US giant to unveil The Locker Room ‘concept’ store in Brent Cross

Global retail giant Foot Locker is to launch a new sports performance fascia that will take it head to head with embattled specialist retailer JJB Sports.

The Locker Room by Foot Locker will open on Wednesday in Brent Cross Shopping Centre. It will be the first store of its kind and “bridges the gap between sports performance and our traditional stores, which are one-stop shops for sneaker heads”, said a Foot Locker spokesman.

He said that the “concept” store is designed to appeal to beginner sportsmen and women – a focus that could adversely affect JJB’s recovery if rolled out.

Foot Locker is a global player, with 3,426 stores across 21 countries. Headquartered in New York, the retailer clocked up sales of $5bn (£3.22bn) in 2010. It operates 70 stores in the UK.

One analyst said that if The Locker Room is rolled out across the UK “then it would certainly be a deep concern for JJB” in “a market which is getting tougher and tougher”. JJB’s pre-tax losses widened from £24m to £66.5m as like-for-likes plummeted 17.7% in the six months to July 31.

The analyst said that there is a gap in the market for a sports specialist as people become more health conscious and sports minded and as consumers are willing to spend money on such products.

President and chief executive of Foot Locker Europe Lew Kimble said: “The Locker Room by Foot Locker is a fantastic opportunity for the brand to reach out to a new audience, providing them with the best sports performance footwear, apparel ,and accessories.

“It is designed for people of all ages and levels with a passion for sports.  Whether that sports obsession is in football, running or fitness.

“This  first concept store is launching in the UK and we’ are hopeful that we can roll it out to other parts of the UK and continental Europe.”

The Locker Room – which will open in the former HMV unit at Brent Cross and will cover 4,350 sq ft  – will focus on sports including athletics, running and football and brands including Nike, Adidas, Asics, Reebok and New Balance.

The Foot Locker spokesman said the Locker Room store “looks a lot different” to Foot Locker, and is “sleek and professional looking”.

“Foot Locker is street and urban influenced, while Locker Room is sports oriented,” he added. He declined to reveal plans for further The Locker Room openings.

Property agents Cushman & Wakefield and Lunson Mitchenall acted for Hammerson, co-owner of Brent Cross with Standard Life.

Hammerson said The Locker Room will improve the centre’s offer by creating “a new retail direction for this part of the scheme”. Brent Cross has 15 million visitors a year.