- As Athleta looks for scale, the athletics brand is opening its first two outlet stores, according to a company press release. The new locations count toward the company’s goal of opening 30 to 40 stores this year.
- A location at Chicago Premium Outlets is set to open this summer, while a store at the Leesburg Premium Outlets in Virginia will open in the fall.
- The outlets will offer Athleta shoppers a “curated assortment” of the brand’s performance and lifestyle products.
Athleta is firmly focused on growth, calling its first two outlet stores a “milestone” in building out its store fleet. The locations join 12 other stores Athleta has already opened this year in North America, and represent a new model for interacting with shoppers.
“As part of our long-term strategic growth plan, Athleta is investing in new access points to reach new customers, deliver new value to customers who already know and love our brand, and expand our community of empowered women and girls,” Mary Beth Laughton, president and CEO of Athleta, said in a statement. “Our new outlet stores are intentionally designed to stand out from traditional outlet and clearance store models, helping drive new customer acquisition and increased brand awareness for Athleta.”
As Gap Inc. struggles to turn around its namesake and Banana Republic brands, Athleta has emerged as a bright spot and a growth vehicle. The apparel company is working to expand Athleta beyond its core, with deals last year to bring the brand to over 100 REI stores and open up shop in Canada.
Canada, the brand’s first company-owned expansion outside of the United States, is a “strategic growth priority” for Athleta and its parent company. The athletics brand has three stores open in the region, and in June announced four additional locations that will open this fall. As Athleta announced its first outlets opening in the U.S., the company also highlighted its initial progress in Canada, saying customer acquisition in the region exceeded expectations by 40% in Q1.
Opening up outlet stores is a way for Athleta to potentially reach more budget-conscious customers, and could also help the brand shed excess inventory at a time when much of the industry is struggling with inventory levels. Athletics retailer Dick’s Sporting Goods has tested a variety of clearance concepts over the past couple of years as the pandemic rattled retail. CEO Lauren Hobart in May called out its Going, Going, Gone concept in particular for helping clear excess inventory.