Umbro Worldwide Limited has appointed Galaxy Sports Inc as its exclusive licensee in North America.

The agreement replaces a similar arrangement between Umbro and Varsity Brands Inc, which is due to terminate on 30 November 2001. Transferring the Varsity component of the Umbro business to Galaxy is subject to the approval of the directors of both companies.

Galaxy's existing license covers the rights to sell, market and distribute Umbro branded products to approximately 185 operators of "big box" stores, major sporting goods chains and certain major department stores managing over 10,000 outlets in the US, and to all outlets in Canada.

Galaxy is confident the new license will build on Varsity's success, which in 2001 generated over C$16m in sales in the USA.

"This is a major step for Galaxy", stated Jack Gill, chairman of Galaxy. "Extrapolating our significant success in Canada into a market 10 to 12 times larger is consistent with our goal of becoming a major force in the growing North American action sports marketplace, which in the soccer sector alone offers a US$575m sales opportunity. Just the Varsity component will effectively double the size of our company, helping to achieve our goal of aggressive, but controlled growth".

Peter McGuigan, CEO of Umbro Worldwide Limited, which is based in Manchester, England, added: "During the past 15 years, Galaxy has successfully developed Umbro as the premier football brand in Canada, and additionally has successfully operated other sports and fashion businesses in the USA. We believe that the appointment of this experienced partner, who excels in customer service, will provide an ideal platform for further development of the brand. We are very excited about this opportunity and look forward to realising our vision of becoming the 'football authority'."

Distribution of Umbro soccer products in the USA will be moved to Galaxy's new distribution centre in Washington State in December.