Founder: Nick Paulson-Ellis
Number of outlets: 1 recently opened, more to follow
Location: Fulham Road, Chelsea, London
Market: Premium Activewear
Modern Retail talks to Nick Paulson-Ellis about the launch of new premium activewear outlet, The Sports Edit, on The Fulham Road, Chelsea, London.
MR: Hi Nick, congratulations on the launch of The Sports Edit! How would you describe your brand?
NP: We’re the UK’s first multi-brand, multi-channel activewear retailer, offering the best edit of the best brands from around the world. We focus on activewear that blends style, performance and quality.
MR: How would you define your target customer?
NP: Our typical customer tends to be city based, sporty, wants to look and feel good, and understands the importance of an active, healthy lifestyle. Our customers are time pressed, struggling with the triple whammy of work, family and staying healthy and fit, so want sportswear that works across contexts.
MR: Why should people shop at The Sports Edit?
NP: We have a carefully curated selection of the world’s most stylish and innovative sportswear labels, several of which you can’t buy anywhere else in the UK. But we’re not just a retail shop. In addition to our unique product offering, we are truly passionate about health and fitness and creating a community of people with shared values. Our brand hashtag, #sweatunited, was inspired by this wellness movement. More people doing activities they love also means the world is a healthier, happier place.
MR: What do you want to do differently to your competitors?
NP: Traditional sportswear retail in the UK lacks variety, with mostly the same products from the same brands. As the activewear market explodes around the world there are some amazing brands emerging, and we’re picking the best products from the most exciting brands, and presenting them in a premium in-store and online environment, more akin to a fashion retailer than a sports store.
MR: What challenges do you face as a business, and how do you aim to overcome them?
NP: As a new business there are many challenges to overcome. Particularly on predicting demand in the early stages and getting the inventory depth right. The main way we’re overcoming this is by working very closely with our brands. With them supporting us to make sure we have the right stock in place. The other main challenge is building three legs to the business simultaneously. Being, physical retail, ecommerce, and our own brand range SALT. It isn’t really about overcoming this as such, as this is ongoing, but we have to be disciplined and strategic about how we develop each part.
MR: How do you plan to use technology/media/ecommerce to improve your offering?
NP: Technology/media/ecommerce are central to our offering. With ecommerce launching simultaneously with our first physical store, and social media starting ahead of launch. It’s an exciting space to be in and technology changes quickly. As an agile company, we are able to listen to customer feedback or notice user behaviour patterns. Adapting quickly so we can offer the best retail experience across all channels, from in-store to online. From a product offering perspective, we know our target demographic loves technology and are early adopters. Particularly when it comes to the intersection of tech and health. We will continue to explore new technologies from both a retail and operations perspective so that we can improve, grow, and innovate.
MR: What do you love about your work?
NP: We’re operating in an incredibly exciting space and as a result we have lots of growth, innovation, and new brands emerging all the time. I love the buying process, scouring the globe of the best brands, and bringing something new to the UK market. Everyone here is passionate about running, yoga and Pilates, and exercise in general, so its great to be surrounded by people who inherently love the space we operate in.
MR: What advantages/disadvantages does your location bring?
NP: Chelsea also has a very active demographic. So there are lots of great gyms and studios near us such as Lomax and Trioga. We have a lot of customer crossovers with gyms and studios, and we’re able to collaborate with them. It is quite local footfall, which is not a disadvantage as such, but something we were conscious about in choosing the site. So we will tend to have more regular customers.
MR: What are your growth aims for the next 12 months?
NP: We want to open a second store in central London for AW16, grow the online side substantially, and do lots of events and collaborations with the brands we stock.
MR: What advice would you give to a new retail start-up based on your experience?
NP: Have a clear point of difference relative to the competition, operate on a true omni-channel basis, and be resilient as there will be plenty of bumps in the road.