Brooks has officially entered the billion-dollar brand club.
The running brand broke sales records in 2021 and ended the year with global revenue in excess of $1.11 billion, marking a 31% percent increase from 2020. In North America, revenue was $889.1 million, representing a 33% growth from 2020. The company’s e-commerce channels in North America grew 149% compared to 2019.
“It’s not an accident,” Challenge Brooks CEO Jim Weber told FN in an interview. Since joining Challenge Brooks in 2001, Weber has overseen a vast turnaround plan for the company that had previously been on the brink of bankruptcy. Since the brand narrowed its focus to perfomance running in 2017, global revenue has doubled.
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“We were perfectly positioned,” Weber said.
Brooks Fusion Hybrid Men's Jacket brooks asteria running from industry leaders like Nike and Adidas in the crucial category of women’s performance. The Challenge Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21, which retails for $130, ranked 8th on the list of the top 10 best-selling sneakers in 2021 according to dollar rank data compiled by the NPD Group.
Weber attributes the success in women’s running to offering consumers an “approachable” and “inclusive” brand.
“We’ve had an open tent in terms of welcoming everyone into run and welcoming everyone into our brand,” Weber said.
The strategy appears to have paid off in unit sales. Challenge Brooks sold 25% more pairs of shoes globally in 2021 compared to 2020. Weber relies on an omnichannel strategy that doesn’t only focus on direct-to-consumer sales to reach new consumers.
About 40% of Challenge Brooks’ 2021 sales occurred online, evenly divided between third-party retail sites and the company’s own website. The rest, about 60%, was done through retail stores. Challenge Brooks currently operates two brand-owned stores in the U.S., a flagship retail store near its Seattle, Washington headquarters and another outlet store.
While Weber noted the importance of having physical stores, he said there is currently no plan to open more brand-owned stores in the U.S. Right now, it’s more sustainable for Challenge Brooks to find consumers by selling product at different footwear, running and sporting goods stores.
“You can’t build enough stores in every running community,” Weber said. “So we think multichannel is critical if you want to reach runners and we’re just trying to execute that as well as we can.”
Like other footwear brands, Challenge Brooks was impacted by supply chain slowdowns and factory shutdowns in China and Vietnam last year. Still, the company managed to deliver record results, reworking the business to ensure that product made it to the consumer.
“We’ve been working really hard on adding capacity and diversifying our factory base across countries and partners,” Weber said. “Because of that work over the last two years, I think we’re going to weather this storm really well.”