British ‘athleisure’ giant JD Sports plans more shops in New Zealand

Sneakerheads, get ready: a popular global chain has big New Year plans.

The British retailer whose Sylvia Park shop opening sparked nighttime queues this month will open further stores, the second of which is to be announced in the New Year.

“British athleisure retail giant JD Sports has plans to open multiple stores throughout New Zealand over the next two years. The expansion will see the creation of 400 to 700 retail jobs in the market as well as increasing consumer choice in sports fashion around the country,” the business said.

Australia and New Zealand chief executive Hilton Seskinsaid there was room to establish a significant footprint here because it tended to grow the size of a market when it launched in a new country.

The chain was now investigating other tenancies for stores up to 800sq m in metropolitan areas nationwide, he said.

“The opening of our first New Zealand store has produced some of the strongest sales numbers of any JD Sports store opening globally, including key flagship doors,” Seskin said.

The website had also driven a huge consumer response since it was launched in June.

“It continues to exceed our initial forecasts.Our estimates suggest there is considerable room in the New Zealand market for JD. We have already identified the location of our second New Zealand store which will open in the New Year.

“From there we will look to open another eight stores relatively quickly,” he said.

Staff training programmes are underway.

“We see the retail industry as offering long-term career potential and as part of their development we will give our team members access to the JD academy, a training programme designed to support the progression of future managers,” he said.

On November 9, the Herald reported a long queue snaking down the side of the Sylvia Park in Mt Wellington, despite the mall not opening until the next day.

Auckland moved to alert level 3 step 2 just before midnight, signalling the end of a strict lockdown that has shut up shops around the city since mid-August.

The retailer offered the first 150 customers a gift pack worth $150 and extra security was brought in to manage the queue and distribute face masks.

JD Sports initially planned to open its first New Zealand store on August 26 but alert level 4 at that time prevented it.

Seskin said then the plan was to casualise sportswear, offer exclusive global products to Kiwis and target millennials who he said were heavily focused on work-life balance.

“Close to 50 per cent of our offering is JD global exclusive,” Seskin said in August.

The business has a market value of £9.66 billion ($19.12b) and has 2600 shops, of which 33 are in Australia.

The Sylvia Park store is 850sq m.

Industry researcher IBISWorld said New Zealand’s two main sports and camping equipment shops were the Warehouse Group and the Briscoe Group.

Linda Trainer, asset management manager at Sylvia Park owner Kiwi Property, said the company was thrilled to get New Zealand’s first JD Sports store.

“JD Sports is a big name in global sports fashion, offering new products to the market that Kiwi consumers will be eager to get their hands on. It’s exciting to have this first-in-market brand at Sylvia Park, catering to the growing demand for athleisure retail,” she said.

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