Chris Lee, the managing director of JJB Sports’ lifestyle division, has kicked off a charm offensive with brands and suppliers outlining his vision to revamp Original Shoe Company into a ‘premium’ and ‘independent-style’ chain.
Lee, who also owns lifestyle independent Microzine in Liverpool, is thought to be considering a name change for the chain, which would see the “Shoe Company” elements dropped in favour of simply “Originals”. He also plans to create individual shop fits for all of OSC’s 60 stores in an attempt to replicate the feeling of an independent boutique in each location.
Lee is understood to have presented his vision to a number of brands in the past few days in a bid to lure more premium labels. Sources told Drapers that he had approached the OSC overhaul project with his “Microzine-head on” – Lee’s Microzine concept, which he developed in 2003 was built around the idea of selling upmarket and exclusive products in a quirky environment.
Lee is also understood to have developed a radical colour-changing fascia for the proposed concept in an attempt to make the chain stand out from its high street rivals which include JD, Scotts, USC, Republic and Envy.
It is thought that when the button is pushed on the OSC revamp, JJB will set an ambitious roll-out strategy to remodel up to 18 stores a quarter.
Lee is also plotting to exploit the Slazenger brand, which JJB Sports licenses from Sports Direct, as an own label for OSC. He is expected to produce a range with a Lyle & Scott-style handwriting.
One brand manager said: “The plans look fantastic, Chris seems to want to take OSC down the Microzine route and go up against the likes of Size?.”
However another supplier was more sceptical. He said: “The cost alone involved with generating so many different shop fits will be enormous and the roll-out programme is tough if it’s going to be so fast. Chris really needs some good brands to back him if he wants a cool edge to it.”
JJB Sports bought Original Shoe Company from Sports Direct last December.