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Lids Opens First International Store in London Market – WWD

Lid covers are taking a giant leap overseas.

The largest licensed sportswear retailer is opening four stores in London this month and plans to significantly expand its reach in the UK next year.

All told, Lids expects to have 20 stores operating in the UK by the end of 2022, according to Britten Maughan, the company’s president.

“We have a big rollout plan,” he said. “London is a natural fit for the Lid. America’s enthusiasm for both sports and streetwear is matched by our fashion-focused and on-court range of hats and tops. We are excited to bring our brand and products to market.”

The first store opened at Seven Dials in Covent Garden last Friday and the second, at 02 Peninsular Square, is expected to open in the next few days. The remaining two units will be at Lakeside Shopping Center in Essex and Churchill Square Russel Place Shopping Center in Brighton, which will open later this month.

The international rollout is part of a strategic growth plan launched by Lids majority owner, Ames Watson, a private equity firm based in Bethseda, Md. acquired the company for $125 million in early 2019 in partnership with Meek Mill Partners and Fanatics.

Lids operates nearly 2,000 stores in the US and Canada and has an ongoing relationship with Macy’s and Designer Brands, which operate licensed sportswear stores in their stores in North America. It also operates the newly opened National Hockey League flagship team in New York City as well as the National Basketball Association flagship team in New York and has more than $1 billion in annual sales. It operates an NBA store in London’s Soho neighborhood in partnership with Fanatics, which opened in July, as well as a Paris Saint Germain store in Los Angeles.

“Caps have always been positioned as a giant in the field of headwear,” says Maughan. “We’re in every mall in the US – sometimes in multiple locations – and that gives us leverage with the developers. We basically disagree with the idea of ​​killing retail and killing malls.”

Since being acquired from Genesco by Ames Watson, Lids has expanded the number of stores and expanded partnerships with Macy’s and Designer Brands, he said. Lids also launched their own headwear brands for the first time and moved heavily into the clothing and apparel sector.

“We were just hat stores at first, but now the eight to 12-foot walls in our stores sell tops and shorts, and they’ve done a great job,” he said. Today, headwear still accounts for more than 50% of total sales, followed by jerseys, which Maughan said is considered separate from apparel.

“People buy jerseys more for fashion purposes,” he said, adding that the company has recently been focusing on offering more fashion products by working with long-time suppliers. yourself to create exclusive merchandise that fits the bill.

Private labels, sold under the names Local Crown and Rings & Crwns, are more focused on outdoor or casual sports such as hunting and fishing and do not use names or logos that require federal approval. union or licensee. “Right now we only make headwear, but we also have the rights to the clothing,” says Maughan.

That product will be offered in UK stores alongside all US league bestsellers from the MLB, NFL and NBA, as well as items from national brands including Adidas, New Era Cap, ’47, Mitchell & Ness, Hurley and Oakley.

Maughan said Lids stores in New York and other major cities attract a lot of visitors from the UK, which led to the company’s decision to begin international expansion in that country. “The UK customer is a fan of US sports,” he said, pointing to recent baseball and football games hosted by major leagues in London. “And we believe a large number of consumers there are already familiar with popular streetwear brands like Mitchell & Ness.” Instead of buying sport-specific products, UK customers are expected to be more responsive to colors and logos on merchandise rather than individual teams.

He said the mix will be tweaked slightly but will still offer primarily US league production, with a focus on teams with international followings like the Yankees, Dodgers, Cowboys, Lakers, Celtics and other teams — teams that are already “brands of their own,” he said. “We will adjust the categories a bit, so there will be Premier League football merchandise, but it will be 5% of the assortment, not 95%.”

Each store will also have a Custom Hooded Area, allowing consumers to embroider custom hats or clothing in the store and add player numbers and signatures.

“We wanted this to be like a Lids experience in the United States,” says Maughan. “There are many hats sold in the UK, but there is not a single store dedicated to headgear. So on Day One, we were the biggest hat retailer on the market. ”

Lids has contracted with a third-party distributor in the UK to ship its products from there instead of the US, he noted.

Since the first store opened a week ago, Maughan said sales have exceeded plans. “And that doesn’t have any marketing, it’s just walking traffic,” he said.

As for the future, he said the company hopes to further expand its footprint in the international market, although there are currently no concrete plans. “We are not ready to comment on the rest of Europe yet,” he said.

“UK expansion is a priority for us at Lids,” said Tom Ripley, president and chief executive officer of Lids, and partner and co-founder at Ames Watson. “Lids has become one of the strongest retailers in North America and we are excited to take this growth internationally as we look to open more than 100 independent Lids stores in new markets. There has been a huge success with the NBA store in London operated by Lids since opening earlier this year and we are delighted to introduce independent Lids stores to an even larger audience of foreign customers. Brother. ”

https://wwd.com/business-news/retail/lids-stores-london-1235006933/ Lids Opens First International Store in London Market – WWD

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