Running Insight 2.18.2020

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THE PEOPLE ISSUE

THE NEWSMAGAZINE FOR RUNNING SPECIALTY RETAILERS / RUNNINGINSIGHT.COM

FEBRUARY 18, 2020

A HAPPY

EMPLOYEE IS A GOOD EMPLOYEE HOW TO HIRE, TRAIN AND RETAIN YOUR PEOPLE

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Hiring 101

THE PEOPLE ISSUE

Consultant Leslie Cunningham provides a two-part primer on how to hire and build a strong bench.

PART 1: CREATING A COMPANY VISION TO ATTRACT AND RETAIN THE BEST PEOPLE. offer: A career. We have to take run specialty seriously. And we do this by: 1. Great vision 2. Systematic recruiting process 3. Internal training program 4. Long-term retention strategy Let’s start with your company vision. Do you have one? If not, start here. Create it. Talk to businesses around you about their vision. Learn from successful retailers in and outside of your industry about their vision. Ultimately your vision needs to wake

RUNNING INSIGHT ® is a registered trademark of Diversified Communications. © 2020 all rights reserved. Running Insight is published twice each month, is edited for owners and top executives at running specialty stores and available only via email.The opinions by authors and contributors to Running Insight are not necessarily those of the editors or publishers. Articles appearing in Running Insight may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the express permission of the publisher. Divesified Communications, 121 Free St, Portland, ME 04101; (207) 842-5500.

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you up in the morning — every morning! If you have a vision you need to tell it well and then watch it inspire your staff. Take it one step further and visualize your vision daily with your staff. Learn what it means to them and how they are going to use it every day. Then learn how it played out. What were the celebrations, stories and insight from each day? Second is to have a systematic recruiting process. Take your time. Retail gets stuck in a scarcity mindset, which creates unnecessary reaction to hiring versus an approach

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etail is not dead. In fact, retail accounts for one-in-four American jobs. So, why is turnover so high? Why is it so hard to find good people? Will it ever get better? Yes! We have to have a wholesale shift in our thinking and change the way we view our approach to hiring. If our goal is to maintain excellent staff and staffing levels we have to increase our understanding of what run specialty has to



Hiring 101 (continued) that we are always recruiting. We also have to cast wider nets and let go of the belief that we have to hire runners. Leverage social media. Branch out in finding your next staff member in the fashion retail sector. We must get really smart about our content that we are marketing out to the world about our career opportunities. If you read your job post, would you want to apply? Next we have to create an internal training program. This ensures a robust culture of training and feedback. We must always be training. We tend to use the thought, “Well I don’t have time to train.” You do. Start with 10 minutes a day and give yourself permission to not train on Friday through Sunday, since

those are typically busy days. Create training that achieves the goals of the organization. If your units per transaction have dropped, spend a week with this as your focus. Make sure your staff understands what UPTs are and why they are important to the company and how they can influence this number. Most importantly, make sure that when you are doing the training that your staff is showing you that they understand it. Yes the ugly “R” word: Use role-play for this. After the training watch the numbers grow and celebrate the win. To understand that retail is a career allows you to create your tribe. And building a strong tribe increases morale and ultimately top line sales.

Lastly, create a long-term retention strategy. First understand that employment is a benefit. To offer a place to work is creating security that most owners don’t get credit for giving. Give yourself credit. You are making a difference. Also, identify growth opportunities. You have a team of people that come to the table with other skills and motivators they were not hired for. Find out what those are and match them to what your company needs. Benefits. Not your typical health insurance. What you are offering that is non-monetary? Create a list and be excited about what you offer. Do not let the fact that you don’t have a 401K option be the reason you cannot

You have chosen a career that has to work extra at hiring, or it will be the forever thorn in your side. find a solid bench. Payroll will always be the largest expense no matter what field you are in. So make it productive. Create a win-win format that has employees contributing back to the company. You must create a structure and process with your staff that tracks sales and ultimately increase their contribution beyond what we are compensating them for. Remember retail is not dead. So, how is your brand keeping up with the evolution? n

THERE IS NO MAGIC DUST WHEN IT comes to hiring. Hiring is hard work that takes focused effort and energy. And retail, like it’s counter-industry, hospitality, has a turnover rate of 60 percent according to nationalaverage. com, while the rest of the world hires at 16 percent. You have chosen a career that has to work extra at hiring, or it will be the forever thorn in your side. So, why did you get into specialty run to begin with? No really. To understand this answer will allow you to understand your passion. When you are clear on the passion, hiring becomes a part of your DNA. You can choose to dwell on the excuses for not having a strong team or you can choose to create a different path. A path that understands the specialty run differentiator that is a staff that can deliver a customer experience. Your job is to become an expert at the 4

