Fanatics has hired Nike‘s corporate audit and chief risk officer, Michener Chandlee, who’s been with the athletic apparel giant for more than a decade, to become its chief financial officer, succeeding Lauren Cooks Levitan, CNBC has learned.
Cooks Levitan is leaving to join San Francisco-based wholesale marketplace Faire.
Chandlee’s hiring comes as Fanatics is targeting sales of more than $2.5 billion this year, up from $2.2 billion in 2018.
The sports merchandise company, valued at $4.5 billion, was launched by Michael Rubin in 2011. It has raised $1.7 billion to date, which includes backing from SoftBank Group’s Vision fund.
Fanatics has been expanding its reach by creating exclusive merchandise for Walmart and Kohl’s. The company serves as the official online store for hundreds of sports teams and leagues globally, including dozens within the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL. Fanatics says it plans to do more tie-ups with major retailers in the future, which is part of its broader growth strategy.
“[Chandlee] is well-versed in the sports apparel industry and understands the tremendous power of product, brand and technology – giving him the ideal skill set and experience to lead our finance organization as we continue to rapidly scale our vertical, on-demand model globally,” Fanatics CEO Doug Mack said in a statement.
Chandlee had been with Nike since 2001, holding various roles, including CFO of Nike’s Golf division, vice president and CFO of Nike’s North America business, vice president and CFO of Nike’s global marketplace, and most recently as its corporate audit and chief risk officer. He starts at Fanatics on Monday.
Nike declined CNBC’s request for comment on Chandlee’s successor.
The CFO announcement from Fanatics comes as the company is bulking up with acquisitions of competitors including FansEdge and Majestic, and is taking a stake in hats retailer Lids. Its business has been described by analysts as somewhat “Amazon-proof” because it has so many exclusive deals with leagues and teams.
Beginning in 2020, for example, anything sold at retail for both MLB and the NFL with a Nike swoosh on it will be made and distributed by Fanatics. Nike is the official jersey supplier of the NFL and is set to become the official jersey partner of MLB next season. For the NBA and NHL, Fanatics continues to make replica jerseys and fan gear with its logo on those, and it operates both the NBA’s and NHL’s stores in New York.
Fanatics was named to CNBC’s annual Disruptor 50 list earlier this year, moving up to the 25th spot from 45th in 2018.
When asked about a potential IPO, which some have speculated is on the horizon, a Fanatics spokesperson said: “We’re focused on building a great company and growing the industry globally through innovation and continued investment in a vertical commerce model that best services the growing real-time expectations of fans.”