Athleisure chains battle for market share

Accent Group is launching new Platypus stores in prime metro locations, taking up the challenge from a fast-expanding JD Sports.

The Australian Financial Review reports that as the UK-based group moves into Australia, with 15 stores open and more planned, Accent Group sees new opportunities to build the athleisure footwear market.

Parent of The Athlete's Foot, Hype and Platypus chains plus distributor of leading footwear brands such as Skechers, Merrell, Vans, Timberland and Saucony, Accent Group is opening new stores in metro locations such as Sydney's Pitt Street Mall and in Melbourne Central, reports the AFR.

Melbourne Central is the location of the first JD Sports store in Australia, opened in April 2017.

Accent Group chief executive Daniel Agnostinelli is reported as saying that "We feel that sometimes when you put two big stores together you generate more interest in the products in both stores and that becomes a bit of a hub for someone who needs to buy sneakers."

The AFR reports that the average Platypus store is between 150 and 170 square metres but new stores will be between 300 and 400 square metres.

The planned Pitt Street and Melbourne Central superstores are about 600 square metres and will stock between 700 and 800 styles, which is appealing to the core Accent Group customer.

The Melbourne-based group plans to open about 40 new stores this year, taking its network to around 485, including prospective regional locations.

JD Sports stores are currently all in Sydney and Melbourne except for one opened in Brisbane CBD in late October (pictured) and described as "our flagship store" by a staff member there. It has two floors of sports footwear and performance apparel, with the third floor featuring a Glue outlet, a youth store brand from JD Sports' driver into Australia, through Glue Store owner and former Top Shop Australia franchisee Hilton Seskin, who co-founded the Rebel Sports chain in the 1980s with Ian Dresner.

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