With one of its biggest partners shrinking the number of stores it operates, Under Armour (UA) is making an aggressive bid this year to control its own future.
The Baltimore, Maryland- based athletic wear brand will open a whopping 200 stores in 2016, said Under Armour founder and CEO Kevin Plank in a keynote speech at the annual National Retail Federation conference last week. Plank did not disclose what mix of formats those new 200 stores would comprise, and a spokeswoman for the company did not return a request for comment.
But the composition is likely to be a mix of several store types.
Globally, Under Armour currently operates 144 owned factory stores, which sell more affordable workout gear than is normally found at department stores, online and sporting goods retailers. The company also has 29 stores known as "brand houses", which tend to be large in size and feature the very best collections. And it sells a more limited line of offerings at about 127 owned shops found within the stores of key partners such as Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS) .
In particular, Dick's is planning to introduce a new Under Armour shop design sometime in 2016, but the new format has not yet launched, according to Dick's.
Under Armour is also likely to focus on China with many of its new store openings in 2016.
"So we see great opportunity there [China] -- it's going to be our second-largest controlled market and is growing exponentially," said Plank on an Oct. 22 call with analysts. By "controlled," Plank was referring to retail stores directly operated by Under Armour.
In September, Under Armour opened its largest international brand house store totaling 15,000 square feet on Weihai Lu Road in downtown Shanghai. Of the roughly 100 stores Under Armour planned to open in 2015, Plank noted that about three-quarters would be in China.