While putting on hold the planned rebranding of its higher-end Martes Sport Premium stores, Poland’s largest sporting goods retailer is continuing to add new stores to its chain and to expand internationally, in spite of the coronavirus epidemic.

Martes Sport has opened a total of 16 new locations under its eponymous banner since the beginning of this year, including ten in Poland and two in Romania in the 60 days since restrictions on non-essential retail operations were softened at the beginning of May. It has also enlarged four of its Polish stores.

The door count has reached a total of more than 350 units with a total net sales area of over 220,000 square meters. Martes says the expansion wave will continue for the balance of 2020, resulting in a total of at least 30 new openings for this year.

Most of the new store openings will take place in Poland, but the company is making progress also in the Czech Republic, where it currently has 11 shops. It entered Romania at the beginning of this year, and it plans to have six stores in operation there by the year-end.

The Polish company was originally targeting ten units in Romania by the year-end. However, Martes has launched the Romanian version of its regular www.sklepmartes.pl web store, which came in very handy during the recent retail lockdowns. It offers basically the same range of products as its regular Martes Sport stores, consisting of a blend of private labels such as Iguana, Elbrus, Aquawave, IQ and Huari with third-party brands including those for which it has exclusive licensing or distribution rights for Poland ,and other countries, such as Arena, Brugi, Colmar and Hi-Tec. Iguana has also its own transactional website.

In a major strategic move, the company launched a new web store in Poland at the end of 2018, www.fitanu.com (same as “fit anew”), which offers a selection of higher-priced items by top brands like Adidas, Nike and Puma, focusing on sports fashion for more affluent clientele. It follows largely the same concept as its eight physical Martes Sport Premium stores. The original plan was to rebrand them this spring as Fitanu.com, but its implementation has been postponed to next year.

By then, Martes wants to remodel the existing offline Martes Sport Premium stores, launching an app that will provide customers with a seamless online/offline customer experience, and adding new brands. It wants a presence for Fitanu.com in all the major cities of Poland. Store sizes will range from 900 to 2,500 square meters vs. less than 800 m² for the regular Martes Sport locations, some of which are only around 350 m² in size.

Following a business model somewhat similar to that of CCC Shoes & Bags, a large Polish shoe and leathergoods retailer that has more than 1,200 stores and important websites such as eobuwie.pl all over Central and Eastern Europe, Martes is aiming to develop its operations all over the region, entering also the Baltic states, where some of its private labels are already sold by third parties.

Unlike CCC, which is publicly trading on the stock exchange, the Martes Sport Capital Group is reluctant to share financial figures. The 25-year-old company claims to be the biggest privately owned sports group in Poland. According to an interesting and captivating video presentation that shows the multiple facets of the Martes group, its total turnover reached 1,075 million zloty (€239.5m-$272.3m) last year, compared with 897 million in 2017.

The total includes a large wholesale business with the group’s own brands and those it licenses and distributes. The wholesale and retail segments employ a total of more than 3,500 people and are supported by a 34,000-square-meter warehouse.