San Francisco-based Gap Inc.-owned women’s and girls’ brand Athleta will open a storefront at Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre this fall in a space most recently occupied by Nike prior to its recent relocation. Despite trends in the sneaker industry showing shoppers are moving to online commerce, Nike continues to buck this trend by opening flagship stores.
The former Nike space were Athleta is moving into measures about 4,800 square feet according to lease plans with a 34-foot frontage near the mall’s Hudson’s Bay store. It will be one of two confirmed first-to-Canada locations for Athleta in Canada with the other set to open at the Park Royal centre in West Vancouver. More Athleta storefronts will subsequently open in the Canadian market according to its parent company.
Nike recently relocated to a massive space spanning about 32,000 square feet at Yorkdale which was profiled this week in Retail Insider.
“International expansion is a key component of our growth strategy to reach two billion dollars in net sales by 2023, and we are very proud to introduce Athleta to customers in Canada,” said Mary Beth Laughton, President and CEO, Athleta. “As a purpose-driven brand, we are excited to expand our community of empowered and confident women and girls to Canada and bring them a differentiated and inclusive offering in the performance lifestyle category.”
Athleta says that it plans to open between 20 and 30 stores in North America annually. The brand already has over 200 stores across the United States which it says are profitable. Gap Inc. says that its Athleta stores remain a “top customer acquisition and brand awareness vehicles and are a key component of the growth and future of the brand.”
New wholesale partnerships and international expansion through franchise and company-operated stores are among Gap Inc.’s strategic steps towards growing the Athleta brand to USD $2 billion in net sales by 2023. Last year Athleta surpassed USD $1 billion in net sales with 16% annual sales growth.
Athleta was founded in San Francisco in 1998 and Athleta Girl was launched in 2016. The company says that its mission “comes to life through inclusive and sustainable product design, connecting with customers through unique experiences in stores, online and within local store communities.”