In Paris, the Adidas-owned athletic brand has debuted its first FitHub — a new space offering products at the crossroads between fitness and fashion, dedicated entirely to women.
“The concept is unique in France. It’s the first time we offer fashion and sports together,” said Sandrine Retailleau, Reebok’s brand director for France and Western Europe, about the 900-sq.-ft. shop-in-shop, which is on the fourth floor of Galeries Lafayette.
Spanning footwear, apparel and accessories, the offering has been tailored to changing lifestyle of modern women, according to the executive.
It is divided into several themed areas: functional fitness and cross-training, including combat, the fastest-growing business within that unit; studio, which comprises yoga and dance; and running.
“Women today pursue at least two or three fitness activities, and they like to mix and match technical products with fashion, which is why we have opted for a holistic, cross-merchandising approach,” she explained, pointing to a range of printed legwear, which can be worn in the gym as well as on the street and which is among the brand’s key sellers after sports bras.
The repositioning was critical for Reebok, said Retailleau. “Fitness is our heritage, and we have strong roots within the female audience. Reebok was the first brand to design a sneaker specifically for women — the Freestyle, a classic leather shoe launched in 1982, which is still our bestseller,” she noted, adding, “Classic leather is coming back, by the way — not only in France but across Western Europe.”
Since the brand refocused on fitness about four years ago, all categories have seen fast growth, noted Retailleau, with apparel leading the pack. The brand has logged nine consecutive quarters of growth worldwide.
Reebok’s goal is to have a 50-50 business split between men’s and women’s by 2020, up 10 percentage points from its current 60/40 split worldwide.
More shop-in-shops in key cities, including London, Berlin, Milan and Barcelona, are in the pipeline. “We want to be a global brand and create strong impact where it matters. In Western Europe alone, we are going to double the number of shop-in-shops featuring the FitHub concept over the next year,” Retailleau revealed.
Last March, Reebok President Matt O’Toole conceded that the brand’s turnaround took “too long,” but that “the work was done” and it was time to capitalize on the fitness industry of today, which totals 76 billion euros ($87.4 billion).
The brand said FitHubs perform 27 percent better than the company’s previous retail format.
Reebok isn’t the only sporting-goods maker that has its sights set on women. The segment was described as a “massive growth opportunity” for Nike at the giant’s investor day earlier this month. Nike’s goal is to grow its women’s business from $5.7 billion to $11 billion by 2020.
And Adidas’ next-door neighbor, Puma, is betting on Rihanna, its new brand ambassador and creative director of its women’s fitness and training line, who is slated to present her first batch of products in 2016.