Trends & Features

Fit for purpose

For the second time in its 119-year history, Reebok has updated its logo, unveiling the new Reebok Delta brand in a move designed to reposition it towards the sports fitness category. The launch of stores aimed at fitness enthusiasts complements this move.

In the UK Reebok launched its first fitness hub last September in London’s Covent Garden, one of six stores to open within a short period of time during 2013. The outlets are fitted out to look like gyms, with fixtures that replicate gym equipment such as agility rings and plyometric jump boxes as seating.

Staff are experienced fitness professionals and the stores also offer free workout classes for customers. Via its FitHub concept, Reebok hopes to attract a broad range of customers interested in personal fitness.

Over the last two years Reebok has suffered a double digit sales decline in the UK sports footwear and apparel market, according to NPD’s Online Consumer Panel, but this new strategy could reinvigorate the brand and help adidas – which owns Reebok – compete with Nike, the current market leader in the fitness category.

The fitness category has grown over the past three years. Combined total sales of gym apparel and footwear in Great Britain for the 12 months to December 2013 was in the region of £340 million, a three per cent increase compared to 2012, according to NPD’s Online Consumer Panel.

However, Reebok’s increased focus on the fitness category is not the only change in the sector.

In the premium market, Lululemon, which owns around 200 stores worldwide, but currently operates primarily in North America and Australia, is showing an interest in the UK market.

The Canadian sportswear retailer, which specialises in yoga, running and workout apparel, opened its first shop in this country – also in Covent Garden – at the end of March. Its first store in Europe, Lululemon plans to open more outlets in this country. It will compete against the British retailer Sweaty Betty, which owns over 30 stores in the UK and, interestingly, began opening shops on the other side of the Atlantic in 2013.

The demand for more fashionable workout gear is increasing. People want their items to be comfortable and also to look good. However, yoga pants and sweats are no longer restricted to the confines of the gym.

Many consumers are mixing their workout gear with more formal clothes and high street fashion is increasingly looking like athletic apparel. Some designers collaborate with sportswear manufacturers in order to bring their own luxury touches to athletic footwear and apparel. For example, Stella McCartney teamed up with adidas in 2004 and to this day enjoys a successful partnership with the German manufacturer.

More recently, high street fashion retailers have seen activewear as an opportunity to grow their businesses. Gap has introduced its own workout line called GapFit, while at the beginning of the year Primark launched a marketing campaign to raise awareness of its extended workout range, including two new lines by Admiral and Technolayer.

H&M unveiled a sportswear collection this year and will provide greater choice and styles for consumers. The retailer collaborated with Sweden’s Olympic team to create its collection, highlighting to consumers that its clothes are not only fashionable, but functional too.

Clothing specialists are intensifying the competition in the sports market and benefit from a competitive advantage in terms of pricing. However, it will be interesting to see if a retailer like H&M, which is attempting to combine performance with fashion, will gain legitimacy and challenge manufacturers such as Nike and adidas when it comes to performance products.

The NPD Group monitors the sales of sports footwear and apparel in many countries around the world. For more information contact The NPD Group sports team on 01932 355580 or visit

Picture courtesy of Reebok.

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