- Under Armour announced Tuesday a partnership with department store retailer Kohl's that will place Under Armour-branded apparel, accessories and footwear in more than 1,100 Kohl's stores nationwide starting March 1 of next year.
- The deal, more than two years in the making, will be "one of the biggest launches in the history of Kohl's," Kohl's chief merchandising and customer officer Michelle Gass told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
- Under Armour also announced that it would be moving into toy retailer FAO Schwarz's now-empty Manhattan flagship store as soon as 2018 in an effort to use "landmark retail space" to attract customers and to build its brand and story.
Although these announcements come on the tail of Under Armour reporting a 58% drop in second-quarter profit (mainly due to Sports Authority's woes), the retailer isn't letting that get in its way.
Under Armour has been determined to push into a market largely dominated by Nike and Adidas, two giants in the sportswear space with global reach. The retailer's efforts in the U.S. have paid off, with Under Armour surpassing Adidas as the No. 2 sportswear retailer in the States in 2014—but Adidas is not going without a fight. Adidas recently announced an aggressive comeback plan, which includes speeding up production, moving into key cities like Los Angeles and New York, and tapping into more collaborations with athletes and creatives, including an expansion of its partnership with rapper Kanye West.
With this new partnership with Kohl's, Under Armour is looking to match Nike and Adidas' reach, and going beyond sporting goods stores like Sports Authority. The 1,100 Kohl's stores will add to Under Armour's current presence in around 11,000 locations across North America. As Bloomberg points out, it still pales in comparison to Nike's 24,000 stores, but the partnership with Kohl's and its new flagship space in New York nevertheless will put Under Armour's logo out in front of a new set of consumers and give fans greater access to the brand.
“As we look at our brand and mature and evolve, we believe there’s a customer that shops primarily at Kohl’s and is passing on our brand because it's unavailable,” Matt Mirchin, Under Armour’s president for North America, said in an interview with Bloomberg.
Among these customers are another important group that Under Armour has actively been striving to reach: women. As the athleisure trend continues to flourish among women, Under Armour has been courting these fashionable-yet-sporty consumers with ad campaigns featuring ballerina Misty Copeland and the hire of fashion designer Tim Coppens for a new collection dubbed UAS.
It's all part of an goal outlined by Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank last year to grow its $600 million women's collection to the size of its men's business. Putting its wares in front of Kohl's customers—the majority of which are women shopping for themselves and/or their families—is a significant step in that direction.