My opinion on the new Courir store concept
Part of the Go Sport Group, one of the main sporting goods chain in France, Courir is an athletic footwear and apparel retailer which caters to the sneaker enthusiast. The brand comprises nearly 200 stores, mainly in France, and achieved €270m in sales revenu last year.
The sneaker category has proven very dynamic in France over the last two decades. To get the most of the market growth, sneaker specialists such as Courir, Foot Locker or JD Sport have opened a constant stream of new stores in the country. Meanwhile, giant sport manufacturers like Nike or Adidas have created flagship stores, home of innovation and vibrant customer experience. Not to forget digital pure players which offer the most comprehensive selection of products. Pretty fierce competition to say the least.
To stay ahead of the game, Courir has recently unveiled the latest iteration of its store concept at Forum des Halles, a leading shopping center located in downtown Paris. Since the brand has decided to take advantage of the opening of a new aisle in the mall near the metro gates, the former store in the same mall has been shut down.
Right from the entrance, we can easily figure out that the store is broken into 2 main areas : one for men on the right hand side and one for women on the left hand side. The central area is dedicated to promotion, digital experiences, fitting room and the checkout counter.
Signed by French retail design agency Carré Noir, the new concept is both elegant and neat. No question about that. But the main change is that the store is now significantly more appealing to women, a strategic target in this business. The store has adopted fashion retail codes which help Courir to differentiate from Foot Locker which stores are usually packed with young men aggressively in search for trendy sneakers.
Courir’s new concept has also succeeded in combining and merging smoothly signage elements from both global brands and in-house marketing campaigns. The end result provides an urban and chic atmosphere, perfectly in line with the architectural concept.
The digital area is poised to encourage visitors to take both selfies and “selfeet”. I don’t think that these fixtures are a game changer in this industry but will undoubtedly appeal to those who love to share their new sneakers crush within their community.
The checkout area showcases the new “Sneaker Lovers” brand signature alongside with a click and collect zone which turns out to be a consistent channel of sales for the brand now. For my non-French audience, I would like to point out that the word “Sneakers” is still quite unknown over here. For some reasons, when it comes to sport shoes, French people (and even youngsters) are using the awkward word “baskets”. As a consequence, I wonder if all visitors will get this brand statement.
I also pointed out that the concept did not feature a discount price image even though the sales period was still on when I visited the store.
To wrap-up this store visit, I note that the Courir new store concept reflects a consistent evolution of the brand positioning that should help the brand to differentiate from its competitors. But, even though the decor has changed, the assortment has remained the same. I would have found it logical that the new concept would have come with a growing number of exclusive products or capsule collections from niche brands. And this status quo could be a pain point. I had the opportunity to walk around the shoppping mall and the streets outside after the visit and I was struck by the number of shoe stores that feature the same brands and line-ups as those seen in the Courir stores. I hope that Courir’s new look and feel will be sufficient to draw more customers and increase sales.
Finally, I think that there is a broadening gap between the brand (Courir means “to run” in French) and the new store concept which is not about sport performance at all. It will be insightful to see if customers (and above all women) will ultimately consider Courir as a fashion brand.