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way you view your approach to hiring. You have to begin to hire for the core competencies of the position. In the specialty run industry there is a limiting belief or mindset that you have to hire runners. Runners aren’t necessarily great at sales. They are certainly relatable and can talk the same running

language as you do, which serves your need to relate with another runner, but it is not a core competency to sell on a retail sales floor. A foreign language (running language) can be taught. Knowing how to listen in the effort to outfit all the needs of your customer is the core competency. Where do you start? Job Description. What is your job description for each position you have in your company? Pull It Out. If you don’t have one, create it. The internet is your friend when it comes to job descriptions. Core Competency Words. Once you have your job description, get into it with a highlighter and pick out words that are the core competencies. These can be customer focused, empathetic, appreciating others, creative. Once you have highlighted the words for your position,

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PART 2: HOW TO MAKE HIRING A PART OF YOUR STORE’S DNA.


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Hiring 101 (continued) you must rank these words. What are your top five to seven? Define. Now the hard work begins. You must define what these ranked words mean for your company and the position. For example, if customer focus is your top core competency, then the definitions could be: • Responds to customers with a sense of urgency. • Follows through on customer request. • Is patient with customers. And the list goes on. Don’t limit yourself to how many definitions for each word. And remember this needs to be tied to your company vision, mission and culture.

Questions. Once you have defined the core competencies you get to create questions for your potential hires that show you life examples of their abilities. For example: • Give me an example of when you went out of your way for a customer. What was the outcome? • Give me an example of a situation when you improved the level of customer service in your organization. What did you do to improve it? What was the outcome? Now you are ready to start interviewing with a structure that allows you to hire for the position you need to fill. Happy hiring! n

About the author Leslie Cunningham is a master of maintaining relationships at The Mann Group. As a function of her role as Chief Strategy Officer she is creating awareness for independent specialty retailers on how to be the best versions of themselves and to get past the excuses that keep their business from growing. Leslie started her career in Salt Lake City working in Human Resources for the 2002 Winter Olympics. As an HR professional, her career has taken her down many paths, including the Ronald McDonald House, American Trans Air and United Healthcare. In 2010 she fulfilled a lifetime goal of publishing a book, “Imprints of Birth,” her journey to self-acceptance, which became her mission for all new mothers. To contact her: lcunningham@manngroup.net; 828-782-7188

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THE PEOPLE ISSUE

A Happy Employee is a Good Employee The path to happier, more engaged employees. / By Daniel P. Smith

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ince the turn of the century, Gallup has been tracking employee engagement figures — and the numbers don’t paint a rosy picture for employers. Only one-third of employees consider themselves engaged in their work — that is, enthusiastic about and committed to their job and workplace. In fact, the majority of employees place themselves in the “not engaged” category, which, according to Gallup, means they may be “generally satisfied, [but not] cognitively and emotionally connected to their work and workplace.” “They will usually show up to work and do the minimum required, but will quickly leave their company for a slightly better offer,” Gallup notes. That’s troubling news for employers given how employee engagement and business results tend to go hand in hand, affecting bottom-line driving elements such as customer service and staff turnover. “If employees are not engaged, a business is in trouble,” confirms John Stoker, president of DialogueWORKS, a UT-based company that helps clients improve leadership engagement. While run specialty employees tend to be more jazzed about their work than the general working populace, engagement is nevertheless something running store owners and operators must consistently mind given the high-touch nature of run specialty retail — and the ongoing challenges of finding and retaining talent. “Employees who are engaged enjoy what they do and feel they make a difference. This rubs off on customers as engaged employees ask questions, understand 8

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customers’ perspectives and present solutions,” says Stoker, who experiences this himself at his local running store – Runner’s Corner near Orem, UT, a frequent Best Running Stores in America honoree. “They understand they are there to serve custom-

Educate them on the frequent conditions customers encounter. Give them tips to diffuse testy situations. Knowledge, Stoker says, positions employees to do a solid job, while clearly defined expectations help staff members understand the particulars of their position. “A lack of understanding regarding their role and what’s necessary often leads to people simply doing their time before moving on,” Stoker says. 3. Let employees in. Many employees, particularly younger staff, want to be involved in something bigger and more important than themselves. In building community and helping people lead healthier, more active lives, running stores naturally pursue a noble mission that’s easy to support. Still, it’s important that running store leaders share their vision for the company and identify how employees strengthen the store’s efforts. “If people don’t know how they contribute, then the business is in trouble,” Stoker says. “Establish a vision, share it and give people purpose.”

ers and it shows.” Stoker, whose book, “Overcoming Fake Talk,” examines the principles of holding open and honest conversations with others, offers running retailers these nine tips to boost employee engagement: 1. Start with hiring. If someone isn’t passionate about health and wellness or isn’t much interested in interacting with or serving others, then they shouldn’t be on the payroll. “If the fundamentals aren’t there at the start, it’s a tough climb,” Stoker says. 2. Set employees up for success. Teach staff the questions to ask customers.

