2018 Top 50 Promotional Products Suppliers: Stats, Trends and Analysis
If things were looking good for distributors in 2017, they were even better for promotional products suppliers. While our Top 50 distributors totaled just over $5 billion in promotional products sales last year, the 2018 Top 50 Suppliers totaled $5.3 billion, besting their $4.6 billion 2016 total by a full $690 million (a 14.9 percent increase). The raw numbers would be higher, too, if they included sales figures for some major suppliers that declined to report sales numbers.
A number of key mergers and acquisitions impacted the final list. Prime Line, No. 8 last year, merged with alphabroder in Dec. 2017, solidifying alphabroder's status as perennial No. 1 at more than twice the 2017 revenue of the next closest supplier. Chocolate Inn/Taylor & Grant acquired Lanco in Dec. 2017 and Private Label Executive Gifts in Feb. 2017, contributing to a healthy 88 percent year-over-year revenue increase for the supplier. SnugZ USA acquired Soul Kix, a custom printed shoe company, in Jan. 2017, helping SnugZ rise four spots to No. 26 overall. HUB Promotional Group acquired Beacon Promotions in Jan. 2017, but the two companies submitted separate revenue numbers for this year's list. Had they submitted joint revenue numbers, the pair would have ranked No. 11 overall. (HUB made several additional acquisitions in 2018 that will impact next year's list.)
Several other suppliers posted notable revenue increases from 2016 to 2017. iClick reported an astonishing 275 percent increase, rising from $14.2 million to $53.3 million and jumping 29 spots in the rankings. S&S Activewear increased sales 76 percent from $275 million to $485 million, while Mid-Nite Snax (50 percent), Tri-Mountain/Mountain Gear Corp (24.5 percent) and Ariel Premium Supply (23.8 percent) also posted sizable revenue gains by percentage. Overall, 39 of the Top 50 suppliers reported year-over-year revenue increases.
Check out the full 2018 Top 50 Suppliers list here. In the meantime, here are some other fun stats and trends we saw in our analysis:
• Sixteen U.S. states and one Canadian province (Quebec) were represented on the 2018 Top 50 Suppliers list, with all four regions of the U.S. serving as headquarters to at least one supplier. The midwest had the most states represented with seven, while the northeast had four states, the west three and the south two.
• California led all states with nine promotional products suppliers calling it home, while New York had seven and Pennsylvania five. Six other states had three suppliers each. Texas, Kansas and Missouri had two suppliers apiece. Michigan, Tennessee, New Jersey and Utah each had one supplier on the list.
• Four states appeared twice each in the top 10. Pennsylvania was home to suppliers No. 1 and No. 2, Florida held spots No. 4 and No. 5, Ohio claimed spots No. 6 and No. 7, and California held spots No. 8 and No. 10. Each of Ohio's three largest cities—Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus—was represented in the Top 50.
• In 2017, the Top 50 promotional products suppliers employed nearly 19,000 people at 132 locations. Four suppliers had employee counts of 1,000 or greater, while 24 other suppliers had employee counts of 250 or greater. The smallest number of employees for any Top 50 supplier was Fossa Apparel (No. 49) with 28.
• Several major suppliers chose not to submit revenue numbers for this year. As noted on the list, we do not estimate revenue for suppliers that don't disclose sales, but we do list notable suppliers as honorable mentions. Had they appeared on the list, suppliers such as SanMar, Staton Corporate & Casual, Gildan Activewear, The Magnet Group, ETS Express Inc. and Sunscope Group of Companies would likely have placed in the top 15.