Byline: Kristi Ellis

LOS ANGELES — Puma, the German footwear, apparel and accessories maker, has opened its first store in the U.S.
The company unveiled a 3,000-square-foot unit on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, Calif., last week. It showcases Puma’s full range of merchandise.
“It is so difficult to get the brand in front of a lot of people, and that is the reason we decided to open a store,” said James T. Gorman, president of Puma. “This will be the prototype for other retail stores that we plan to open around the world.”
Puma plans to open at least two more stores, including one in New York’s SoHo, by the end of next year.
There are also plans to open four outlet stores, in Orlando, Fla.; Wrentham, Mass., and two in California, in Barstow and Camarillo, by the end of next month. The company opened its first U.S. outlet store this month in St. Augustine, Fla.
First-year projected volume for the flagship store is about $2 million, according to Alden G. Sheets 3rd, president of Puma worldwide apparel and accessories.
The Santa Monica store has a loft-like atmosphere with exposed pipes, bricks and rafters, all in white. It carries women’s, men’s and children’s apparel, footwear and accessories.
“We target the BMX generation of skateboarders, surfers and snowboarders between the ages of 15 and 25. Santa Monica epitomizes our perfect core customer,” Sheets said. “We wanted to make the store a backdrop to what is being sold,” said Stephen H. Kanner, the architect who designed the store. “It ranges from traditional to modernist.”
There are frosted Plexiglas Puma signs, roll-out shelves and cushioned armchairs. At the rear of the store, there is a lighted image of the company’s logo — a leaping puma.
A $56 yellow tank tennis dress, the same style Serena Williams wore to win the U.S. Open this month, is a current bestseller at the flagship. Knit jersey warmup pants with a 7-centimeter stripe on the side at $45 and a $50 fleece zip-front sweatshirt are also popular.
Launched 18 months ago, Puma’s women’s apparel now accounts for 15 percent, or $4.5 million, of the company’s apparel business, Sheets said. With plans to build that business to 25 percent, Puma is introducing two new collections.
Its “pure sport” collection, a performance-oriented line of items in fleece or microfibers with special features such as moisture management, will also be offered in the store. Retail prices range from $30 for a Lycra spandex-blend top to $70 for a microfiber zip-front jacket.
The company also plans to offer collections customized for specific countries such as Japan and Australia to see how they sell in the U.S., Sheets said.