The North Face to open first Russian store
VF Corp-owned outdoor apparel brand The North Face will open its first Russian monobrand store in Saint Petersburg’s Galeria Shopping Mall in March 2020.
According to a report published by Russian business daily Vedomosti, the American brand’s retail venture in the vast transcontinental nation will be developed through a partnership with Inventive Retail Group.
The Moscow-based company already manages the Russian retail operations of brands including Nike, Re:Store and Lego, among others.
The first The North Face store in Russia will be a roughly 1,700-square-foot space offering outdoor apparel and footwear for men, women and children, as well as sports and recreational equipment and casualwear.
Representatives from Inventive Retail Group did not disclose the sum spent by the company on the venture, but real estate experts consulted by Vedomosti estimated that annual rent on a space of this kind at Galeria should total around 12 million rubles (approximately $0.19 million).
According to Vedomosti, Inventive Retail Group has plans to open another 10 The North Face stores over the next two years, with a focus on million-plus cities.
The North Face products are currently available at around 150 points of sale in Russia, including Moscow department store TsUM, the Sportmaster retail chain and outdoor specialist Alpindustria, but Russian outdoor fans are yet to be treated to a monobrand store from the label.
And, as pointed out by Inventive Retail Group president Tikhon Smykov, the number of Russians interested in sports and outdoor pursuits is fast growing.
The percentage of Russians who take part in a sporting activity at least once a week has more than doubled over the last 10 years and surpassed 50% in 2019, Infoline Analytics CEO Mikhail Burmistrov told Vedomosti, further highlighting the incentive this shift provides for sportswear and sneaker retailers.
Indeed, according to Burmistrov, sales of sportswear and sneakers increased more than 10% in Russia in 2019, growth that has also been boosted by the ongoing athleisure trend, which continues to shape tastes in the country.
This isn’t to say that The North Face’s expansion isn’t without its risks. Only a matter of months ago, American sportswear brand Under Armour was forced to shutter its Russian operations, which had been run through a franchise deal with Vostok Invest LLC since 2017.
When news of the brand's withdrawal from Russia first broke, Burmistrov told Vedomosti that Vostok’s expansion efforts for the label had been too aggressive, and also pointed out the tough competition that it had faced from the likes of Adidas and Nike.
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