Arc’teryx continues to push ahead with the expansion of stores in the U.S. Scheduled openings in coming months include locations in Denver, New York City, Boston and Chicago.
Arc’teryx, based in North Vancouver, BC, Canada, now has seven stores in operation.
The first stand-alone store opened in Montreal in 2006, and it wasn’t until September 2013 when the second opened in Seattle. A store also opened in 2013 in Vancouver. In 2014, openings included Toronto in August, Minneapolis in October, Portland in November, and Washington DC in December.
“We have a strategy of opening two to four stores a year in North America for the next few years, depending on the availability of the right locations in the right cities,” said Adam Ketcheson, Arc’teryx senior director of marketing & B2C, in an interview with The B.O.S.S. Report. “We are not expanding our overall brand door count, but rather staying focused on a very limited distribution strategy with our existing partners. Our retail strategy is designed to support that overall limited distribution strategy.”
He said the company is learning a great deal from having its own stores.
“Primarily that we need to continue to focus on being good merchants and use those learnings to better support our wholesale partners both from a product and physical experience standpoint,” said Ketcheson. “We’ve learned that the brand is very strong and in high demand. We’ve also learned that consumer expectations around our brand is that we stay focused on our quality and technical performance positioning. Our best selling products are often our most technical products. Consumers are looking for value through quality.”
The 2015 expansion will start with the opening on August 31 of its first European store in London. The 4,000 square foot store in the St James’s area of the Piccadilly district is set over two floors, providing an extensive backdrop the showcase a comprehensive range of Arc’teryx products including outdoor clothing, as well as snow sports apparel, footwear, harnesses and packs.
In the U.S., this year’s expansion will begin with a store in September in Denver's Cherry Creek neighborhood, followed by opening in the Soho area in New York City in October or November, and then one on Newbury Street in Boston in November or December. A store is also being planned for Chicago.
Ketcheson said the stores are designed to complement and support its wholesale business. He stated, “Our goal is to use the brand stores as a catalyst in the market.”
While Arc’teryx’s wholesale partners have naturally expressed concerns with its expansion, overall they’ve been supportive of the strategy.
“They see that we are not expanding our wholesale distribution which would have a much more disruptive impact in the market,” noted Ketcheson. “Overall we’ve seen wholesale growth in all markets where we have put brand stores, however we will continue to be cautious and strategic about our expansion plans as wholesale remains our most important engine.”
The openings also help support Arc’teryx’s e-commerce although e-commerce is reciprocally driving traffic to its physical doors.
“Our goal is that all of our channels wholesale, direct to consumer, brick and mortar, e-tail all grow the brand as consumers are moving between all the channels depending on the need,” stated Ketcheson. “Our distribution strategy is limited enough that it’s hard to find our brand for consumers, so all the channels matter and help the consumer find what they need.”
Going forward, Ketcheson said the brand doesn’t have a defined goal around its expansion plan.
“We look at our business in five-year cycles, however we’re so young in the retail space that the learnings over the next two to three years will really impact a longer term vision,” said Ketcheson.
Arc’teryx will follow the same distribution strategy globally with plans to open a limited number of flagship stores in key European Cities, Japan and China. Beyond London, openings overseas will include Copenhagen, Osaka and Shanghai.
On the marketing front, Arc’teryx this fall is launching a marketing campaign, called “Commit,” around designers and athletes within the brand who show intense focus and commitment to their core values around design and the brand’s core activities climbing and skiing. This spring, Arc’teryx just finished its first ever consumer campaign that wasn’t product focused but rather a platform to celebrate women in the outdoors who inspire the brands outdoor tribe. Said Ketcheson, “It was named #defineFEMININE and was a great experience to watch our consumers share stories and create global community.”
Overall, Ketcheson said Arc’teryx, owned by Amer Sports, is “performing extremely well and growing fast in all of our key regions,” including Europe, North America and Asia.
“We are fortunate to have a very balanced global distribution footprint,” said Ketcheson. “We are one of the only global outdoor brands seeing that level of consistent growth.”