4. Be a leader who cares. Interact with staff on a personal level. Get to know their interests, background and goals. Be genuine and sincere in caring about them as human beings. “Empowering engagement almost sounds manipulative, but, really, we’re talking about relationships,” Stoker says. “If a leader isn’t interested in making genuine connections, then staff won’t be engaged. Employees get it if their leader cares about them as individuals and is there to help them be a better employee or individual.” 5. Offer help to anyone. Invite staff to be open with you about where they need help. Are they having

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“If employees are not engaged, a business is in trouble. Employees who are engaged enjoy what they do and feel they make a difference. This rubs off on customers as engaged employees ask questions, understand customers’ perspectives and present solutions.” JOHN STOKER, PRESIDENT DIALOGUEWORKS

In a high-touch business like run specialty retail, engaged employees are undeniable assets who help deliver enhanced customer service, reduce profit-draining turnover and drive the company’s overall performance.

trouble selling apparel? Are they struggling to balance home and work demands? Ask questions and encourage honest replies. “Employees are often reluctant to do this, but if leaders set a positive tone and assure employees that they’re willing to support, then growth happens and employees are more invested in their work,” Stoker says. 6. Take a moment. Mista kes will inevitably happen. An employee will screw up a special order or botch a customer return. When these missteps happen, Stoker urges retail leaders to resist “going off” or “taking shots.” Instead, treat such moments as learning experiences. Ask staff about their thought process or alternative ways they could have handled a situation. “A spirit of discovery opens the door to coaching and growth,” Stoker says. “Understand that most people come to work hoping 9

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to do a good job. Insulting them or using profanity might get people’s attention, but not in a good way that makes them enthusiastic about their job.” 7. Recognize good work. Credit employees for a job well done. When the business hits key metrics or staff juggle a particularly busy day, give them props. When an employee artfully handles a difficult customer, share praise. Yes, the paycheck is its own type of reward, but leaders who recognize high-quality work and provide feedback stimulate engagement. “This doesn’t happen often enough in the workplace, but employees appreciate knowing a leader recognizes their good work,” Stoker says. 8. Provide opportunities. If running store employees are enthusiastic about their work but do not see a path beyond the sales floor, it can lead them

to investigate other job opportunities. By understanding employees’ interests, goals and talents, leaders can bring team members into other areas of the business. By inviting employees to have a hand in buying accessories, managing races or overseeing social media, retailers encourage a deeper investment in the business. “By allowing them to grow and take on new roles, you help employees see it as their business as much as yours,” Stoker says. 9. Check yourself. Yes, a lot goes into operating a retail store and it’s easy to get bogged down in the minutiae, to grow frustrated or detach from the work by secluding yourself in the office. When leaders struggle to be engaged themselves, Stoker notes, employees notice and it’s far more likely they’ll become disengaged themselves. “It all starts with you,” Stoker reminds. n

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THE PEOPLE ISSUE

Be Creative To Hire the Best

Eight ways to secure top talent without offering more salary. / By Jeremy Eskenazi

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iring in North America has not been this challenging in a very long time — and the running retail sector is certainly no exception. The employment rate is at an all-time high and top candidates have been able to negotiate great packages for themselves as some get multiple offers. As you start looking for the next superstar to further your company’s goals, deciding how hard you can compete for talent is important. While there are trends making candidate relationship-building easier, money is still a primary driver for candidates. An important lesson many learn is that salary has traditionally been king. And this king is powerful because it compounds year over year on your list of expenses. Not every company can spend more now, but every company wants to attract and retain the best talent for their team. This is where the candidate experience and your store brand can be a strategic differentiator as you explore your flexibility to spend money. If we go back to cash being king for a moment, it’s important to remember that people don’t come to work just for money. Everyone wants to feel valued and work on interesting things for a great store or brand. As you think about experience, there are a few ways to minimize the amount of extra cash you need to help candidates consider your company over others. Understanding one-time costs versus compounding costs is a good starting point. If you can give someone an upfront, onetime cash bonus it will save your company 10

