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Fleet Feet Sports and Karhu Announce Exclusive Retail Partnership

Franchisor of 170 locally owned and operated stores will be sole U.S. retailer for Finnish running brand - Carrboro, N.C. – Fleet Feet Sports, the national retail leader in building thriving local running communities, announces an exclusive retail partnership with Finnish running brand Karhu.

The partnership, set to launch with the updated Fast 6 (MSRP $140) and Fluid 5 (MSRP $120) in February, makes Fleet Feet Sports the sole retailer of Karhu running shoes at its 170 stores as well as online at FleetFeetSports.com, and marks the first time Fleet Feet Sports has had an exclusive for all running shoe models of a brand.

“This channel of distribution is called run specialty for a reason,” says Jeff Phillips, CEO and president of Fleet Feet Sports. “For four decades, it has represented a special service and experience for runners, and the products we carry need to reflect something unique and special as well.

In Karhu, we’re able to re-emphasize the specialty of product found exclusively in our stores, which I believe is a really important aspect of our business.  We must continue to leverage special products at a time when both product and price competition is prolific, and the majority of products sold in our stores can be found on Amazon or in the Amazon marketplace.”

“Like Fleet Feet Sports, we have a rich and rooted history and passion in running,” says Huub Valkenburg, CEO of Karhu. “I believe strongly in our products, and I know that belief isn’t the only thing that creates success—it’s finding the right partner to launch with into a market.  In Fleet Feet Sports, we have that partner, brand champion, and expert who will help customers identify Karhu as a solution for them and advance the brand in a meaningful way.”

Dating back to its founding in 1916 with the introduction of running spikes, Karhu (which means “bear” in Finnish) has found success using its fulcrum technology, which ensures a smooth transition from heel to toe and keeps the shoe neutral throughout the runner's gait cycle.

In July 2017, Karhu and Fleet Feet Sports will introduce the first running shoe featuring Karhu’s Ortix™ Fit, technology that provides an ergonomically shaped last.

“Both Karhu and Fleet Feet Sports share a deep understanding in providing the right fit for every runner, “ says Valkenburg. “We’re excited about Ortix Fit, the next level of comfort and fit it will provide, and plan on expanding the platform in future models.”

The announcement with Karhu comes two days after the end of the first major shopping weekend of the holiday season, which saw Fleet Feet Sports post record sales over Black Friday weekend. Overall, Fleet Feet Sports saw comp store gains of nine percent over the same weekend in 2015.

“While the leadership of our local owners and the experience our stores create for customers is absolutely paramount and foundational to our success, we know that as a brand, we have to continue to find unique products and compelling initiatives that entice customers to shop with us,” says Phillips. “We’re excited to have a partner in Karhu that is willing to go down this road of exclusivity with us.”

Fleet Feet Sports and Karhu will exhibit together at The Running Event in booth #3016, with Karhu showcasing its 2017 line featuring the Ortix Fit technology. For more information on this partnership, Fleet Feet Sports, or Karhu, please contact Allison Showalter at 919-277-1158