Under Armour exceeded “a very aggressive launch” sales plan at Kohl’s with strong results across all categories, including men’s, women’s and children’s apparel, as well as footwear, said Kevin Mansell, the retailer’s CEO.

The brand launched in March.

“I know there was a lot of focus and attention on our launch of Under Armour and as to what level of success that would have, and I can only tell you it exceeded our expectations from every perspective in every single category in which we launched it,” said Mansell on a conference call with analysts. “More importantly to us, as well, is the impact it had on our overall active business because, as you know, we’ve made a huge bet on active and wellness as a key strategy for future growth. And the fact that deepening our brand offering with Under Armour accelerated the rest of our active business is really important.”

Overall, he said vendor partners are seeing Kohl’s as a “destination for active and wellness, including in technology areas such as like Apple Watch or Fitbit, as well as apparel and footwear, and looking for ways to expand Kohl’s active departments

He further noted that despite Under Armour being the “biggest brand launch” ever for the department store operator, Nike still grew high single digits. Said Mansell, “It just tells me that customers are recognizing what’s happening at Kohl’s in active and wellness, and they’re leaning into it, and as they lean into it, you know what happens, suppliers lean into it as well.”

Companywide, the active business delivered a mid-teen growth rate for the first quarter compared to the mid-single-digit growth rate of last year.

“Our objective to accelerate the growth of our active business by broadening and deepening our brand offering was achieved,” said Mansell. “We continue to believe strongly that there’ll be more opportunities for additional new brands in additional areas of the stores.”

Asked if Under Armour was bringing a new customer to Kohl’s, Mansell inferred it’s too early to tell but the company did see a significant increase in its non-Kohl’s Charge business in the March/April period, indicating less-frequent shoppers were visiting Kohl’s locations.

Overall, Under Armour was credited with helping Kohl’s deliver a better-than-expected quarter and helped the retailer stand out among the embattled department store sector.

Net earnings reached $66 million, or 39 cents a share, against earnings of $17 million, or 9 cents. Excluding non-recurring items, earnings were up 14 percent to $66 million, or 39 cents, from $58 million, or 31 cents, a year ago.

Sales in the first quarter fell 3.2 percent to $3.84 billion. Same-store sales were down 2.7 percent on top of a 3.9 percent decline a year ago.

Analysts were expecting Kohl’s to post earnings of 29 cents a share on sales of $3.9 billion.

Home and footwear categories both had positive comp sales for the quarter. Footwear was driven by athletic footwear. Men’s also outperformed the company. Under-performers were children’s, women’s and accessories.

Photo courtesy Under Armour