Oakley Inc today announced the expansion of its relationship with sporting goods retailer Champs Sports, a division of Venator Group (NYSE: news).

Within the next 30 days, Champs Sports plans to expand by 35 per cent the number of its US stores carrying Oakley products - to 500 from 370 currently - and support the creation of 30 in-store Oakley concept areas featuring a wide variety of Oakley sunglasses, footwear, apparel and watches.

In response to recent developments in Oakley's relationship with Luxottica, the parent company of Sunglass Hut, Oakley has initiated a number of new marketing and distribution strategies as outlined in its August 2, 2001 press release. "This is the first of a series of strategic plans designed to overcome the fact that Sunglass Hut chose not to carry the latest and greatest Oakley products. Consumers want Oakley, and Champs is embracing the opportunity to expand its distribution of our product line and make a wider variety of Oakley items available to its customer base," commented chief executive officer Jim Jannard. "Sunglass Hut no longer represents the best retail partner for the Oakley brand now that our product line includes footwear, apparel and watches," Jannard concluded.

Champs Sports will also be the first national retailing partner to establish in-store concept areas utilising additional branded fixturing to showcase the Oakley product line.

The rollout of Oakley concept areas through Champs Sports is to begin with five in the fourth quarter 2001, increasing to 30 for the spring of 2002.

Including the increased stores related to the rollout of the concept areas, Champs Sports will be expanding the number of footwear doors in fall 2001 from the current 20 to a minimum of 100 doors nationwide. Simultaneously, apparel will be introduced into at least 50 locations nationwide.