Under Armour stores slated for this calendar year

underarmourLong gestating plans by global sports apparel and footwear retailer, Under Armour, to open standalone stores in Australia are expected to be realised this calendar year, according to Erica Berchtold of Super Retail Group.

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Berchtold, managing director of Rebel Sport, which has exclusive distribution rights for Under Armour in Australia, said that while plans for standalone Under Armour stores first surfaced 12 months ago and will “ideally and probably” come to fruition in 2016, the Baltimore-headquartered brand won’t compromise on location merely for the sake of entering the market.

Super Retail Group will support Under Armour, now the second biggest sportswear brand in the US behind Nike, in establishing a retail presence in Australia, but Berchtold said the brand won’t open its doors until it gets, “the right store, in the right centre, at the right price”.

“Under Armour is not a business that is looking to go and open stores just for the sake of opening stores,” according to Berchtold. “They’re not going out and just looking to have a big cash grab at some sales opportunity. It would be counter-intuitive to what they’ve built. They’ll do it very selectively, very specifically, and ensure that it creates a brand experience for the customer.”

Inside Retail Weekly understands that Under Armour is seeking specific positions in premium centres in capital cities, including the likes of Westfield Sydney.

According to Berchtold, the partnership between Super Retail Group/Rebel Sport and Under Armour, which dates back to 2013, is unique for both parties but is “working well”.

“From the commencement of our partnership with them, we’ve both recognised that they’re going to need standalone stores,” Berchtold told Inside Retail Weekly. “And we’ve been supportive of that because it will help build the brand equity in the Australia marketplace.”

“So we actually see standalone Under Armour stores as something that’s going to contribute to a higher overall brand penetration in this market and higher overall sales. We don’t see it as cannibalistic to our stores. You’ve got to look at what’s right for the customer and what’s right for the brand. And the right thing for the brand is that they have some standalone stores.”

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Downplaying the suggestion that suppliers launching standalone stores cannibalises the market for other retailers, Berchtold said the launch of standalone Under Armour stores could lead to more Under Armour being ranged in Rebel Sport stores.

“They’ll bring some product into their standalone stores, which will then give us a bit of confidence to trial them in some of our top stores as well,” she said.

“We’ve spent a couple of years with them testing out product ranges and how wide and deep we need to go. And you’ll see us continue to add extra product ranges to our mix. We haven’t even put their full product offerings into this marketplace. We’ve been testing different categories and ranges.”

Super Retail Group is currently working with Under Armour on how it can best partner with the brand on the roll out of its standalone stores. While details are still being finalised, Berchtold said that could see Super Retail Group running some of the Under Armour stores itself.

“There’s some locations where we may run stores for them because the scale of our business will actually make those stores more profitable,” she said. “And there may be some locations where they might want to look at running a store.

“We might give them feedback on what some of the nuances are in this marketplace, but we’re not going to sit there and say, ‘this is the way it has to be’. We’ll work together on all of that. One thing that we will do is play a role in helping them test different things, and we’ll work together closely in doing that.”

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