What Happened: Chinese sportswear brand Anta recently unveiled its first flagship store with the brand’s new “Gym Tech” concept in central Shanghai. The new concept will be localized across over 7,000 stores in China after late 2021, said Anta Group’s chief marketing officer, Lydia Zhu, to Jing Daily.
“The store concept is designed to support the ‘new health-conscious’ consumer movement,” said Philip Handford, design director of retail practice at the architecture firm Gensler. Located on the city’s well-known pedestrian retail street, Shanghai’s East Nanjing Road, Anta’s new flagship store has adopted the “Gym Tech” concept as a core design pillar to provide customers with a visual identity similar to one they might find at a gym, yoga studio, or sports club.
Jing Take: At face value, Anta brand’s store facelift has shown confidence in a post-COVID-19 retail environment and a return to offline shopping. Although, if we look at the move more closely, it also signifies a change in the brand’s business model, pushed by its ownership group.
As detailed in an August voluntary announcement from Anta Group to investors, Anta brand plans to change its wholesale distribution model to a direct-to-consumer one. “Uplifting the store is an important way to improve the consumer experience,” Zhu said while confirming this connection.
Within the group, the Anta brand now also appears to be under stress, due to comparisons to Fila brand’s Chinese operations, which the group had acquired in 2009. In the latest financial report for H1 2020, Anta brand’s 10,197 worldwide stores contributed 46 percent to the group’s revenue, while Fila accounted for 48.7 percent of it, also reporting a 9.4 percent growth compared to H1 2019. As such, it will be interesting to check back in a year to see whether Anta’s new strategy takes off.
The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.