Mountain Warehouse is taking on Sweaty Betty with the launch of a new athletic clothing brand and chain of stores for women.
The value brand, called Zakti, will initially include around 350 products covering gym, yoga, running, cycling, skiing, dance and swimming kit. Prices range from £5 to £250.
Two Zakti stores are opening in London this weekend – in Islington and Chiswick, while an ecommerce site is already live. The Islington site is 3,000 sqft over two floors and Chiswick is around 1,800 sqft on one floor.
Mountain Warehouse boss Mark Neale said he hopes to have up to 10 more stores in London and beyond next year, with potential to take the operation overseas.
The initial total investment is £1.5m.
The trend for “athleisure” wear is driving the £6bn UK sportswear market and Mountain Warehouse is looking to capitalise with its affordable range.
The launch will set it in direct competition with the likes of fellow British retailer Sweaty Betty.
While initially aimed at women, a Zakti men’s range is due to launch next year.
Neale said: “We’ve been working on this for about a year. I’m convinced that there is a huge market for well-designed and stylish athletic clothing that performs, but is also great value. Why does great yoga gear need to be so expensive?”
Last month Mountain Warehouse reported a jump in half-year sales and profits and a launch into China through Alibaba.