Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Dick's stores hiring trainers

By Randy Tucker
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Dick's Sporting Goods is considered one of the most profitable full-line sporting goods retailers in the country, in part because it keeps inventory lean so less merchandise has to be sold at a loss.

Soon, the Pittsburgh-based chain with six stores in Greater Cincinnati will apply the same "lean-operating" philosophy to its marketing strategy by hiring personal trainers to assist customers at stores throughout the country.

"The fitness trainers' emphasis will be on making sure that our customers know how to best use our equipment to meet the fitness needs of their particular sport," said Jay Mininger, vice president of marketing for Dick's. "We get people in our stores who are golfers who want to be in shape to play golf. Our fitness trainers will show them how to use our equipment to accomplish their goals."

Mininger said each of Dick's 160-plus stores soon would have at least one full-time personal trainer on staff. Although he could not be specific about the timing of the new program, he said it likely would be implemented swiftly because it's an important part of the company's growth strategy.

In the long run, the company hopes the trainers will help their retail outlets cycle through inventory quickly, maintaining a high rate of inventory turnover and keeping markdowns to a minimum.

Dick's recently announced it would expand its distribution center in Westmoreland County, Pa., to help meet the inventory churn in all its departments, including sporting goods, apparel, footwear and hunting and camping.

Dick's, which also sells online, became a publicly traded company in the fall of 2002.

The chain's stores are most heavily concentrated in the Midwest and Northeast, including 22 stores in Pennsylvania, 21 in Ohio and 20 in New York.


E-mail rtucker@enquirer.com

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