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money year-over-year compared to a larger starting salary. When you get into their second year of employment, having to raise salary by a percentage compounds the cost and can add much more to your operating costs than a one-time payment. Even hourly employees in lower earning roles that are in high demand can be swayed with small cash bonus up front to help you gain a competitive advantage. As you approach your budget and talent needs for the next few quarters, you may find you have less flexibility to offer bigger salaries to help you win the talent war. While everything has some cost, there are alternative areas you can invest in that cost much less and will not steadily rise like a salary does. Here are eight of them that might help you: 1. Offering flexibility. Whether it is the start and end time of the workday, a compressed work week or the offer to work from home at times, these are all coveted offerings. If the job allows for flexibility, it’s worth considering. 2. Covering perks. There are tons of creative offerings that matter to employees and are often available at a small cost. A few examples are subsidies for public transit, extra uniforms included on the company, meal services at work or delivered to the household, a monthly budget to use ride-sharing services instead of commuting, free or discounted laundry/ dry cleaning and popular gym or lifestyle

club memberships or discounts. 3. Job sharing or part-time work. Many people have their own reasons for wanting to work less than full time. Offering part-time or job-sharing options where two people perform what was once a full-time job can give you more coverage in talent and attract some amazing candidates who wouldn’t otherwise be interested. 4. Having good managers. A positive workplace culture is a competitive advantage. If you invest in managers who care about their teams and prioritize teaching and coaching employees, you will be able to attract, develop – and importantly – retain your top talent. It’s been proven many times that people work for people, not companies, so make sure your managers are good listeners, care about their people and can show empathy. 5. Offering hiring bonus/signing bonus. Because these are one-time costs, they don’t compound like salary does. A bonus can help you counter another offer and be equally attractive up front as many bonuses can be paid within the first three months and can have a condition of repayment if the employee leaves before a set amount of time. For hourly workers, a few hundred dollars up front can make a big difference in whether they decide if they want to work at your store. 6. Starting benefits coverage earlier.

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The traditional model for health care benefits in Canada and the United States has been to delay offering benefits for 90 days to get through a probation period. If you can offer these from Day One, especially in the United States where bridging health care costs can be very high, this is a great employee incentive. A company could also offer to reimburse existing health costs or pay for the previous employer’s benefits until the transition occurs.

8. Having modern work tools. This one may seem obvious as computers are a standard today, but in a bring-your-own-device era, offering a broad range to choose from or solid reimbursement plans for employees to have the latest and greatest is a draw. Think about workstations, cool collaboration spaces, highquality headsets, dual monitors and health snacks. These are all things that attract candidates looking to have a positive work experience.

7. Reimbursing education costs. Another great non-compounding benefit is education subsidies. Skills change quickly and the investment in learning benefits both the employee and the store in the long term.

Remember, money does reign as king. If you offer 30 percent less salary than your competitor, even this list will not help you win the talent war. However, if you offer 30 percent more salary, your balance

sheet might start to look a little funny and it will be difficult to sustain making above-market salary offers for many roles. The market is competitive and being creative with the advantages you can afford will help show candidates you care about their experience and that you understand what matters to them from a total offering perspective. n

As you start looking for the next superstar to further your company’s goals, deciding how hard you can compete for talent is important.

About the author Jeremy Eskenazi is an internationally recognized speaker, author of RecruitConsult! Leadership, and founder of Riviera Advisors, a boutique Recruitment/Talent Acquisition Management and Optimization Consulting Firm. For more: www.RivieraAdvisors.com.

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THE PEOPLE ISSUE

A Strong Return Two charities and Fleet Feet Richmond team up to help a local school.

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any of things that makes the running business special – employee involvement, personal fitting, sustainability, excellent product and a sense of community – came together in Virginia late last year in an event that involved three different facets of the run specialty industry. The story centers around a dilemma faced by the track team at John Marshall High School in Richmond, VA, back in December. A last-minute invitation to the Holiday Track Classic at Liberty University should have 12

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been something to celebrate, but it shined a light on the challenges many of the school’s athletes faced. John Marshall High School is filled with phenomenal kids – athletes and non-athletes alike – many of whom fall below the poverty line. Most of the members of the track team didn’t own a pair of spikes and many weren’t training in running shoes. With school resources already strained, coach Cary Beth Reynolds reached out to the Richmond non-profit Shood for help. Shood had previously visited JMHS prior

to cross-country practice earlier last year, where student-athletes were sized and were able to choose a pair of running shoes from the more than 100 pairs they brought with them that day. Almost two dozen shoes were given away that day, along with foot care bags and socks donated by Feetures. Shood is a unique shoe donation program where donated shoes are collected, graded and reconditioned (see sidebar on next page). Shoes in the best quality are selected and provided to recipients through a fitting process by local running store experts. That’s where Fleet Feet Richmond owner Jeff Wells enters the picture. With deep ties to the running industry – and with a commitment by the entire team to share their expertise with those who wouldn’t normally get that experience – Shood was founded by Robin Telfian and Wells in early 2017 and since then has distributed more than 4000 pairs of shoes to those who are homeless or living in poverty in the Richmond area. “Our customers are so generous donating their new or slightly used shoes to us because they know the good the shoes do for the unfortunate of our community,” says Wells, adding that publicity has helped its collections immensely in the past. “Once people find out about us they tend to be very generous.” Shood and Fleet Feet Richmond take the project to a higher level by not only distributing the shoes to under-served communities, but also providing the individual fitting process that Fleet Feet customers receive in-store. The goal is to find a better match between the recipient and the donated footwear, especially when there is a performance and competitive need by the runner. When Telifan and Wells heard that

