New Era Cap has all Major League bases covered -- or at least the heads above them. The company makes the uniform caps of every Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball, as well as uniforms worn by high school baseball players. It boasts a portfolio of more than 200 licenses, including the 59FIFTY fitted cap. New Era makes 35-plus million licensed and nonlicensed caps a year for sale to celebrities and consumers alike through its flagship stores and retailers, such as Dick's in the US, and Aeon in Japan. New Era has offices in Canada, Brazil, Europe, Hong Kong, and Japan, and a plant in the US. Founded in 1920, New Era Cap is owned and led by the Koch family, now in its fourth generation of management.
New Era cap makes officially licensed apparel at its plant in Derby, New York. The company also has an increasing retail presence generated through 13 stores, seven of which are located in North America, and four in Europe. The company's first store opened in New York City in mid-2006.
The squeeze by professional sports leagues on price and profits of "official" merchandise coupled with a slowdown in consumer spending forced the company to shutter two of its three plants and consolidate manufacturing at its facility in Derby, New York. A hat factory in Demopolis, Alabama, closed in 2010, following a shutdown of its Jackson, Alabama plant.
The closures came as New Era attempted to expand its retail and private-label lines beyond headwear with the acquisition of Miami-based 5th & Ocean in 2009. The apparel company manufactures men's, women's, and kids' apparel for major US sports leagues, including Major League Baseball, and consumer retailers, such as Victoria's Secret.
New Era's operations include an exclusive marketing and distribution partnership with Collegiate Pacific, referred to as the New Era Team Sports Division. Run by Collegiate Pacific, the division provides marketing and order processing expertise to customers in the institutional and sporting goods markets.
Geographically, New Era caps are sold in 40 countries worldwide. Expansion in Asia, Europe, and other international markets is supported by New Era Cap's contract with Hong Kong-based Mainland Headwear. Under the agreement, Mainland Headwear manufactures products for the company. In late 2010 New Era also acquired a stake in Brazil-based MARC4, which designs, distributes, and markets licensed apparel, hats, and footwear in the country. New Era has relied on MARC4 to be its official distributor in Brazil since 2006.
With the company's premium caps selling for between $32 and $36, the deep recession in the US took a toll on sales. New Era produced about six million caps in 2009, down from 11 million in 2008. The company, however, is on the rebound thanks to a new five-year deal with the National Football League to sell NFL caps, started in spring 2012. New Era is among seven apparel partners, along with Nike and Under Armour, the NFL picked. The contract marks a victory over Reebok, the adidas AG-owned company that had a lock on the NFL apparel and headwear contract for a decade. New Era anticipates the exposure that the NFL will give their products will translate to sales in other categories, which include baseball, college, and lifestyle merchandise.
Among other deals, New Era has worked with several celebrities, such as filmmaker Spike Lee, to produce specialty caps. Named the Spike Lee Joint, the hat collection debuted in 2008 and commemorates the history of the New York Yankees. The company's New York Yankees cap is its most popular team logo.