Interview with David Hamal (KRC Genk)

Merchandising for champions

It’s that time of the year again… the preparation. Better known as the sultry summer months when football players are sweating like crazy and faithful and expectant supporters are attending the first practice matches. Even if it’s only at a local amateur club, with a plastic cup in hand. Topfanz spoke with David Hamal, who is responsible for the fan shop and merchandise at Belgian national champion KRC Genk, in the run-up to the start of the competition.

David, what were your best-selling products in the past championship year?

David Hamal: “Of course there are the classics, which will always prevail in merchandising. Think of scarves, hats and caps. But in recent years we’ve expanded our product range further. Meanwhile, our collection includes more than 100 different items. Sometimes there are surprising items: just think of the luxury fleece blanket, the stadium cushion or the Pro Cup board game, which have been appreciated by our fans last year.”

How do you organize KRC Genk's merchandising?

David Hamal: “As a club, we prefer to bundle as many orders as possible with one supplier. This is the most efficient way of working. You may be able to save some eurocents by contacting manufacturers directly. But that doesn’t outweigh the fact that you are responsible for maintaining those (loose) contacts, the import and customs formalities… The ‘all-in-one’ approach works perfectly for us.”

“We started to work with Topfanz because we prefer to work with local companies. But that’s not the only reason, of course. I especially appreciate the close personal contact and the fast and correct dealing with questions. In addition, Topfanz constantly searches the global market for us, looking for new products and opportunities. The new tracks are briefed several times a year, often with samples in our house style. That’s how an idea becomes tangible.”

If you look back at the past few years, what moment do you remember best?

David Hamal: “We gave every supporter a scarf on entering the stadium at the 2018 Christmas match. That meant no less than 22,000 of them. Of course it was very important that the scarves were actually available on that very day. However, in that period there were frequent strikes at the Zaventem airport baggage handler. The consequence? The pallets were blocked in a warehouse and were not released for delivery. Thanks to the contacts of Topfanz, our scarves were given priority when they were delivered, which meant that they still arrived in the Luminus Arena on time.

If you were to compare Topfanz to a footballer, who would that be?

David Hamal: “The top striker from our championship team, Mbwana Ally Samatta comes to mind immediately. A hardworking player who always puts the interests of the team (read: customer) first. Someone who scores when he has to, and decides at lightning speed in defining phases.”