PARIS — Reebok is stepping up its efforts to woo the female customer.
The sporting goods brand owned by Adidas has launched its first FitHub in Paris, a new space offering products at the crossroads between fitness and fashion, and dedicated entirely to women.
“The concept is unique in France. It’s the first time that we offer fashion and sports together,” said Sandrine Retailleau, Reebok’s brand director for France and Western Europe, about the 900-square-foot unit, which is on the fourth floor of Galeries Lafayette.
Spanning footwear, apparel and accessories, the offering has been specifically tailored to the changes in the lifestyle of modern women, according to the executive.
It is divided into several thematic areas: functional and cross-training, including combat, the fastest growing business within that unit; studio, which comprises yoga and dance, and running.
“Women today pursue at least two or three different fitness activities, and they like to mix and match technical products with fashion, which is why we have opted for a holistic, cross-merchandising approach,” she explained, pointing to a range of printed legwear, which can be worn in the gym as well as on the street and which counts among the brand’s key sellers next to sports bras.
The repositioning was critical for Reebok, said Retailleau. “Fitness is our heritage, and we have strong roots within the female audience. Reebok was the first brand to design a sneaker specifically for women — the Freestyle, a classic leather shoe launched in 1982, which is still our bestseller,” she noted, adding: “Classic leather is coming back, by the way — not only in France but across Western Europe.”
Since the brand refocused on fitness some four years ago, all categories have been experiencing fast growth, noted Retailleau, with apparel leading the pack, as the brand has logged nine consecutive quarters of growth worldwide.
Reebok’s goal is to have a 50-50 business split between men and women by 2020, up 10 percent from currently 40 percent women’s worldwide.
More shops-in-shop in key cities, including Paris, London, Berlin, Milan and Barcelona are in the pipeline. “We want to be a global brand and create strong impact where it matters. In Western Europe alone we are going to double the number of hard shops-in-shop featuring the FitHub concept during next year,” Retailleau revealed.
Last March, Reebok’s president Matt O’Toole conceded that the brand’s turnaround took “too long,” but that “the work was done” and that it was time to capitalize on the 76-billion-euro, or $87.4 billion, fitness industry of today.
The FitHub is said to perform 27 percent better than its previous retail format.
Reebok is not the only sporting-goods maker that has its sights set on women. The segment was described as creating a “massive growth opportunity” for Nike at the brand’s investors meeting earlier this month. Nike’s goal is to grow its women’s business from $5.7 billion to $11 billion by 2020.
Adidas’s next-door neighbor Puma, meanwhile, is betting its cards on its new brand ambassador and creative director of the women’s fitness and training line Rihanna, who is slated to present her first batch of products in 2016.