Mitchell & Ness has a new head honcho.
The sports apparel brand has named Eli Kumekpor as its next chief executive officer, effective immediately. He succeeds Kevin Wulff, who will be retiring on Friday.
Mitchell & Ness is part of the Fanatics Commerce business and Kumekpor will be based in Irvine, California, and report to Joe Bozich, Fanatics’ CEO of vertical brands.
Fanatics acquired Mitchell & Ness in 2022 alongside a strategic ownership group comprised of some of the most prominent names in sports, entertainment and business including Jay-Z, Maverick Carter, the D’Amelio family and others. Since that time, the brand has added new rights across several leagues, colleges and players associations, including a new league-wide licensing deal with the National Hockey League and an expanded headwear and throwback jersey catalog with Major League Baseball.
Kumekpor, a 20-plus year veteran, was most recently at Nike, where he served as global vice president and general manager of the Jordan Brand’s men’s business and led the strategy and execution for the brand’s multibillion-dollar omnichannel business. In addition, he served as co-chair of the Nike Black Employee Network and was a member of the Nike Black Community Commitment Taskforce.
“Eli has an incredible background that includes several years leading one of the world’s most progressive, beloved brands,” said Bozich, who believes Kumekpor can take the brand “to the next level as well as bring an elevated product mindset to everything Fanatics designs and makes. Eli will be focused on combining Mitchell & Ness’ momentum as a leading provider of high-quality vintage and lifestyle sports apparel with the power of the larger Fanatics platform and network, creating new avenues for significant growth for the brand.”
Prior to Nike, Kumekpor spent more than a decade in the healthcare industry at AstraZeneca, Alcon, Life Technologies and Cigna. He also spent several years at Deloitte Consulting specializing in M&A strategy.
“For generations, Mitchell & Ness has sat at an incredibly unique crossroads weaving sports, culture, lifestyle and fashion, and I couldn’t be more excited to be in this position to usher in the next era of such an iconic brand,” Kumekpor said. “I’ve long admired what Mitchell & Ness means to our culture at large, and I look forward to working closely with the team and the broader Fanatics organization to grow our presence and uncover new opportunities to deliver increased value to our fans and partners around the world.”
Mitchell & Ness was founded in Philadelphia in 1904 as a sporting goods company.