Retail Merchandiser - March/April 2017 - 89

Hibbett Sports
National Reach
Rufus Hibbett founded the company in 1945 as Dixie Supply Co., a marine equipment and small aircraft retailer. It
wasn't until four years later that Dixie Supply began selling
athletic equipment and team sports merchandise.
Hibbett's sons joined the business in 1952 and the company's name changed to Hibbett & Sons to reflect the family ownership. The stores remained focused on team merchandise until the 1980s when the renamed Hibbett Sports
began expanding to strip centers and malls and transformed
into a more traditional sporting goods retailer.
Today, Hibbett Sports operates about 1,080 stores in 35
states. Most locations are found within the Sun Belt, but the
company is working to enter new markets. In 2016, Hibbett
opened its first two stores in California and plans to open
another four to six stores there by the middle of this year.
At that point, the company will evaluate its progress and
determine the best path to fully enter the California market.
To stay relevant to its customers, Hibbett Sports continually reinvests in its stores. The company is in the midst of
a large remodeling project that saw 50 stores overhauled in
2015 and 60 in 2016. The remodeling was an opportunity to
freshen the look of the locations with upgraded carpeting
and light fixtures and also to change floor plans to create
better customer flow around products.
Each store is designed to fit the local market, and depending on customer demographics and nearby tenants, stores
can lean toward a fashion or equipment focus. "We can really align our stores into those specific store types," Gray says.

strategy and the company now primarily works with mall
owners to fill vacant space in existing shopping centers.

Opening Up Online
Hibbett Sports has always sought new methods to better
interact with customers and drive loyalty. The company a
few years ago introduced its MVP Rewards system to allow
consumers to earn points and receive gift certificates and
offers based on purchases. Hibbett Sports has used the program to track customer trends and Gray says the data will
help as it makes the next leap to online sales.
Like in the rest of the retail industry, buyers of sporting
goods and athletic wear are changing their shopping habits. Hibbett Sports only recently introduced an ecommerce
platform and continues to add features and conveniences
customers want. A new service option which allows the customer to come in the store request an item and pick-up in
store is now available at 200 locations and Hibbett Sports
expects to roll it out companywide early this year. Also an
online order option with at-home delivery will be available
by year end. "It's really trying to figure out ways to utilize
that to increase sales but also drive customers into our store
using that [online]," Gray says. O

Expanding Strategy
Hibbett Sports opened 65 stores in 2016 and expects to add
another 50 locations each year going forward. Ultimately,
the company wants to reach 1,500 stores and then set its
eyes on the next level of opportunities.
Although the company has been long associated with
small communities, it is opening stores in larger markets
such as Dallas, Nashville, Tenn., and Jacksonville, Fla. Hibbett Sports also will expand to more states.
Before opening in a new market or adding another location, Hibbett Sports conducts a thorough analysis of the
area to determine the best ways to position the store to succeed. An in-house real estate team of seven people is tasked
with identifying potential sites and working with mall owners to negotiate a lease.
The kinds of locations Hibbett Sports is growing into
have changed somewhat since the Great Recession. The majority of the company's openings used to coincide with the
construction of new shopping centers, but as the economy
recovers developers are largely still hesitant to build malls.
The lack of new building forced Hibbett Sports to adjust its
March/April 2017

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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Retail Merchandiser - March/April 2017

Contents
Retail Merchandiser - March/April 2017 - Cover1
Retail Merchandiser - March/April 2017 - Cover2
Retail Merchandiser - March/April 2017 - 1
Retail Merchandiser - March/April 2017 - Contents
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