Japanese sports brand ASICS has signed a franchise contract with UAE-based fashion and lifestyle retailer Apparel Group to open stores in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

The partners will open 20 ASICS stores in the next five years in Qatar, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Bahrain.

ASICS opened the first of these stores in Doha Festival City Mall, Qatar, on 5 December this month.

The ASICS concept store in Qatar covers a 165m² area and offers running, tennis, padel, volleyball and children’s collections.

The store will also sell the new GEL-KAYANO running shoe and NOVABLAST 3, the retailer’s third-generation cushioning running shoe.

ASICS and Apparel Group plan to open more stores in Saudi Arabia and the UAE following the opening of ASCIS’s first Qatar store.

The stores will feature ASICS’ specialised gait analysis and foot mapping technology, Run Analyser, which customers can use to find running shoes suitable for their running styles.

ASICS Arabia marketing manager Ana Seixas said: “The opening of ASICS stores in the region allows us to connect further with local, grass root sports communities and share our passion for movement and Sound Mind Sound Body philosophy.

“We are witnessing unparallel growth in running, tennis and padel sports in the Middle East, and we want to ensure we help those sports enthusiasts to find the right footwear and apparel to increase their performance.”

Apparel Group CEO Neeraj Teckchandani said: “As Apparel Group continues its journey to strengthen its position as one of the leading retail conglomerates in the region and globally, we are proud to announce our strategic partnership with ASICS.

“With this partnership, Apparel Group remains committed to identifying innovative approaches to strategic alliances that enable us to stay at the forefront of consumer trends and grow our global footprint.”