LONDON: British sportswear retailing chains will have to smarten up their act if they are to sell premium ranges from Nike and Adidas.

The manufacturing giants are concerned that some stores are failing in the presentation game and that brand reputations are suffering as a consequence.

One of the retailers at risk of being denied upscale apparel is discount chain Sports World whose 'pile it high, sell it cheap' approach has offended German-headquartered Adidas.

Says UK managing director Gil Steyaert: "We're asking retailers to step up in terms of brand presentation and product presentation . . . They [Sports World] will look at [whether] they want to evolve their brand presentation to serve a higher part of the market."

Sports World's rivals, JJB Sports and JD Sports, who consider themselves a cut above the discount riff-raff, are hoping evolution is not on the agenda and that they will benefit from restrictions on access to the upmarket lines.

JJB ceo Tom Knight comments sniffily: "Both Adidas and Nike have new distribution policies that have been in place for some weeks but will come into effect from 2007. There are certain presentational [requirements] in their policies...that would put them [Sports World] in a different category to us."

Sports World International's owner Mike Ashley, whose philosophy is loved and loathed in equal measure by the British retail community, has so far remained zip-lipped but is unlikely to be perturbed.

Data sourced from Financial Times online; additional content by WARC staff