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Footwear, international driving changes at Under Armour's campus

Under Armour's Tide Point headquarters in Locust Point.
Under Armour's Tide Point headquarters in Locust Point. (Baltimore Sun photo by Algerina Perna)

As Under Armour gets set to launch new running shoes next spring and open dozens of its Brand House stores across the globe next year, some changes are underway at the Locust Point headquarters.

For one thing, the brand plans to consolidate its footwear operation — rededicating the Cascade building for that fast-growing division — by next spring, CEO and founder Kevin Plank told analysts on a call last week after announcing third quarter earnings.

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"We believe footwear will be as big or bigger than apparel," Plank said.

The reshuffling on campus comes as Under Armour plans to introduce two more versions of its Speedform running shoes, the $130 Gemini and the $100 Vent.

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Under Armour also is constructing what Plank referred to as a "lab" store, also on the Locust Point campus to aid in the brand's international store growth.

The sports apparel maker will have 80 Brand House stores by the end of the year, mostly outside the U.S., and plans to open 100 more in 2015, mostly in China. Most are non-company owned and run by Under Armour partners.

"In a lot of these markets, it's the first time a lot of people have heard of our brand and the first time they are interacting with our brand," Under Armour CFO Brad Dickerson in a recent interview. The international stores "give consumers the opportunity to see the full product offerings."

The lab store in the headquarters' Cheer building will help set a standard for how stores around the globe should look and display merchandise, Dickerson said.

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It will give Under Armour "the ability to work with the international retail team about the standardization of how we look and feel in retail across the globe," including people who work in store design and merchandising, he said.

"We have partners opening a lot of stores in China and the Philippines, and we are opening stores in Latin America," he said. "So [the store offers] the ability to bring all these people together and have them work in one retail footprint, [to see] what should be consistent and what can be unique and different."

lorraine.mirabella@baltsun.com

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