Puma has long fought for market share in the ultracompetitive athletic marketplace, a landscape dominated by behemoths Adidas and Nike. But now, with its debut North American flagship store opening in New York City this week, the company will be positioned alongside the giants.
The store is located on bustling Fifth Avenue, within walking distance of its competitors’ massive stores, and it will be stocked with the brand’s latest and greatest performance and lifestyle products for men, women and kids. It spans two floors and occupies 18,000 square feet of retail space.
Inside the technology-fueled modern space, consumers can shop in several sports engagement zones and peruse products via “magic mirrors” that use RFID chips to bring up alternatives based on the item scanned. For anyone who needs a break from shopping, there’s an area with stadium seating and an NBA2K gaming experience in the basketball zone.
Other highlights include a Puma x You customization studio that will feature residencies every two weeks with artists such as Sue Tsai, Maria Jahnkoy and others; professional-grade F1 racing simulators for its motorsports enthusiast consumers; and a pitch that resembles San Siro Stadium to try on the brand’s soccer boots.
Puma’s debut on Fifth Avenue comes as the brand is growing stateside. After ending 2018 up 16.9% in the Americas, Puma did even better in 2019, with an 18.1% sales growth in the region during the first half of 2019. (On Aug. 1, the brand reported overall second-quarter profits up nearly 60% on sales of 1.2 billion euros, or $1.3 billion.)
“This store is about staying opportunistic. We really like the space — it’s kind of the 50-yard line of Fifth Avenue — and our growth allowed us to strike when the opportunity came up,” Puma North America CEO Bob Philion told FN on a tour of the store today. “Outside of just the business opportunity that exists here, we’re really excited about the visibility that this store brings, not just in New York but the international contingent.”
Both Philion and Puma CEO Bjørn Gulden have attributed several recent moves to the success in the Americas, including reentering basketball and working with powerful influencers such as songstress Selena Gomez. These efforts in the region appear to be boosting the company’s profile in all geographies.
“The sports industry is very dependent on the American market, and if you want to be a global player, you need a relevant and good successful setup in the U.S.,” Gulden told FN. “Competition in the U.S. is fierce and the influence of the American market is big. That’s why you need a talented team here to compete domestically but also bring the influence of what’s happening in the U.S. into the global setup.
However, if gaining ground on giants such as Adidas and Nike is a priority, there’s still work to be done. According to data provided by The NPD Group Inc., Puma is strongest in the sport lifestyle segment, however, it only holds 6% of the market and positioned No. 6 overall.
Gulden, meanwhile, acknowledges that work remains.
“We are only scratching the surface. A lot of the things we have done have become relevant again,” he said. “Investing in basketball is making the brand relevant again, working with Selena Gomez is making us relevant for the female consumer and if you look at the product offering you will see we’re competitive in many categories. And if we keep on improving, we will be more and more relevant to the consumer.”
Aside from opening its first-ever North American flagship, the firm will further bolster its presence stateside with a new Boston headquarters, slated to open in 2021.
Puma’s new store in NYC, which opened its doors on Aug. 29, is located at 609 Fifth Avenue and will remain open daily from 10 a.m. ET to 8 p.m. ET.
Below, watch behind-the-scenes footage of FN’s shoot at Puma headquarters in Germany with Selena Gomez.
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