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there was an urgent need at John Marshall High School, the team at Shood delivered. The Thursday night before the meet, more than 60 pairs of donated shoes, including track spikes, running shoes and even a pair of throwing shoes, were loaded into the back of a car for their debut at the Liberty meet. In less than 48 hours, these students went from having no track shoes to athletes with the same equipment as their competition. They showcased their talents and even had four athletes qualify for the prestigious state meet. The third piece in the puzzle is a company called Relay Returns, a full-service returns solutions for footwear brands. Relay receives and reconditions product and helps brands get that product quickly back into the retail stream or finds partners

SHOOD EXPLAINED

The inspiration for Shood came when co-founder Robin Telifan was volunteering at a local soup kitchen and a guest asked her about the running shoes she was wearing. “I wonder what happens to runner’s shoes after a big race,” the guest said — and a light bulb went on in Robin’s head. “Many runners tend to retire their shoes after about 400 miles. Getting those shoes on the feet of people in need, whose primary mode of transportation is walking, seemed like the right fit,” Telifan says. But what, exactly, is Shood? • Shood, which is based in Richmond, VA, stands for “Shoes for Good,” and it just happens to be pronounced “shoed.” Its mission is to collect men’s and women’s new and gently used athletic shoes, recondition them and distribute them to those who are homeless or living in poverty. • Many homeless and those who live in poverty rely on their feet for transportation. One in four residents in Richmond, VA, live below the poverty line. • The average runner goes through three pairs of shoes annually. These shoes may not be good for running any longer, but they are fine for Shood’s customers.

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such as Shood to distribute those that can not be resold. “Returns are an expensive distraction for brands,” points out Patton Gleason, president of Relay Returns, who was thrilled to find a non-profit partner with deep ties to the running industry. “While our reconditioning process keeps more inventory in the sales cycle, we are also responsible for finding outlets for the items that may not be sellable, but are still in usable condition.” One of those responsibilities, Gleason says, is to find non-profits such as Shood that align with the values of its partners. “Shood has been the perfect fit and Jeff and his team at Fleet Feet Richmond have a great model. They are using their uniquely run specialty talents to improve the quality of people’s lives.” n

• Since April, 2017, Shood has distributed more than 4000 pairs of shoes in the Richmond area. • Shood collects shoes with the help of partners such as Relay Returns, Fleet Feet and Sports Backers. Volunteers then clean and prep the shoes, adding new shoelaces or inserts if needed. “When it comes to distribution, our focus from the start was treating guests with dignity,” says Telifan. “We decided we didn’t want to just hand out shoes, we wanted to make sure they fit.” So Shood created what it called “Shood Shares,” its product giveaways where Fleet Feet Richmond owner Jeff Wells and his staff personally measure and fit every person who shows up. They track when each person last received shoes and its goal is to put shoes on its guests twice a year. “Shood Shares are basically mini-shoe stores, where every guest is personally sized and volunteers shop with them to find the proper pair of shoes,” Telifair explains. Socks and foot care bags generally come along with them as well. n

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No Need To Panic Running industry expects minor impact from coronavirus. / By Brian Metzler

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mid- to low-level product lines that have been affected. However, it should be noted that some materials and shoe components outsourced from China have delayed production in other countries. Several brands reported having to fast-track some of their special, next-generation long-distance racing models that are debuting this month at the U.S. Olympic Trials marathon in Atlanta, as well as some of the newfangled spikes that will debut prior to the U.S. Olympic Trials track meet in Eugene, Ore., in June.

