“Even though we’re highly successful and highly visible in the U.S. and North America, we are a Japanese brand,” Gene McCarthy, president and CEO of Asics America, told Footwear News. “Our Asics America office is in California because of communications and travel to Japan. [But] Boston is important because the Northeast corridor’s consumerism, major retailers, and its proximity to Europe.”
What will be operational in Boston, McCarthy said, by mid summer is a Product Creation Center, which will be fully functional and open by November or December. The new facility will be, according to McCarthy, within walking distance of the Global Digital Hub the company opened last spring when it acquired global fitness tracker Fitnesskeeper, Inc.
McCarthy confirmed with FN that the new facility would house new hires as well as employees from the existing footwear product team.
Asics executives that also will be based in Boston include Andrew Richard, VP of North American Commerce; David Ayers, VP of Apparel Merchandising; Craig Gillian, GM of Digital Commerce; Takaaki Kondo, GM of Multi-Channel Marketing; and Kazuya Kawakami, GM of Consumer IT.
Helping Asics find its desired location is real estate and workplace advisory firm T3 Advisors, and IA Interior Architects is in charge of the brand’s office interior design.
Aside from being closer to its East Coast consumers, Asics believes there will be a great benefit having a presence near its key retailer partners.
“There are a lot of major players are right there in the Northeast, so it is important top be close to them,” McCarthy said. “Since I’ve taken the role and modernized our selling effort, we are now recruiting people where the business is. For example, a year ago we had nobody in New York focusing on Foot Locker and now we have a small team of people that live there in the city focusing on Foot [Locker].
When choosing where to set up shop on the East Coast, McCarthy said Boston’s rich legacy in footwear was a factor.
“We want to plant our flag in a part of the country that has a rich heritage in shoe cobbling and shoe manufacturing,” he said. “There’s a lot of history in Boston, and we feel the essence of that ties in greatly with what we’re trying to do with our teams.”
There’s another reason why McCarthy is excited to get the brand’s East Coast hub up and running.
“I think it’s time to go toe-to-toe and nose-to-nose with some of our competitors,” McCarthy said. “There are plenty up there — New Balance, Converse, Saucony, Puma, Reebok — they’re all right there in the city.”