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banner Thursday, 15 February, 2001, 08:01 GMT
Kingfisher revels in MacArthur success
Kingfisher's name was projected to millions
Ellen MacArthur is not the only beneficiary of her remarkable performance in the Vendee Globe round-the-world yacht race, reports BBC Sport Online's business expert Peter Jones.

Ellen MacArthur has provided her sponsor Kingfisher with the kind of exposure of which public relations companies can only dream.

Industry insiders estimate that the outlay compares in terms of impact to the 20m annual fee that football's Premier League are believed to be asking from sponsors.

But perhaps the success is no more than the retail group deserved.

Ellen MacArthur's success has surpassed all expectations - she's given fantastic brand awareness which we could only have dreamt of at the outset
Jonathan Miller
Kingfisher head of PR
Two-and-a-half years ago, Kingfisher was one of only two companies that bothered to answer one of the 2,500 letters that MacArthur sent out appealing for financial backing.

She was just 20 at the time and inexperienced, but just 10 minutes speaking to her convinced the powers-that-be at retail group Kingfigher - whose portfolio includes British high street brands Woolworth and B&Q - that she was worth a 2m investment.

The rest, as they say, is history.

French profile

"Ellen MacArthur's success has surpassed all expectations," said Jonathan Miller, head of PR at Kingfisher.

"She's given fantastic brand awareness for our company which we could only have dreamt of at the outset.

"We had just bought a number of retail outlets in France and needed to project our image.

"Yachting and sailing over there is massive, and given the stature of the Vendee Globe round-the-world race, we saw this as a pretty good vehicle to increase our profile in France.

Ellen MacArthur
MacArthur: Gave motivational talks to staff
"You could say it's paid off for us!"

Apart from taking part in the Vendee Globe race, MacArthur gave motivation talks at company management conferences and was used as an example of what determination can achieve.

"She's a truly amazing young woman," Miller said.

"We could see that when we first met her, but to spend a hundred days at sea living the life that she had to is a tribute to her guts and determination."

Americas Cup bid

Apart from Kingfisher's management rubbing their collective hands together over the past week, there are others who hope to gain from the spin-offs of MacArthur's success.

Yachting's profile has received an enormous boost - far more so than from the Sydney Olympics, when Britain was the most successful nation on the water.

We must look at Ellen's success and the benefits it's had for Kingfisher
Peter Harrison
Americas Cup hopeful
Information technology entrepreneur Peter Harrison hopes it will help his bid to launch a British challenge for the Americas Cup in Auckland, New Zealand, in two years time.

Harrison's own personal fortune has helped kick-start the campaign, but he hopes the success of MacArthur and Kingfisher will help attract sponsors on board.

"The last challenge Britain made, in 1987, was woefully under-funded, so the battle for us now is to get sponsors interested," he said.

"We must look at Ellen's success and the benefits it's had for Kingfisher."

Links to more Vendee Globe stories are at the foot of the page.

Links to more Vendee Globe stories

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