German sportswear brand Puma has added China League Two club Sichuan Jiuniu to its portfolio of club deals for 2019.
The move follows the acquisition of Sichuan Jiuniu by City Football Group last week.
The Chinese third-tier club announced the agreement on Monday, backing up reports that Puma has lined up deals with a number of City Football Group-owned clubs this year.
City Football Group is a holding company that manages clubs under the ownership of Abu Dhabi United Group (ADUG).
ADUG is a private equity company owned by Emirati royal Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who has owned Man City since 2008.
SportBusiness Sponsorship confirmed in October that Manchester City, the group’s flagship club, will switch from Nike to Puma next season in a deal worth about £50m ($65.7m/€57.8m) per year. The deal is yet to be officially announced.
Puma’s deal with Manchester City will likely extend across multiple City Football Group clubs – except for Major League Soccer club New York City, which is bound by Major League Soccer’s central agreement with rival brand adidas.
As well as Manchester City and New York City, the group part-owns Melbourne City FC in Australia, Girona in Spain, Yokohama F. Marinos in Japan and Club Atlético Torque in Uruguay.
Of these, only Melbourne City currently has a deal with Nike alongside the City agreement, but it is expected that Girona, in the last year of a deal with Umbro that covers the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons, will also switch to Puma when the deal expires.
It is not yet clear whether Puma will replace adidas as kit supplier at Yokohama F. Marinos, or whether it will replace Uruguayan brand Luanvi at Club Atlético Torque.
City Football Group’s move into China is timely for Puma due to the growing importance of the Chinese market to the brand.
In Puma’s 2018 financial year, the Asia-Pacific region showed strong double-digit sales growth, driven primarily by China.
In terms of products, apparel was the main driver of sales.
Sales growth was further underpinned by around 400 store openings through Puma’s retail partners during 2018.