Gap Inc. brand Athleta, announced it will enter Canada later this year, marking the performance lifestyle brand’s first company owned expansion outside the United States. Athleta plans to launch e-commerce late this summer followed by opening retail stores at Yorkdale Shopping Center in North York, Ontario and Park Royal Shopping Centre in West Vancouver, British Columbia in fall 2021.
The brand plans to open between 20 and 30 stores a year, adding to its existing profitable fleet of over 200 stores across the United States. Athleta stores remain top customer acquisition and brand awareness vehicles and are a key component of the growth and future of the brand. New entry points, including wholesale partnerships and international expansion through franchise and company operated stores, are strategic steps towards growing the brand to two billion dollars in net sales by 2023. In 2020, Athleta surpassed one billion dollars in net sales and had 16% annual sales growth.
“International expansion is a key component of our growth strategy to reach two billion dollars in net sales by 2023, and we are very proud to introduce Athleta to customers in Canada,” said Mary Beth Laughton, President and CEO, Athleta. “As a purpose-driven brand, we are excited to expand our community of empowered and confident women and girls to Canada and bring them a differentiated and inclusive offering in the performance lifestyle category.”
Athleta will also launch an e-commerce site in Canada, making its assortment of sustainable, inclusive, versatile product available to all Canadian consumers. Product will be fulfilled by the Gap Inc. Distribution Center in Brampton, Ontario, eliminating international taxes and lengthy shipping times for Canada-based consumers. E- commerce in Canada is fast-growing, and the pandemic further accelerated the channel’s growth. Additionally, Athleta experienced double-digit online growth in the U.S. last year, and 60% percent of the business was generated from e-commerce.
As a customer-led brand, Athleta conducted extensive research to understand the behaviors of the Canadian consumer. The findings support customer demand for a purpose-driven performance lifestyle brand. Athleta’s differentiated brand focus on wellness, sustainability and inclusivity coupled with versatile product will resonate across geographies into the Canadian market.
Athleta is a purpose-driven company with a mission of empowering a community of active women and girls. Inclusivity is core to Athleta’s brand DNA and in turn, it will bring a differentiated product offering to the Canadian market including extended sizing in approximately 500 styles in stores and online.
Athleta believes in using business as a force for good and became a certified B Corp in 2018. The brand will join the over 230 certified B Corp businesses operating in Canada. Today, over 70% of Athleta product is made from sustainable materials.