COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Top soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo's pose in underwear has helped open up dozens of export markets for Danish manufacturer JBS Textile Group and the company is hoping to build on that success with a range of shirts, its chief executive said.
JBS teamed up with Ronaldo, the Real Madrid striker who ranks among the world's best-paid soccer players, last November to launch a product line sold under the CR7 brand and conceived by New York-based fashion designer Richard Chai, who has also worked for brands such as Donna Karan and Marc Jacobs.
Now the 75 year-old Jutland company is branching out from its traditional brightly coloured underwear lines with a range of fitted shirts also promoted under the CR7 brand, taken from his Real Madrid shirt number, and designed by Chai.
Chief Executive Michael Alstrup told Reuters the Ronaldo partnership, exploited via sultry images of the player on billboards and magazine adverts, had already extended JBS's presence globally.
"From November 1 last year we have grown from having five export countries to 54 countries in which we now have distribution channels. JBS and Ronaldo are therefore trying to strengthen the brand with the line of shirts," Alstrup said on Monday.
"It has been very solid growth for a company as ours and next year is about consolidation and exploring our many new export markets to see which ones have the best opportunities and need most focus," Alstrup said.
The unlisted company has a history of sponsoring sport teams and athletes, signing tennis star Caroline Wozniacki in 2012 for its women's underwear line.
Alstrup declined to say how much JBS, which earned around 70 million Danish crowns (8 million pounds) in the 2012-2013 financial year, paid Ronaldo or what kind of revenue boost it expects from their collaboration.
(Reporting by Annabella Pultz Nielsen; Editing by David Holmes)