American sporting goods giant Nike has opened its first dedicated retail store in Cambodia in what observers have described as another sign the Kingdom’s strong economy and rising incomes had not gone unnoticed by international retail giants.
The opening of the outlet store in central Phnom Penh marks the first time that Nike goods such as sport shoes and apparel – including items produced at local factories – can be purchased from a dedicated brand outlet.
According to Julie Chung, Charge d’ Affaires at the US Embassy in Phnom Penh, Nike’s retail launch underscores the Kingdom’s economic development and its ability to attract major name-brand American products and investment.
“This is a testament to the economic transformation that is taking place here . . . a transformation we hope the United States and American companies can continue to help support,” she said at the store opening on Saturday.
Ronald Marvin, executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce, said the Nike store’s arrival was a positive sign that American businesses have confidence in the Cambodian market.
However, on a retail level, some analysts said the choice of opening a flagship store on Monivong Boulevard, rather than in an upscale mall or neighbourhood such as Aeon Mall or Boeung Keng Kang 1, could signify that Nike was still testing the market before going all in.
“The fact that they are not opening a flagship store in a more prime location could be because they just want to establish a presence in Cambodia for the meantime,” said Sofia Perez of property consultancy advisory Knight Frank Cambodia.
She said that while Nike’s brand-name appeal would certainly help business, it should not be relied on as the sole marketing tool.
“The choice in location and the store size will definitely affect brand image, which is important for consumers because for a higher price, they would also expect a more exclusive shopping experience among other added benefits,” Perez said.
She added, however, that if Nike can develop an effective marketing strategy with added consumer benefits, “they could definitely increase the pressure on their competitors”.