Sportswear brand plans seven UK flagship shops to revive flagging image

Global sportswear brand Nike plans to open company-owned shops in a bid to rescue its UK image.

In the face of the brand being hit by discounted sales in sports shops and catalogues, Nike plans to open new concept stores in the UK to improve its image.

It presently only operates its flagship European store, Niketown, on Oxford Circus in London as a company-owned store.

It is now beginning a search for up to seven stores to act as new ‘flagships’ for the brand across the UK. It has signed for a store in central Manchester and is in negotiations for two other stores.

Nike pulled the plug on company-owned stores in the UK in 2006 and only operates from franchised stores, factory outlet stores and Niketown.

The search is being led by Victor Sye, head of property at Nike, who has begun talks with landlords and agents in the search for potential locations.

A Nike spokesman said: ‘Nike is opening several Nike Stores in the UK as part of a renewed focus on retail business, with the goal to be the most exciting and compelling brand at retail. Nike wants to surprise consumers and to innovate at retail, whether in a Niketown, a shop in shop, at, in a factory store, in the wholesale business or in a Nike brand store.’

The stores will feature concepts already established in the US, such as areas for shoppers to customise their own trainers and clothes.

Nike launched the NikeID concept in its Oxford Circus store before Christmas. It was first launched in its New York store in October last year.

Last month Nike bought Umbro in the UK in a bid to strengthen its position in the football market, where rival Adidas has been gaining ground.

Nike has already embarked on a company-owned factory outlet strategy in the UK and plans to grow this to up to 25 locations.

It has recently signed up at outlets, such as Land Securities and GML Estates’ the Outlet at Banbridge in Northern Ireland and LandSecs’ Galleria shopping centre in Hatfield.