Adidas needed "to determine whether their actions are in the best interests of the country".

"I'd like to think New Zealand consumers get a fair deal and that they're not being taken advantage of just because they are here in New Zealand," he told reporters.

"So that's something for them to reflect on, but in the end it's a commercial decision for Adidas."

Adidas New Zealand general manager David Huggett said he was comfortable with the price and felt it was reasonable in the local market.

"Larger retail markets like the UK and US often have lower retail cost structures," he said.

Huggett said the price also reflected the contribution Adidas made to New Zealand rugby.

"We invest millions of dollars in Kiwi rugby from grassroots through to the All Blacks," he said.

International Rugby Board chief Mike Miller warned last month that price gouging during the September 9-October 23 tournament had the potential to tarnish New Zealand's reputation as a tourist destination.