By  on August 12, 2008

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Looking to test retail expansion in the U.S., Reebok unveiled a fresh concept Thursday in Patriot Place, a new $1.5 billion retail complex flanking Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots.

“We’ve approached full-priced retail cautiously,” said Anderson McNeill, Reebok’s head of global retail, who oversees 2,500 stores abroad — both full-price and outlet — and 150 U.S. outlet stores. “We’re actively putting together a strategy [for rollout], but we’re not looking at specific centers yet.”

He declined to give a sales projection for the store.

The 5,200-square-foot full-price unit is unique for Reebok, which operates outlet stores, but primarily wholesales in the U.S. through sporting goods and department stores and specialty boutiques. The $3.2 billion brand’s other full-price U.S. store, in Manhattan, is called NHL Powered by Reebok and is an offshoot of the brand’s sponsorship of professional hockey.

In contrast, the Patriot Place store aims to reach women and create brand buzz with a broad assortment.

Although it’s also loaded with products for men, the store’s women’s offering is at the front, starting with pink ribbon breast cancer awareness merchandise. Women’s running apparel and a kiosk featuring colorful dumbbells, yoga mats and core balls sit behind the breast cancer display. To the right of the entry, a row of mannequins show different fits of pants and athletic bra tops. Reebok has been working to build a following for its core women’s gym line. Lululemon, among other competitors, has successfully marketed sport bottoms like denim, with attention to different fits, fabrics and rises.

“We have a big fit initiative,” McNeill said. “We’re seeing a return to the short bra top. Every quarter we’ll update the colors.”

The shop has a gymlike feel, with a polished concrete floor, an exposed duct ceiling painted battleship gray and a sporty blue perimeter stripe high up on the walls. There’s also a ceiling-suspended section of blue metal, like a roadway, that McNeill calls a “brand bridge.” It runs diagonally from the doorway to the footwear wall, where the company has assembled its most comprehensive U.S. footwear presentation, about 300 stockkeeping units in total.

The Reebok store opens in the second retail phase of Patriot Place, which has 1.3 million square feet of retail space, a 500-seat concert hall and the Patriots Hall of Fame. Other tenants opening within the month include Victoria’s Secret and Hollister.

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