Asics accelerates UK expansion plan

Japanese sportswear manufacturer Asics is looking to bolster its retail footprint in the UK as it prepares to open its European flagship store in central London.

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The new Oxford street store, which opens this week (19 July), will be the second to open in the capital and the fourth in Europe, following May openings in Stockholm and Amsterdam.

It will provide professional advice for runners in-store, a lab to analyse biomechanical data on how well they consumers run as well a service that creates bespoke footwear.

The sports performance brand plans to open more outlets across the UK.

Additionally, new store layouts are being developed to encourage amateur athletes to learn more about running by focusing on the science behind both the sport and the footwear.

Michael Price, director of marketing at Asics Europe, insists that the retail push can raise awareness for the business. He admitted that brand perception levels in the UK are worse than they are in places like Germany and the Netherlands.

Price adds: “There’s no other brand that does at a retail level what we do. We bring the science and technology behind our products to our stores. Retail is therefore really important for us because its about delivering the ultimate sports performance retail experience. By doing this at a store level it means that we’re able to better reflect what we’re talking about in our communications and get people in to UK to see us a true sports brand.

“We see excellent growth opportunities in the UK. If I go back five years go we were not a top ten sports footwear brand. Now, we have the fourth highest total market share of the category and I predict we’ll move up number three next year.”

The focus on retail does not mean the brand will forget about other channels in its media mix. Ultimately, the philosophy is to get consumers to choose the channel that’s right for them, says Price.

Separately, Asics is preparing to launch the next phase of its global ‘Made of Sport campaign with a raft of TV, digital and experiential activity in October.

Asics’ retail drive comes as a new study from the Chartered Institute of Marketing revealed that marketers need to do more to address the disconnect between brand promise and customer experience.

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