Interview with Dragana Krstic, General Manager at Kvantum Sport, the official distributor for Under Armour in Romania, Bulgaria, and Croatia.
For the introduction, please give us an overview of your brand and what makes your brand stand out in comparison to your competition?
Our story has always been about hard work, grit, and the will to find a way.
Our brand mission states that Under Armour sports brand makes you better. Our vision is to inspire people with sports performance solutions they never knew they needed, but can not imagine living without once they have tried our products.
Under Armour created something called a HUMAN PERFORMANCE SYSTEM. It is an ecosystem in which sports performers live, train, compete and recover at the end of each cycle. Under Armour creates products that will help sports lovers achieve their goals.
When was your brand established and how many stores do you currently have? Have you had any new store openings or new market entries during the pandemic and where?
Under Armour was established in 1996, when Kevin Plank a young Football player from the University of Maryland wanted to solve a problem. T-shirts that all players wore underneath their armour were easily soaked in sweat, which made them heavier and as a result negatively impacted their performance. Kevin Plank created the original performance T-shirt that wicked sweat and regulated body temperature to make athletes cooler, drier, lighter, and better. Since the creation of this new type of T-shirt, Under Armour has grown into the most innovative brand in all sports categories.
Right now, in the region where I am responsible, we have 6 stores in Romania, 4 stores in Bulgaria and 3 stores in Croatia.
We have opened 2 stores post-pandemic, one in the Romanian town Brasov and one in the Bulgarian capital Sofia.
We are going to open one more store in Constanta, Romania, hopefully, by the end of this year. All other projects are subject to discussions that are about to happen in the following years.
What is the typical size of your stores and what locations are interesting for your further expansion?
The typical size of our stores is around 200 sqm. This is the optimal size for Under Armour Brand House. Our Outlet locations are larger and their sizes are defined after a thorough analysis of the location and our needs.
Shopping centres are still our main focus for our stores since Under Armour is a premium brand.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, what forms of marketing do you use?
Digital marketing in all of its forms is the most relevant form of marketing today. We believe that the right blend of social media, collaboration with influencers, and appearances create a strong background for a brand. It is important to maintain the right balance and the right amount of each of the forms in order to ensure the sustainability of one’s digital activity and impact.
As eCommerce is rising in popularity, tell us how has your online sales performed since the beginning of the pandemic and do you believe that online shopping will replace the need for physical stores in the future?
During the complete lockdown, e-commerce was the main source of sales. After the lockdown, online sales have continued to rise and advance. Even though we had to adapt to online shopping faster than anticipated a few years earlier, physical stores are not going to disappear in the near future, at least not in this region.
We are social beings, that need tangible products, therefore, I believe that the omnichannel approach is the best solution for the current state of affairs.
In your opinion how has the retail market changed since the beginning of the pandemic and have consumer habits changed? How has your retail sector been affected by the pandemic?
Customers have become more aware of their options in terms of sales channels. This has influenced their buying behaviour, but also the importance of creating convenience in the process.
Likewise, the choices were shifted and preferences as well. What is important for us and all retailers is to never stop adapting and improving. It is also important to ensure variety and choice to customers. My advice is to set and follow trends, keep moving forward and aim to please in the new normal.
What is next for your brand and how do you see the future for retail?
Under Armour is committed to making people better, even during these unprecedented times. Therefore, we will not stop improving and developing during and post-pandemic periods.
I believe that physical stores will still have their position in the retail world in this region. Even though e-commerce had strong growth and is still developing, shopping centres should ensure the availability of brands and variety in terms of goods and services offered. Of course, it is also essential to ensure enough space for social distancing in malls as this trend is here to stay for a while, as it seems.