By  on June 12, 2007

NEW YORK — Nike is said to be closing in on a lease for a 3,200-square-foot concept store at 21 Mercer Street in lower Manhattan.

Mercer Street between Howard Street and Broome Street in SoHo — where the Nike site is located — is an area gaining favor with the fashion crowd. Vivienne Tam is to open a store this summer at 40 Mercer Street. Other fashion tenants on the same stretch of Mercer Street include Yohji Yamamoto and Ted Baker.

Nike spokesman Alan Marks said he couldn';t comment on lease negotiations. However, he said, "We are developing a new Nike retail concept. We expect to open the first one in 2008. We';re currently in discussions with top mall developers and landlords around the country."

Expanding retail business is a key part of Nike';s growth strategy through 2011. This includes segmenting and realigning the athletic giant';s business across six core areas: basketball, running, women';s training, men';s training, soccer and sports culture.

"There will be a running retail concept, a soccer retail concept and retail concepts aligned with the consumer categories we';ve [identified]," Marks said.

Nike plans to open 50 concept stores ranging from 5,000 square feet to 7,000 square feet during the next three years. The largest store format will represent all six categories, Marks said.

The company is working with key retail partners to develop specific concepts, he added. In May, Nike announced that, in partnership with Foot Locker, it would open a House of Hoops basketball concept store next year in an existing Foot Locker unit on 125th Street in Harlem.

"It reflects part of our consumer products'; category focus," Marks said. The company has plans for 50 additional House of Hoops units, which will celebrate basketball culture with apparel and equipment, as well as shoes from Nike, Brand Jordan and Converse.

"We';re bringing a more integrated brand management approach to a sports category," Marks said. "We now primarily have the Niketown retail concept. This will be a very differentiated retail approach. We need to bring more energy to the U.S. retail marketplace."

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