Competition coming as British retail giant JD Sports readies first Auckland store

British sports retailer JD Sports is on track to open its first New Zealand store on August 26, offering more competition in the local athleisure market.

“It’s another competitor, albeit they operate in a slightly different space. But we see them as a competitor and we’ll be watching them carefully,” said Rod Duke, managing director of Briscoe Group, which operates Rebel Sport.

Duke said there was enough space in the market for JD Sports but it will pose some competition to Rebel Sport.

“If we were all to operate in the exact same space there would not be enough space in the market,” he said.

But consumers will have “slightly different” choice, he said.

Hilton Seskin, chief executive of JD Sports Australia and New Zealand, confirmed the company is opening its first store this month at Auckland’s Sylvia Park mall.

The plan, he said, was to casualise sportswear and offer exclusive global products to Kiwis.

“Close to 50 per cent of our offering is JD global exclusive,” Seskin said.

JD Sports has a market value of £9.66 billion ($19.12b) and operates more than 2600 stores globally, including 33 in Australia.

The Sylvia Park store will be 850sq m, the second biggest in Asia Pacific behind its Sydney store.

According to market industry researcher IBISWorld, the two major players in the New Zealand market for sport and camping equipment retailing are the Warehouse Group and the Briscoe Group.

They capture about 20 per cent of the market while others, such as Kathmandu, Elite Fitness Equipment and Outside Sports hold about 7 per cent of the total market share.

The IBISWorld latest report revealed the industry had a low market share concentration so there would not be significant barriers to new entrants.

“As a retail and service industry, capital requirements are low, which supports new entrants,” the report revealed.

Seskin also said JD Sports would focus on casualising sportswear, targeting millennials who are heavily focused on work-life balance.

“We also know that there is an existing identification with our global brand partners like Adidas and Nike. The culture of basketball is huge within our business and really resonates with many NZ consumers in our target demographic,” Seskin said.

He said the Sylvia Park store will carry more than 10,000 stock units and more than 1000 product lines – including 500 exclusive items when it opens this month.

First Retail Group managing director Chris Wilkinson said it’s a growing segment and JD’s experiential stores will take it to the next level.

“This is something NZ hasn’t seen before,” he said.

They deliver real retail theatre through immersive environments that include music, high energy salespeople, video and, in many stores overseas, conveyors that bring the shoes down from upper floor storage areas, Wilkinson said.

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