Success no sweat for Under Armour
Adrian Back talks to Under Armour about rapid rise and move to the Middle East
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