×

Why Nike Opened a Sprawling Paris Flagship in the Middle of a Pandemic

Amid a challenged global macroeconomic backdrop that has forced many traditional retailers to close up shop, Nike Inc. is forging ahead with several brick-and-mortar concepts.

Nike’s latest tricked-out House of Innovation — dubbed Nike Paris, House of Innovation 002 — is set to open its doors this Thursday on the famed Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris.

The store, the first of its kind in Europe and the latest of only three Nike flagship experiences in the world — the others are in New York and Shanghai — spans 26,000 square feet and four floors.

Nike Paris store House of Innovation
Inside Nike’s House of Innovation in Paris.
CREDIT: Nike

Featuring a “digitally powered” end-to-end consumer experience, the outpost is the latest representation of “Nike’s bold vision for the future of retail,” according to Cathy Sparks, global VP and GM of Global Nike Direct Stores and Service.

“We are opening what we call ‘digital stores,’ and they are the perfect manifestation of how we believe consumers shop, which is both digital and physical,” Sparks explained. “They’re looking for experiences, but they also [desire] easy access to product that they want, when they want it.”

Watch on FN

Among the store’s key offerings are Nike’s proprietary bra-fitting service; kids’ pods that allow for interactive gaming to keep children moving while parents shop; and a “mission control” area near the entrance, consisting of a wall with screens that connects the consumer to “sport across the city, member benefits in-store and Nike activity apps,” among other things.

Nike Paris store House of Innovation
Inside Nike’s House of Innovation in Paris.
CREDIT: Nike

Another business imperative woven into the new retail concept is sustainability. Sparks noted that the Paris flagship will be one of the brand’s “most sustainable locations ever” — and also is the first brick-and-mortar store to offer Nike’s sustainable shoe collection, the Space Hippie. (Dubbed, Move to Zero, the brand’s effort aims to take Nike to zero carbon and zero waste.)

Nike Paris store House of Innovation
Inside Nike’s House of Innovation in Paris. “Move to Zero” describes the brand’s sustainability pledge.
CREDIT: Nike

“There are 85,000 kilos of sustainable material woven into the fabric of the environment in the store — from regrind in the floor and the walls to sustainable hangers,” said Sparks. “It’s 100% run on renewable energy.”

To address safety during the ongoing global health crisis, the store is also outfitted with hand sanitizing stations and will encourage social distancing through tailored lighting that directs shoppers to remain six feet apart.

“We’ve been thoughtful with how this space comes to life, and the French team has taken on the learnings that we have received around the world [as it relates to safety and COVID-19], so we are confidently able to open this store,” Sparks said. “[For example], we have the Nike app, which gives a zero-contact experience. … We’ve reimagined all of our footwear seating for try-ons, and we’ve made sure that the store is designed in a way that creates the appropriate spacing.”

Nike Paris store House of Innovation
CREDIT: Nike

Meanwhile, Nike’s House of Innovation outposts are intended for hot-spot tourist cities — a move that may become increasingly risky with tourist traffic waning in key cities as governments try to stem the spread of the coronavirus. But Sparks said the brand is optimistic that tourist traffic will reaccelerate in the not-too-distant future.

Lately, Nike has been stepping on the gas with its digital-focused business strategy as it navigates the pandemic-plagued retail environment.

The athletic behemoth announced in its fourth-quarter conference call last month that it had started its Consumer Direct Acceleration phase as part of its Consumer Direct Offense alignment announced three years ago. This latest phase, the company confirmed, will result in job cuts as it shifts resources.

“The Consumer Direct Acceleration is about simplifying Nike so that we can deliver on a strategy that we have so much confidence in,” said Sparks. “What we’ve identified as our bold vision for the future is grounded in those direct connections and unbreakable relationships with our members. And we’re going to do that through digitally connecting our stores and growing the digital ecosystem.”

Nike Paris store House of Innovation
Inside Nike’s House of Innovation in Paris there’s a shoe customization area.
CREDIT: Nike

As part of its growth strategy, Nike is also moving ahead with plans to open up to 200 new smaller-format, digitally enabled “monobrand” stores across North America and in the EMEA regions.

The Paris store’s debut follows the unveiling of another mega retail concept in China this month: Nike Rise. The outpost, situated at Grandview Mall in the sprawling port city of Guangzhou, spans about 22,000 square feet across three floors.

Nike Paris, House of Innovation 002, is located at 79 Avenue des Champs-Élysées. It’s open Sunday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. GMT.

Access exclusive content