The England and Wales Cricket Board today announced Specsavers will become the new title sponsor of the County Championship.
The four-year deal will give Specsavers full naming and branding rights around the historic competition which will enter its 126th season in April – with current County Champions Yorkshire bidding to win their third successive title.
The new agreement strengthens Specsavers’ relationship with county cricket as the eye-wear chain has been ECB’s Official Optometry and Hearing partner, and Principal Partner of the Association of Cricket Officials (ACO) since 2014.
The Specsavers brand currently features on clothing worn by umpires officiating in all three county competitions and on clothing worn by ACO-appointed umpires in a range of club and junior cricket competitions nationwide.
Specsavers’ appointment as County Championship title sponsor is the third commercial agreement concluded by ECB this year.
ECB recently agreed a new five-year partnership with Greene King to be the ‘Official Beer of England cricket’ and Yorkshire Tea has also renewed an agreement to be the ‘Official Brew of England cricket’ for a further three years.
ECB Commercial Director Sanjay Patel said: “We’re very pleased to have agreed a four-year deal with Specsavers after holding discussions with several interested parties about this sponsorship package.
“The County Championship continues to enjoy a strong following and the competition’s geographical spread across 18 different counties will help Specsavers gain wider brand exposure at both regional and national level.
“Our commercial family continues to expand and today’s announcement highlights once again that cricket is an attractive property to a wide range of different brands and businesses.”
Specsavers Marketing Director Richard Holmes said: ‘“This sponsorship builds on our existing sporting pledge to help the experts to see.
"We’re delighted with the levels of exposure we have achieved through our existing relationship with umpires and this is a great way for us to reach out to an even bigger audience of cricket fans nationwide and be a part of one of the game’s most famous and best-loved competitions."
Specsavers is a partnership of almost 2,000 locally-run businesses throughout the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Spain, Australia and New Zealand, all committed to delivering high quality, affordable optical and hearing care in the communities they serve.
Each store is part-owned and managed by its own joint venture partners who are supported by key specialists in support offices that provide a range of services including marketing, accounting, recruitment, IT and wholesaling, among others.
More than 28 million customers used Specsavers in 2015 and the partnership had a turnover of more than £2 billion. More than one in three people who wear glasses in the UK buy them from Specsavers.
Of its 17.3m customers in the UK, 60% are from the NHS and the company is the largest provider of free NHS digital hearing aids.
Specsavers also supports several UK charities including Guide Dogs, Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, Sound Seekers, the road safety charity Brake, the anti-bullying charity Kidscape and Vision Aid Overseas, for whom stores have raised enough funds to build a school of optometry in Zambia and open eyecare outreach clinics in much of the country.