Nike has launched its first standalone store outside London at Grosvenor’s Liverpool One scheme and is preparing to open a string of shops before the end of the year.

Its Northwest debut is the first of a wave of wholly owned, new-format stores intended to ramp up the sportswear retailer’s presence outside London.

Nike operates stores through franchise partners at present and is sold widely through multiple brand retailers and wholesalers, but the move towards owning its own stores outside London represents a shift in strategy.

A Nike spokesman said: “We want to be the best brand everywhere we operate. Owning our own stores is only one part of our strategy. We’re not changing our strategy in terms of our relationship with wholesale partners.”

The sportswear brand plans to launch five stores by the end of the year and another five in the first six months of 2009.

In the past week, Nike has signed for a store at Bluewater. It will also open in Manchester, Westfield London and Neil Street in Covent Garden by the end of the year. Bluewater owner Lend Lease was represented by DTZ.

As revealed by Retail Week last week, Nike is also understood to be in the running to take space in the redeveloped Hog in the Pound pub site on London’s South Molton Street off Oxford Street. However, Nike was unable to confirm this.

The building, which has been acquired by Kenmore Capital, will be redeveloped to house 5,000 sq ft (465 sq m) of retail space over two storeys.

At Liverpool One, Nike has opened its doors in the same area that houses New Look and American Apparel. The design of the store is a collaboration between Nike’s US operation and staff at its European headquarters in Amsterdam. It will form the blueprint for future Nike stores.

Nike also operates a number of outlet stores in the UK, where off-price merchandise is sold