Sunderland enhances African ties with BFS Group deal

English Premier League football club Sunderland has announced that food service company BFS Group will become the club’s new principal partner and shirt sponsor from the 2013-14 season.

BFS Group is the main UK operation of the Bidvest Group, which is headquartered in South Africa and operates the largest global food service business outside North America.

Sunderland said the new partnership aims to build on its growing affiliation with the African continent, which commenced with its link up with the Invest in Africa initiative and recent collaboration with the Nelson Mandela Foundation. Invest in Africa had served as Sunderland’s principal partner during the 2012-13 season and the club will continue to work with the not-for-profit company – which promotes business links with Africa – in the future.

Sunderland’s partnership with BFS Group includes shirt sponsorship, perimeter advertising at the Stadium of Light and involvement from the players in local community events in the UK. The Bidvest Group also owns South African Premier Soccer League outfit Bidvest Wits and Sunderland will share coaching and business expertise with the club.

Sunderland chief executive Margaret Byrne said: “The group's credentials in terms of community support are akin to our own and this takes our club to a whole new level in terms of its international commercial activity. Whilst Sunderland will always be a club defined by its proud regional history and heritage, in order for the club to continue to move forward, building our reputation and presence internationally becomes a key focus.”