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#RetailEXPO19 Daring to be different at The Sports Edit

By Kathy Oxtoby

An entrepreneur is making waves in the activewear market by combining a physical retail experience with community engagement.

Nick Paulson-Ellis, founder of The Sports Edit (TSE) is focused on the value of physical retail as well as the ecommerce favoured by many new brands, he told delegates to RetailEXPO this week.

Launched in late 2015, TSE is targeted at filling a gap in the UK market for “a multi-brand active wear retailer, providing a distinctive and varied mix of both emerging and established brands curated to meet the key needs of performance, fashion, and versatility”, said Paulson-Ellis.

More than just a seller of sportswear, he said TSE is about “a lifestyle, not just what you wear to work out in”.

The business is built around three pillars – content, community and commerce. Its digital channels supply original content created by TSE, including anything from yoga advice to clean eating and sustainable sportswear.

Alongside that TSE is building a community through working with leading instructors, gyms and studios, creating social content and putting on a range of events for customers, including high intensity classes and pilates.

The company’s focus on ecommerce, is about understanding its demographic, “and ensuring we are delivering a range of brands and products unlike any other European sports retailer,” said Paulson-Ellis said.

TSE’s flagship store in Coal Drops Yard, King’s Cross London, was designed by Design4Retail, and features “a palate of colours that help shoppers find their own persona, from pastels for yoga customers to lime green for the cardio junky”, said agency founder Chris Baker.

Paulson-Ellis said “investing in wellness and self-care was at the core of the TSE ethos”.

“This is fulfilled not just by product ranges, but also enhancing the knowledge and confidence of customers, through blog articles and social content online, and supported in person by the CDY store and its adjacent spaces.”

He said TSE was “striving to blur the lines between retail, leisure and wellness, and deliver a blend of content, community and commerce, which we hope shows how TSE has dared to be different within the sports retail market”.

Paulson-Ellis said that while “physical retail in its current form and scale will not survive, we should also appreciate that the ‘death of the high street’ is too simplistic a phrase… In 20 years, there will be fewer stores, but there will also be better, more engaging stores as retailers begin to understand the need to realign strategies to accommodate e-commerce. As the higher sales will inevitably be through e-commerce, the right stores will be those that support e-commerce,” he said.