FGL Sports-owned Sport Chek is continuing to open innovative flagship stores in Canada. Last week, Sport Chek opened two new flagship locations in the Toronto area, and the company has plans to open several more in selected Canadian markets. We spoke with FGL's Eric Watt, who's leading the flagship strategy, about Sport Chek's flagship store plans over the next several years.
Sport Chek's flagships are large and, according to the company, reflect the most digitally-savvy store execution anywhere in the world. Flagship stores feature digital installations to improve the customer experience, and it's paying off -- the company's first two flagships have seen double-digit annual growth. Sport Chek's first flagship opened at West Edmonton Mall in early 2014, measuring an impressive 80,000 square feet over two floors. A second flagship opened at suburban Vancouver's Metropolis at Metrotown in December of 2014, spanning 48,000 square feet.
Last week, two more Sport Chek flagships opened, both in the Greater Toronto Area -- at Yorkdale Shopping Centre, and at Square One in Mississauga. The Yorkdale store spans 45,000 square feet and features 257 Samsung screens, a digital portal entrance, 40 in-store tablets and 200 employees. The 75,000 square foot Square One store features 226 Samsung screens, an event space with two curved LED walls, 46 in-store tablets and 225 employees. Both stores feature a network of digital signage, interactive technology and include next-generation features such as:
- Interactive ski, snowboard and golf video walls -- providing recommended product suggestions based on the individual customer's needs and abilities,
- An RFID shoe wall, allowing customers to scan shoes and pull up detailed product information
- eCommerce screens, leveraging the full functionality of SportChek.ca for an expanded product selection,
- 3D holograms, showcasing the latest sport tech product and accessories,
- Interactive kids' zones, with games mirroring major team sports aimed at engaging children in-store,
- State of the art shop-in-shops, from top brands such as Nike, Under Armour, Adidas and The North Face, offering customers an unparalleled assortment of the latest products,
- Community Hub, provides a lounge area where sports enthusiasts can have a seat and connect on community events, product advice, sports games and more, and
- Tech Shop, for shoppers to engage with the latest and greatest from the leading sport technology brands such as Fitbit, GoPro and Garmin.
FGL Sports' Eric Watt explained how Sport Chek's flagships utilize features tested in its 'lab' stores, both located in Toronto -- one on Yonge Street north of Eglinton Avenue, and another which recently opened at Maple Leaf Square. The latter also features a first-of-its-kind TSN broadcast studio.
Mr. Watt explained that Sport Chek's next flagship will open in April of 2016 on Vancouver's Robson Street, spanning 53,000 square feet over three levels. The store replaces a former Chapters book store and according to Mr. Watt, will be flooded by natural light from its ample windows. In July of 2016, Sport Chek will open a 75,000 square foot flagship at Toronto's CF Sherway Gardens, next to Saks Fifth Avenue, in a retail space formerly occupied by a 225,000 Sears store.
Ultimately, Mr. Watt explained that Sport Chek will look to operate between 10 and 12 flagships in Canada. He then went on to say that the company is ultimately looking to eventually operate approximately five flagships in the Toronto area, four stores in Greater Vancouver, and one flagship location each in Edmonton, Calgary, and possibly Ottawa. Future stores will ideally be located in Canada's top malls, according to Mr. Watt.
Photos in this article profile Sport Chek's new Square One flagship, and were supplied by the retailer.