For Lew Kimble, Executive Vice President and CEO of Foot Locker International, the focus is clear: grow the company and grow the athletic industry. Not that Foot Locker isn’t already a giant — with more than 3,400 stores across the world, it is the leading global retailer of athletic footwear and apparel. In Europe alone, the company has huge reach, with more than 800 stores across 19 countries.
However, there are key markets which until now have remained untapped. “If you read Nike’s information, or Adidas’, there are big opportunities in Asia, in places like South Korea, China, Japan, Malaysia, and the Philippines,” says Lew. “This is a whole region where the athletic industry has seen success, but Foot Locker hasn’t yet played in that area.”
“Likewise Latin America has also seen lot of success in the athletic industry — particularly when you consider the World Cup and now the Olympics being held in Brazil. So although not all of those areas will work for Foot Locker in the near term, there are still clearly some opportunities there when we look at our ability to take advantage of the things we can bring to the consumer in those regions that aren’t available today. It is a chance for us to look at where else we can grow going forward.”
Ironically, one of the things that has perhaps hindered this growth is actually one of Foot Locker’s best assets: it always puts the consumer first. What this means is that it tailors its offering to each market. “We are very fortunate to have a strong leadership group, as well as terrific associates throughout the business. That means we can adapt and be successful in various local markets.We bring in the essence of what Foot Locker means, but at the same time we work very hard at being culturally relevant,” Lew explains.