While those will result in some financial impacts, it doesn’t appear that U.S. retailers will experience any significant lags in delivery schedules for summer and fall shoe deliveries. The most notable impact to the running industry has been the postponement of the 2020 World Athletics Indoor Championships, which had been slated for March 13-15 in Nanjing, China. That meet has been rescheduled for next winter. But given that it’s an Olympic year, only a handful of U.S. athletes were expected to compete in that meet. n

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Photo by Free To Use Sounds on Unsplash

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s the coronavirus continues to spread and impact lives and business in all corners of the world, there remains little immediate concern on its impact the front lines of running retail. A combination of factors – production already moved out of China because of tariff and cost concerns and the fact that Spring shipments were already on the water before the virus become common being two of the most prominent – have lessened the impact on store shelves for the time being. That hasn’t stopped people from talking about it. One social media page dedicated to running shoes even asked the question, “Can the Wuhan coronavirus be contracted by opening a box of running shoes that came from a factory in China?” The answer is no, it cannot. The deadly virus is primarily transmitted by sneezing, coughing and personal contact. But that was a real question and it portrays some of the uneasiness and unknowns about the illness as it relates to the running shoe industry. And understandably so. As of mid-February, the coronavirus outbreak in mainland China had killed more than 1300 people and infected more than 60,000 people worldwide. But the impacts to the running industry appear to have been relatively minor so far. Running Insight talked to representatives from several U.S.-based running shoe brands and found that most companies had restricted personnel travel to China beginning in late January. A few admitted experiencing canceled meetings, factory visits and production delays due to temporary workforce quarantines and factory shut-downs in China. Those delays and restrictions could extend through early March, but the impact of the coronavirus doesn’t appear to be widespread or hugely impactful as it has been to the electronics, automotive or the cruise industries. Because most leading running brands are producing most of their major shoe lines in factories in Vietnam, it’s generally


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Skechers Adds ‘Fam’ To Its Roster Anthony Famiglietti Joins Sneaker Brand In Pursuit of Sub-Four-Minute Mile ANTHONY FAMIGLIETTI, ONE OF THE stars of the 2019 Running Event in Austin, TX, in December, when he ran a sub-fourminute mile on a treadmill, has signed on as ambassador for Skechers. Foreshadowing this announcement, Fam, as he is known in the racing world, wore the Skechers GOrun Razor 3 Hyper when he ran 3:55 at TRE. Famiglietti is a two-time Olympian and six-time U.S. Champion and, in addition to his treadmill record at TRE, in January he established a two-mile treadmill global benchmark of 8:24 wearing the same shoes at the Endurance Exchange in Tempe. He is currently training to become only the fourth man in history to break a four-minute mile on the track after age 40. “It’s exciting to be joining Skechers, as that now means I’m on the same team as iconic runners Meb and Edward Cheserek, two of the greatest distance runners in history,” says Fam. “The new line of innovative Skechers performance products have afforded me a second life as an elite competitor.” Skechers’ new Hyper Burst foam “offers me a racing sneaker that is incredibly lightweight, yet radically durable enough to protect my battle-worn feet from decades of elite racing,” he adds. “I’ve been a longtime fan of their running shoes and of all the branded sneakers offered to me for my record attempt, I specifically sought out the Skechers GOrun Razor 3 Hyper.” “Anthony’s story of endurance and triumph at any age is inspirational,” adds Skechers president Michael Greenberg. “He illustrates a core value of our running collection — no matter what your experience or ability, it’s easy to find a perfect fit in our Skechers GOrun range. We love the guts, attitude and fortitude that he showed running a sub-fourminute treadmill mile.” Born in New York, Anthony Famiglietti’s collegiate career began at Appalachian State, where he was the 1996 Southern Conference Freshman of the Year in Cross Country, 1997

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Anthony Famiglietti ran a sub-four-minute mile at the Zwift booth at The Running Event 2019 wearing Skechers’ GoRun Razor 3 Hyper. Photo: Andrew Devereaux

Southern Conference XC Runner of the Year runner-up, and 1998 Southern Conference Champion in both the steeplechase and the 5000 meters. In 1998, he transferred to University of Tennessee and in 2000 placed second at the SEC Championships.

Post-college, Fam represented the United States in the 3000-meter steeplechase at Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008. He’s a three-time U.S. World Team member and a six-time U.S. champion in road and track, including 5K, 8K, 15K, and steeplechase. n

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running shorts Brooks Suing Brooks Brothers For Trademark Infringement A TENUOUS “COEXISTENCE” agreement between Brooks and Brooks Brothers clothing company and retailer has fallen apart as the running shoe and apparel company last week filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against the similarly named brand. The cause of the new dispute stems from Brooks Brothers’ 2018 move into selling athletic footwear, which Brooks contends will confuse consumers, damage its own marks and undermines that 1980 “coexistence” trademark agreement between the

companies. In a complaint filed in the federal court in Seattle, where it is based, Brooks challenged Brooks Brothers’ alleged effort to block it from registering its own trademark in the United States and other countries. It also challenged Brooks Brothers’ Dec. 30, 2019, trademark application to use “Brooks,” without “Brothers,” on eight categories of items, including clothing and sporting goods, as well as on retail stores. Brooks is seeking damages, including for

breach of contract, and to halt any infringements by Brooks Brothers. “We will aggressively protect our intellectual property and defend the investment that’s created our valuable brand,” Brooks CEO Jim Weber said in a statement. Privately held Brooks Brothers was founded in 1818 and says it is the oldest U.S. clothing retailer. The New York-based company says it has outfitted 40 of the 45 U.S. presidents, including John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln.

