One of the UK’s biggest athletic wear retailers, JD Sports, has announced plans to open in Australia.
Dubbed the “undisputed king of trainers”, the UK chain has revealed it will open a store in Melbourne on April 27 with more to follow on the east coast later this year.
It comes amid the rise of the activewear and “athleisure” trend, which has fuelled a surge in demand for fashion-oriented sportswear.
The company says Australian shoppers will have access to the chain’s entire range of footwear and apparel for men, women and children.
Big on brands
That ranges from well-known brands including Adidas, Nike, Converse, Under Armour and North Face, and labels currently popular in Europe such as Fred Perry, Sergio Tacchini and Fila.
JD Sports also offers Ivy Park, an activewear brand created last year by Beyoncé and Topshop owner Philip Green.
The UK giant is being brought to Australia by Hilton Seskin, who lured Topshop and also founded Glue Store and Rebel Sport.
The retailer pitches itself as an aspirational store that offers shoppers exclusive products and limited-edition styles from big labels such as Adidas and Nike.
“Being a global retailer gives us access to the best product, higher tiered releases, more exclusives and the ability to build ranges that are specific to the JD consumer, making JD the place to go for sport fashion,” Mr Seskin said.
“We are not here to cut out Australian brands as our offering is very different.”
The athletic clothing chain will enter a $2 billion sector that includes Foot Locker, Lululemon, Lorna Jane, and Amart and Rebel Sport, both part of the Super Retail Group.
As JD Sports arrives, Rebel is reportedly planning to expand Rebel Fit, its “athleisure” brand, in 2017.
The UK chain’s 540 square metre store at Melbourne Central shopping centre will be followed by four or five more on the east coast, with the company currently advertising for staff in Sydney and on the Gold Coast.
Stores will be fitted out with digital kiosks that allow shoppers to browse the JD Sports catalogue and buy products on the spot.
Demand for activewear
JD Sports’ entry into the Australian market was first flagged in August last year, when the UK business acquired Next Athleisure, Mr Seskin’s private equity partner.
Mr Seskin has retained 20 per cent of the new company, JD Sports Fashion Holding, which is 80 per cent owned by JD.
Analysts have said the retailer’s offering, which is heavy on big names, is likely to find favour with brand-conscious activewear shoppers in Australia.
Last year, JD Sports unveiled a 45 per cent jump in annual profits, sparked by rising demand for women’s sports clothing.
Demand for fashion-conscious sporting wear has continued to grow around the world. In Australia, the women’s activewear market is predicted to increase by more than 20 per cent between 2015 and 2020.
Rebel Sport currently leads the pack locally with a 30 per cent market share, followed by Lorna Jane (12 per cent), Foot Locker (seven) and Lululemon (5 per cent).
JD Sports has more than 800 stores throughout Europe and south-east Asia and is already in 12 countries.