June 13, 2024 | By Anurima Das

New Balance is one of fastest growing sports brands in the MENA region after setting up operations back in 2019. The foundations are in place for future growth in the coming months and years across multiple channels and mediums as the ultimate challenger brand.

Back in 1906, New Balance was founded by William J. Riley, inspired by the perfect balance found in a chicken’s foot. Mr. Riley patented his innovation and established a company committed to crafting personalized arch supports which has now become a brand of choice for athletes, sneakerheads, fitness enthusiasts, fashionistas and anyone seeking ultimate comfort. What started as a modest inception has gone on to change the running experience worldwide.

Today, over a century later, New Balance has more than 4,000 stores located across North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia, with a growing footprint in the MENA region with 21 stores and counting. Images Retail ME had a chance to speak with Dave Wheeler, the COO of New Balance to gain an insight into the brand’s expansive growth, the ever-iconic ‘New Balance approach’ and the growth plans across the region.

To start, could you share your insights on New Balance’s expansion into the MENA market and its performance here?

We’ve witnessed significant growth in the MENA market over the past few years, especially in the retail sector. Premium placement of our products in malls like Dubai Hills and the Dubai Mall has been particularly successful. Our flagship running models, such as the 1080 and the Fuel Cell Elite, have garnered significant interest and praise. We currently operate 21 stores with plans for further expansion over the coming years. Our network of partner stores also continues to expand across Kuwait, Qatar, Egypt, and Morocco, reflecting our commitment to engaging with diverse communities across the region.

Speaking of performance, New Balance has experienced tremendous growth on a global level, doubling in size in the last five years. Last year was another growth year with double-digit growth and meaningful market share gains across every global market which we owe to our OneNB culture of innovation and teamwork.

Witnessing this success, a wave is also coming soon with 90 new stores opening this year, along with the remodeling of 50 existing stores incorporating a new design model centred on community.

Our performance has also been strong outside of footwear, considering our apparel business crossed $1 billion for the first time in 2023. While New Balance is a running brand at the core, a big focus for us is the exciting new products coming to market across both our core footwear range as well as innovations in apparel. We’re focused on outstanding ‘head to toe’ solutions for our consumers.

That sounds promising. Could you elaborate on New Balance’s approach to competition in the global market, especially amidst the rise of new brands?

Our strategy revolves around focus, innovation, and quality. We prioritize key models and avoid oversaturation in the market. Moreover, we emphasize the importance of brand ambassadors who align with our values rather than opting only for traditional paid endorsements. This approach, combined with our commitment to innovation, ensures that New Balance stands out amidst competition.

Speaking of innovation, how does New Balance balance innovation with affordability, especially considering economic challenges like inflation and COVID-19?

Innovation is at the core of everything we do, but affordability is equally important as we craft our premium products. We continually focus on cost reduction and sustainable practices to maintain competitive pricing while upholding quality. Our recent focus on sustainability and energy-efficient manufacturing reflects our commitment to both innovation and affordability.

That’s commendable. Shifting gears, could you tell us about New Balance’s evolving customer base and its impact on product development and marketing strategies?

Our customer base has evolved significantly, with a growing interest from younger demographics. We’ve seen a surge in interest in our retro models among the youth, alongside our continued appeal to our loyal consumer base. This demographic shift informs our product development and marketing strategies, ensuring that we cater to diverse consumer preferences.  In parallel, our more recent and innovative apparel and footwear has also excited our consumers and continues to evolve our customer base.

Finally, how does New Balance navigate the evolving retail landscape, particularly the shift towards online shopping?

We’ve adapted to the changing retail landscape by investing in our digital transformation, enhancing our online consumer experience, and expanding our retail footprint. While online sales have surged during COVID-19, our retail stores remain integral to our omnichannel approach. We prioritize consumer convenience and engagement across all platforms to ensure a seamless shopping experience.

It’s clear that New Balance’s commitment to innovation, quality, and sustainability drives its success in the global market and MENA.


David Wheeler puts forward 3 thoughts for the growing retail market that he mentions is bound to be a gamechanger, if adopted well.

  • Sustainability Focus: Engrained within New Balance culture, David emphasizes the critical importance of sustainability in meeting consumer expectations, reflecting a growing concern among consumers about environmental impact.
  • Building Consumer Trust: Creating trust with consumers is paramount for New Balance. This involves delivering quality products that meet performance standards and aesthetic preferences, ensuring customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Innovation as a Key Driver: Continuous innovation is essential for New Balance to surprise and delight consumers, whether by meeting their known preferences or introducing them to new products they hadn’t considered before.

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