Nuun Launches a Sustainable Event Guide For Endurance Event Organizers Nuun and the Council for Responsible Sport last week announced their partnership on “A Practical Guide to Hosting Radically Responsible Events,” a 10-Point Guide to support organizers in planning more sustainable sports events. The launch of the Guide coincided with the race industry’s largest gathering of running sector influencers and professionals in the world, Running USA’s annual conference in Las Vegas, NV. The Guide is designed for race organizers to support their efforts to host more sustainable events and provide guidance for decision-making that is defensible socially, environmentally and financially. A responsible event is one that undertakes a holistic assessment of the ways the event affects people, generates economic activity, and uses raw materials and energy that affect local ecosystems and Earth’s broader ecology. The Guide provides an opportunity to help make the path to sustainability more accessible for events of all sizes. “This Guide prompts organizers to consider — What’s left when the event is over? What resources have been used? What has been created or otherwise has

changed, where, and for whom?” says Shelley Villalobos, managing director of the Council for Responsible Sport. “Leading responsible events will answer those questions with ever-greater precision in ways their communities embrace. This Guide supports that journey regardless of the size, scale and budget of the event or its host entity.” “At Nuun we prioritize Clean Product, Clean Sport and Clean Planet as pillars of our brand,” adds Nuun president Kevin Rutherford. “We always seek to perform better across the board, and our team is hard at work to double down on our sustainability initiatives. The path is challenging, and we are still learning, but we must push forward no matter the difficulties. Partnering with the Council for Responsible Sport on this Guide is one way that we can share our learnings with the industry.” The Guide can be downloaded at https://www.councilforresponsiblesport. org/runrad

deal the company’s owners previously had turned down the deal. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the bankruptcy trustee has filed papers that say the sale to Spartan Race is market-tested and ready to go despite the refusal of owners William Dean and Guy Livingstone to follow through with it. He is asking a judge to sign off on a sale of the Tough Mudder assets to its rival, warning that the business, which shut down in December due to lack of cash, could be beyond saving if a deal takes too long. “As a result of the debtors ceasing operations, the events scheduled for the first three quarters of 2020 are no longer salvageable and will need to be canceled,” Mr. Abbott wrote in a filing earlier this month with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, DE. He wants to close the Spartan Race sale by the end of February. The trustee’s court filing documents the sudden shutdown of the company late last year. According to Abbott, the sale to Spartan Race was well on its way to closing when the company’s owners declined to sign off, because their demands for multimillion-dollar payments for their equity positions weren’t met.

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Spartan Race Looking To Revive Bankrupt Tough Mudder A sale to rival Spartan Race, Inc. may save some Tough Mudder events as a bankruptcy trustee looks to revive the company’s business, even though a

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running shorts Nike’s Alphafly Next% Coming To Stores This Summer IT MAY NOT BE THE EXACT shoe that Eliud Kipchoge wore when he ran a marathon in 1:59:40 last year, but a version of the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% will be available to the general public by Summer 2020. The announcement comes on the heels of a January 31 decision by World Athletics – the governing body of competitive running — that declared the new shoe designs legal for competition, ending weeks of speculation that they might be banned sometime soon. Reports have speculated that the shoes will likely have a price tag of $250, similar to other shoes in the Vaporfly series. The controversial shoe features a combination of a soft, resilient foam and a carbon-fiber plate that allows runners to be much more efficient and utilize less energy as their feet

Implus Names Polk Interim CEO Implus has appointed Michael Polk as interim CEO. At the same time, Seth Richards, Implus CEO, and Todd Vore, president, are transitioning their leadership roles and will be leaving the company to pursue other opportunities. Prior to joining Implus, Polk was president and CEO of Newell Brands, a position he held from 2011 to 2019. He was also previously at Unilever and Kraft and started his career at Procter & Gamble. He is also a member of the boards of Colgate-Palmolive and Logitech International. “Implus has experienced tremendous growth for over two decades under the leadership of Seth and Todd,” says Dave Bordeau, chairman of the Implus Board of Directors. “We celebrate their successes, thank them for their leadership and look forward to continuing 18

