JD Sports Fashion has relaunched Open, its branded fashion concept, amid speculation it is considering rebranding its 38-store Scotts business to the fascia.
JD Sports Fashion quietly relaunched the Open concept after almost two years in Bolton last month, in a site adjacent to a JD store in Market Place, Drapers has learned. It is also believed to be planning to open a second store under the fascia in the MK Centre in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire.
Sources in the market told Drapers that the trial was a precursor to a possible rebranding of the sportswear giant’s Scotts fascia to Open. Scotts is believed to be underperforming the rest of the group’s chains including Bank, its more premium branded fashion concept, and the chain has yet to make a profit under JD’s ownership. For the year to January 31, Scotts halved its operating loss before exceptional items but these still stood at £1 million. The group bought the chain in 2004. Its stores are mostly in the north and Midlands.
Meanwhile, rival chains such as USC are undergoing radical strategy rethinks, which could prove a further threat to Scotts if successful. The Open store in Bolton stocks the likes of Firetrap, Henleys, Adidas, Lacoste, and Original Penguin - essentially a similar brand mix to that within Scotts. One source said: “Scotts hasn’t been trading as well as Bank. There’s a feeling that the Scotts shopper, who was younger, has grown up and the chain isn’t drawing in new younger customers. A fascia like Open may have more resonance with that shopper.”
Another source said: “The management feels that the Scotts name is not right and gives the impression more of an owner-operator type business that they don’t want.”There was also speculation that JD could look to offload some Scotts stores, although this was unsubstantiated as Drapers went to press.
JD Sports originally had two Open stores in Liverpool and Glasgow but the concept was axed in September 2007, when the business went through a period of consolidation within its fashion division.
The original Open stores were large, mini-department store concepts selling upmarket designer branded sports fashion. The Liverpool Open store was 45,000sq ft and sold brands including Boss Orange, Holland Esquire and Etienne Ozeki. The concept was well received by the trade but failed to generate the sales JD had hoped for.
JD Sports Fashion was unavailable for comment.