Suc­cess no sweat for Un­der Ar­mour

Adrian Back talks to Un­der Ar­mour about rapid rise and move to the Mid­dle East

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE - Adrian@7days.ae

Twenty years ago Un­der Ar­mour sports­wear was be­ing sold out of the back of a col­lege foot­ball player’s car.

Now the firm is in 60 coun­tries and posts an­nual sales of $4 bil­lion.

It has been a re­mark­able suc­cess story, with founder Kevin Plank orig­i­nally de­sign­ing ap­parel as he was tired of chang­ing out of sweat-soaked t-shirts af­ter Amer­i­can foot­ball prac­tice back in the US.

Thee sports cloth­ing and ac­ces­sories com­pany is hop­ing to make an im­pact in the Mid­dle East.

Un­der Ar­mour opened its first spe­cial­ity re­tail store in Dubai at City Cen­tre Mirdif in Fe­bru­ary and plans to ex­pand rapidly across the UAE.

To bol­ster the brand’s en­trance into a new mar­ket, the firm also launched an event to chal­lenge the UAE’s fittest ath­letes.

The Un­der Ar­mour Chal­lenge, tak­ing place to­mor­row on JBR, will see 500 con­tes­tants take on eight gru­elling boot camp drills.

With thou­sands of ath­letes com­pet­ing to make the fi­nal cut, Ju­raj Stiksa, CEO of Un­der Ar­mour Mid­dle East, be­lieves it has been the per­fect way to in­tro­duce the brand.

“It’s not only a great way to get the brand out there, but we are giv­ing them a chance to ex­pe­ri­ence the brand,” Stiksa told 7DAYS.

The sec­ond stage of the launch will see Un­der Ar­mour part­ner­ing up with lo­cal gyms and sport­ing teams. But as Stiksa ex­plains, it is im­por­tant for the firm to be as­so­ci­ated with the right part­ners.

“We don’t want to be in just big chains, we want to be as­so­ci­ated with cool gyms; bou­tique gyms,” he said. “You don’t have to be the big­gest to get the best im­pact in the mar­ket. That is what we are look­ing for. In the next two to three months you will see our logo with teams and gyms.”

Find­ing the right am­bas­sadors is key for Un­der Ar­mour.

“We want young, fear­less and ag­gres­sive guys,” said Stiksa. “At some point in the past they have been told they can’t suc­ceed but they have over­come. Th­ese are the ath­letes we want.”

Two-time ma­jor win­ner Jor­dan Spi­eth has helped Un­der Ar­mour ex­pand into golf ap­parel while Golden State War­riors’ NBA su­per­star Steph Curry is seen as an im­por­tant for the Mid­dle East mar­ket.

“Curry is a great am­bas­sador as he matches the story of the brand. He was al­ways the un­der­dog but has worked in­cred­i­bly hard to make it,” said Stiksa. “With the pop­u­lar­ity of bas­ket­ball in the UAE we hope he can help us cap­i­talise on this. The firm plans to open 12-15 stores in the GCC by the end of the year.

“The Mid­dle East was al­ready one of the big­gest on­line mar­kets for Un­der Ar­mour so we just have to make it eas­ier for con­sumers to pur­chase the brand,” added Stiksa. “Elite ath­letes may wear our at­tire but we are for ev­ery­one who wants to per­form to their very best.”

TOP OF HIS GAME: Top golfer Jor­dan Spi­eth is among the brand’s big­gest sign­ings

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