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roll through the gait cycle from heel-strike to toe-off. The World Athletics ruling came with a caveat, though. The group wants to restrict technological developments in footwear design to level the playing field and the regulations allow the thickness of a shoe’s sole with a limit of 40 millimeters. That

our relationship with them as significant shareholders and friends of the business. “I am excited to join both Implus and Berkshire Partners,” adds Polk. “Implus has built a terrific portfolio of leading brands in on-trend categories. I look forward to working with the Implus team to continue to develop these great brands, accelerate growth, and further strengthen the company.” Hoka Tests Apparel Line Hoka One One will reportedly launch a U.S. apparel test this spring as an extension to its footwear business. Hoka recently said that its Clifton and Bondi styles continue to gain market share in the U.S. run specialty channel following the introduction of an updated Speedgoat 4. The brand “has a lot of runway still

is greater than the current Vaporly shoes, which have a 36-millimeter sole. It would also limit shoes to a single rigid embedded plate. The portion of the ruling that will most interest run retailers is a requirement that beginning on April 30 any shoe used in elite competition must have been available for purchase on the retail market for four months. That means competing prototypes from other footwear brands will not be allowed in elite races if they aren’t available in stores by the end of April. The new rules mean the prototype Eliud Kipchoge wore in Vienna are now noncompliant, but the latest Alphafly shoes – which are believed to have a sole that is 39.5mm thick – are passable.

within just footwear,” said Dave Powers, president and CEO of Hoka parent Deckers, adding in a recent call with analysts that apparel and gear are a significant part of its strategy for the next three to five years. Astral Expands Sales Team in the Great Lakes Astral, the maker of PFDs and footwear, has added Daniel Miller and Joe Giordano to its sales team. Miller and Giordano will represent the brand across the Great Lakes region, covering Ohio, Indiana, Lower Michigan and Kentucky. Based out of Lexington, KY, Miller worked for retailer J&H Lanmark for seven years before becoming a sales rep, ultimately becoming principal rep and owner of Specialty Sport Reps. Giordano, based out of Dexter, MI, worked for Osprey before joining Specialty Sport Reps.

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running shorts Salomon Earns Innovation Award For Its Recyclable Concept Shoe SA L OMON SP ORT S R E C E N T LY received an Innovation Award at the second annual Outdoor Retailer Innovation Awards for its recyclable running shoe. Salomon’s Recyclable Concept Shoe, which was launched in November 2019, extends the lifecycle of the materials used. The concept shoe is made completely of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), a petroleum-based material that has the ability to be reused and remolded due to its thermoplastic properties. TPU is the material used to construct Salomon’s alpine ski boot shells, which means that the 100 percent TPU shoe can be broken down, added to other recycled plastics and completely reused in ski boot construction. Salomon’s footwear team is working to implement elements of this concept in running footwer. The Outdoor Retailer Innovation Awards recognize achievements in outdoor products, materials and services. The key ingredient in the recipe of the recyclable Salomon concept shoe is thermoplastic polyurethane. Instead of using multiple materials to create the shoe, as is the case in the construction of traditional athletic performance footwear, the concept

shoe uses only TPU to construct both the upper and the bottom units. This innovative construction enables the grinding and the re-use of the raw material without downgrading the performance. When the running shoe reaches the end of its life, Salomon is able to clean it and grind it into tiny pieces. These tiny pieces of TPU

are then mixed with a bit of original (new) TPU and inserted into an injection machine to become a ski boot shell. The final Salomon ski boot shell has all the same performance characteristics as traditionally produced ski boots in the current Salomon range, which already use recycled plastics.

Brooks Appoints PR Agency Brooks has appointed public relations firm PrettyGreen to support several launches, handle Brooks’ press office and activate a campaign based on the brand’s Run Happy philosophy in 2020. The agency will also operate a reactive newsroom alongside the Brooks influencer program, with a 12-month calendar of activity. Brooks previously worked with sports PR specialist Sponge Marketing. PrettyGreen said it will run a series of press events throughout this year to “demonstrate why Brooks is the go-to brand for runners’ needs.”

ASICS Reports Quarterly Growth Run specialty and e-commerce growth – along with the launch of its Glideride model – contributed to a strong fourth quarter 2019 showing for ASICS North America (ANA), which includes the United States, Canada and Mexico. This marks the fourth consecutive quarter of sales growth versus the previous year for ASICS North America for the first time in 17 quarters. In the U.S., the brand saw quarterly growth of 5.9 percent in the performance running category led by strong sales of the Gel-Kayano 26, GT-2000 series and Gel-Nimbus 22 footwear

models. The U.S. also saw a quarterly increase of 33.2 percent in performance sports footwear driven by a popularity in ASICS’ tennis products and introduction of golf footwear. ASICS Canada experienced growth of 72.5 percent in the e-commerce channel over last quarter from the previous year. In addition to the financial results, ASICS athletes continued to perform well. Distance runner Emma Bates finished the Chicago Marathon in fourth place as the top American woman with a time of 2:25:27, while Vasek Pospisil led Team Canada to the Davis Cup Finals this November.

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