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Nike (US) is opening more and more stores in Flanders

After Antwerp and Ghent, Bruges is now also getting a store from American sportswear giant Nike in Flanders – and more stores are to be opened in the region. This decision is part of Nike’s strategy to sell outside third parties in the sales chain.

A deliberate strategic choice

Commercially speaking, Nike has sprinted away from its major German rival Adidas in recent years. A key explanation is that the sportswear giant from Oregon has deployed much faster and more massive sales through its own physical stores and online platforms. This increases the brand’s visibility and makes it possible to sell separately from third-party wholesalers such as Decathlon, JD Sports and Footlocker.

This new strategy is becoming increasingly visible in the streets of Flanders and the rest of Europe. Nike moved its store in Antwerp at the end of April 2023 to larger premises on the Meir, the largest shopping street in Belgium and Flanders as a region. In the fall of 2023, a Nike store will open in Ghent’s Veldstraat shopping district. And before the end of the year, a Nike store will open in Bruges’ Steenstraat.

An experience beyond online shopping

In total, Nike partner Retailors would like to have more than 10 stores in Belgium and Flanders as a region. Dozens of stores would also open across Europe in the next two years. This rush to open physical stores is a remarkable choice in times when online shopping continues to advance rapidly. “But you can’t fall in love with a brand through the screen of a smartphone,” a retail expert who wishes to remain anonymous for commercial reasons explains in a De Tijd news article about Nike’s sales strategy.

The physical stores of big corporations such as Nike are also far from being just a collection of shoes and clothes on a rack. They are trying to make shopping a kind of experience that transcends online shopping. The new Nike store in Antwerp’s Meir shopping street provides an excellent example of this approach.

A concentrated retail approach

Collaborating with retail partners for its stores is another part of Nike’s strategy. Nike retailers across Europe have traditionally been a patchwork of small franchises. Now, the sports goods giant is opting for a more concentrated approach. In the largest markets, like the US, UK and Germany, Nike operates its own stores. For the Benelux, Israel, Canada, Scandinavia and various Central and Eastern European countries, Retailors is the exclusive partner. In Southern Europe, Percassi fulfils this role.

Nike works with partners like Retailors or Percassi because the American company is first and foremost a wholesaler, focusing on product development, marketing and customer loyalty. However, through partner agreements, Nike does gain direct insight into sales and consumer behavior.

By knowing what sells and what doesn’t, the American sportswear company can be more efficient at inventory management and better at product development. What’s more, if Nike can plan production more accurately and avoid excess inventory, the company can obtain additional profit margins. At the same time, Nike can also rely on its impressive European Logistics Campus in Flanders for efficient distribution.

More info

Reported by
newspaper De Tijd
27 July 2023

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