Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc., the largest U.S. sporting-goods chain, is staking its future on winning more female customers.
On Tuesday, the company unveiled a wide-ranging set of efforts to support women’s sports. They include a $5 million grant to the U.S. Soccer Foundation, a sponsorship of USA Softball as it rejoins the Olympics, and retail changes at stores around the country to give expand its selection of women’s and girls’ products.
The company is also planning a national ad campaign supporting women’s sports. Altogether, the effort is a low-eight-figure investment for the company, which is projected to top $8.7 billion in sales this fiscal year.
“Today is a proud moment for our company,” Dick’s President Lauren Hobart said in a statement.
The search for more female customers may be helped by another high-profile push at Dick’s: its move away from guns. Over the past few years, the company has pulled firearms from its stores and become a corporate leader in advocating for gun reform -- a position supported by women more often than men.
Dick’s also aims to capitalize on the surging popularity of women’s pro sports. The public conversation has been driven by the U.S. women’s soccer team, which won the World Cup last year and is still locked in a legal battle over equal pay.
Dick’s (DKS) is becoming an official partner of USA Softball, which is returning to the Olympics this year after the sport was dropped following the 2008 games. Dick’s will also be the official merchandise vendor of the team’s pre-Tokyo tour, which includes 35 different cities from February through June.
Excitement about women’s sports is also trickling down to youth levels. The three-year soccer grant will go to a U.S. Soccer Foundation program that aims to engage 100,000 girls in underserved communities by 2023.
The in-store changes will feature an expansion of products for women and girls. That will happen in concert with Dick’s retail partners, such as Nike Inc., and through its own private-label brands, like the female-oriented Calia.
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