Nike looks to new hire to ‘elevate’ retail experiences

Nike is cranking up efforts to bolster its retail experience with the appointment of senior marketer Heidi O’Neill to the newly created vice president and general manager of stores role.

Nike plans to ramp up investment in its retail footprint through its latest appointment.

She assumes oversight for all aspects of the company’s retail strategy including ecommerce and future initiatives with partner stores such as JD Sports and Footlocker. Nike says the role will prioritise “further elevating consumers’ experience” of the brand at retail such as the development of new store concepts.

The role signals a shift in tempo for the company’s retail strategy as it, like rival Adidas, looks to create more premium brand experiences at store level. New retail store formats such as the NikeLabs (see below) in New York, London, Paris, Milan, Shanghai, Hong Kong have been trialled already this year alongside premium outlets for its Jordan apparel brand in the US.

Nike said in June marketing investments so far in 2014 had improved retail presentation, consumer experiences, storytelling, merchandising, product flow and assortment planning.

O’Neill joined Nike in 1998 as a marketing director for apparel. Most recently, she was vice president and general manager of Nike Women’s offering. It is her knowledge of this category Nike hopes to mine moving forward with the business forecasting $17bn (£10.2bn) in annual wholesale revenue from womenswear by 2017 from the $5bn (£2.9bn) it yielded in 2013.

Nike ramped up investment in women’s product distribution this year around three areas. Product assortments, premium services, and improved shopping experiences targeting women were pushed through 50 stores worldwide and the company claimed they outpaced growth of other stores in it latest quarter.

Amy Montagne succeeds O’Neill in running the women’s category. She was previously vice president and general manager of global merchandising and has also led its global running merchandise business.

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