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London store adds to USA Pro's game plan

Women's sports retailer USA Pro has set out ambitious plans to open 40 UK stores in the next five years, after its retail debut on Broadwick Street in London's Soho next month.

Managing director and founder Kevin Jarvis said the plans represented a shift in strategy for the group, which until now has only operated in the UK through 150 wholesale accounts.

The London flagship will enable UK customers to view the entire USA Pro range, as well as showcase how the brand looks when fully merchandised.

"The flagship is the first step in our expansion," said Jarvis. "Three stores will also follow in China next year."

The 1,600sq ft store will include an office, a showroom and 1,220sq ft of trading space. It will be fitted out in white glass and brushed aluminium, with acrylic fixtures and hangers.

There will also be 19 TV screens to act as "virtual sales assistants", enabling customers to check stock availability and see the clothing worn on a catwalk.

Jarvis added that the aggressive roll-out would not come at the expense of the firm's wholesale arm. "Our wholesale business will grow alongside the stores on the basis of brand positioning and increasing brand awareness," he said.

Michael Conitzer, founder and chief executive of King's Road Sporting Club in Chelsea, west London, which stocks USA Pro, welcomed the group's move into retail. "I'm happy to see a brand with such a big offer opening shops," he said.

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