Canadian yogawear business Lululemon is poised to take over the Chelsea store currently occupied by iconic independent King’s Road Sporting Club, which is closing its doors for the last time this month after 21 years.
KRSC – which boasts royalty and celebrities among its clientele – is shutting down on April 27, with owner Michael Conitzer telling Drapers rent increases had made it impractical for such a weather-dependent store to continue.
Although closing down signs on the windows state he is looking for alternative premises, Conitzer said he had received no offers and had no plans to continue trading as an online-only business, saying this would be too challenging.
“It would be a hell of a thing to put all this online,” he said. “We have more than 14,000 SKUs and unless you duplicate that online, it doesn’t work.”
Conitzer added that with swimwear – one of KRSC’s best-selling divisions – women wanted to try before they bought, which made selling via online especially difficult.
“Our last day is April 27, we will have a wake on the evening of April 27, and then that will be it – I’m gone,” he said.
Separately, Drapers understands that Canadian business Lululemon Athletica – which last week opened its first full retail store on Long Acre, Covent Garden – is looking at the KRSC unit.
Lululemon chief executive Laurent Potdevin confirmed he was looking at other London locations, and that one in “that area” would likely be the next to open, but declined to comment on specifics.
Conitzer also declined to say who was taking over the unit, but added: “I would very much hope that someone in the sports business like Lululemon would take our place.”
Lululemon is considering other UK and European cities, although Potdevin would not give details.
However, he did say the business was looking to hire a local London team, which would design a proportion of product sold in the UK, saying there would be one European team but “the UK has enough scale that it will have its own team”.
“We are building new communities, looking at not just the UK but the rest of Europe and Asia,” he said. “We had a long discussion and decided that as the brand steps out of North America and becomes really global, we need to build a deep local management team that understands the intricacies of the local market and how we are going to be relevant.”
* A full interview with Potdevin will appear in this week’s issue of Drapers.