Sports Authority Latest to Launch New Concept

They aren’t rolling out like they used to, but there are some retailers out there trying to test new concepts for growth. The latest announcement is by Sports Authority, which is surprisingly launching a chain geared at a high-end consumer.

Called S.A. Elite, the first store is opening in Denver in August. The privately held Sports Authority did not announce how many total stores the company plans to roll out.

The stores will average between 12,000 square feet and 15,000 square feet, a space size that it seems like landlords need to fill. They will offer “high-end performance apparel, footwear and accessories from premier brands.”

Shopping-center owners will probably find this as welcome news, especially if Sports Authority has big expansion plans. Plus, it’s probably a good time fort the retailer to get a good deal on rents. But is the consumer ready for a high-end sporting goods concept?

10 Responses to “Sports Authority Latest to Launch New Concept”

  1. 1 Confused Consumer May 14, 2010 at 7:17 am

    Really, Sports Authority? How about you focus on getting better rent deals, re-hab some stores, & spend money re-branding so that you may increase your profitability? High-end concept? Sounds like a decision a PE owner on Wall Street would make (& not a true retailer).

  2. 2 Short42 May 14, 2010 at 7:40 am

    How does SA define “high-end”? Based on the quality of the products in their current stores and the absence of sales associates, stepping up to a higher quality product offering should not be that much of a stretch. Plus if they can take advantage of lower rents in higher profile spaces, they may not need to improve margins to improve net income (5% margin on a higher ticket item is more dollars).

  3. 3 The Man May 14, 2010 at 8:20 am

    This is PE code language for creating something new, gt a ton of press, go public and get my $$ back before the bad sales results of this concept trickle in.

  4. 4 Derrich May 14, 2010 at 8:30 am

    Mostly agree with “Confused Consumer” and “Short42”. When I think of sports apparel stores, it’s Academy & Dick’s…in that order. Whether or not other consumers share that same view, Sports Authority is in need of an overhaul itself. Rebrand what you’ve got, introduce more “high-end” apparel into your current stores, and facelift existing stores.

  5. 5 James May 14, 2010 at 10:09 am

    Sports Authority needs to seal the deal with its existing customer base. I would like to see more product selection, including high end, put into their existing stores. And how about a few people on the floor who actually know something about what they are selling? There is no point in merchandising product that is available next door at Target, Walmart or Kohls, so get rid of that stuff. How about a few soul searching sessions to figure out who you are and where you want to be positioned in the market place and then go for it. Sports nuts will pay for quality, durability, and reliability, after all its called performance isn’t it? So quit screwing around with half assed game plans and get with it! If you want to try ultra high end stores put them in those special places where high end people willingly spend money, Cherry Creek, Aspen, Vail, Deer Valley, Tahoe, etc, etc, etc,

  6. 6 Tahitijack May 14, 2010 at 11:27 am

    As and elite runner you don’t think much of SA. You visit local shops run by people that know there product and fit shoes right the first time. They carry brands other than Nike and sponser events each weekend. This is not a huge market. If SA thinks they are going to take on the specialty running shops, they will cross the finish line hours after the rest of us have moved on to the after party.

  7. 7 herbacidal May 14, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    There probably is room in the market for a higher end sports apparel company using 10-15k sf per store(competing with I’d think Danziesen and Quigley and other 1-10 unit stores), but I’d agree that Sports Authority might not be the one to develop it. I could see Dicks having success developing that as a new division though.

  8. 8 Metro May 14, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    My first instinct said to me that this sounds like a play to bring a City Sports type of franchise to suburbia. High-End sporting goods, on the surface, implies that SA would be going into either a Gorsuch or a Griffin and Howe direction, which they’re definately NOT going to do.

    Based on the 12,000-15,000 SF in-line tenant model, SA’s real target is going to be the local soccer/lacrosse/field hockey markets that are currently met by local area stores which will always have the advantage. The local speciality sports retailer is always going to sponsor and supply the local teams with the equipment of their choice. Those decisions are made by the ownership who is usually in-store.

    Sports Authority USED TO have a really strong operation. They, like Eastbay and Food Locker, could at least get someone started in a sport. Now, it’s like trying to buy running shoes at Macy’s or Boscov’s-the buyer is overcharged and underpriced. At the end of the day, I guess some PE guy had to buy his kid their first soccer kit and thought he saw an opportunity.

  9. 9 greg May 14, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    This specialty retail is best left to the locals with ties and history to the sport and the community. If the concept is a shop selling only the the most expensive sports apparel,then pick your spot and take a shot. Lord knows there’s plenty of eager landlords that will give it try.It may simply end up cannabilizing their current store’s most profitable customer segment. Good luck!

  10. 10 MIchael Lando May 15, 2010 at 7:50 am

    This effort indicates upper management at SA is aware of successful new concepts. Certainly there is a market of high-end sports participants who wants better than average product selection and customer service. Fit to Run in sarasota-bradenton fl is a prime example. Question is, how does SA develop savvy, knowledgeable sales staff and regionally appropriate merchandising for the patchwork of atletic markets (i.e. la crosse in the mid-atlantic?).
    This move seems more like the movie “Revenge of the Nerds” where the geeks beat the jocks at their own game–entertaining to watch, but improbable.

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May 2010

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