SOURCE: NexCen Brands, Inc.

November 09, 2007 13:30 ET

The Athlete's Foot Opens Next Generation Performance Store in Tuscaloosa, AL

Updated Store Design and Merchandising System Are Hallmarks of First "New" TAF in the World

ATLANTA, GA--(Marketwire - November 9, 2007) - The Athlete's Foot (TAF), worldwide leader in athletic footwear franchising, announced today that the first next generation TAF performance store will open in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, next week. The Tuscaloosa franchise location is the first in the world to feature the new store design, logo and merchandising system that was announced by TAF's parent company, NexCen Brands, Inc. ("NexCen") (NASDAQ: NEXC), in June of this year.

"We're changing the face of footwear retailing," commented NexCen's President and CEO, Robert W. D'Loren. "The industry is increasingly driven by overall lifestyle of our consumers, not just the technical aspects of footwear. Our new TAF brand and store embodies this shift in the retail climate by creating an apparel and footwear performance shop that appeals to everyday athletes."

TAF of the Future

The hallmarks of the new TAF are: a sleek, modern corporate identity that replaces the 36-year old Athlete's Foot logo; a store design inspired by the athletic lifestyle, featuring awnings and banners meant to evoke a "race day" atmosphere; and an innovative merchandising system that allows customization of store offerings to suit individual communities and athletes.

The merchandising system, which consists of wall and floor unit fixtures that are "wrapped" in a graphics package expressing the featured style: performance athletics (pure athletic performance), classic athletics (retro, collegiate varsity style), street athletics (urban vibe) or fusion athletics (edgy model inspired by extreme and board sports). The new system empowers franchise owners to be flexible, current and responsive to the demands of their core customers in each of their store locations by providing modular merchandise units in a variety of styles.

The next generation TAF stores are on the forefront of innovation, and Tuscaloosa will also be the first store to feature TAF TV, in-store video programming promoting the TAF brand that will run on flat screens seamlessly incorporated into the retail display environment. The TAF TV network will deliver real-time health and fitness tips, vendor promotions, advertisements and training webinars. By creating and distributing programming from a central unit, TAF will be able to stream unique content to all TAF televisions at the same time.

NexCen began the TAF re-branding effort after acquiring The Athlete's Foot brand in November of 2006. The new store concept was designed and presented to franchise owners at the company's Global Franchise Convention in Las Vegas just seven months after the acquisition. While Tuscaloosa marks the first implementation of the new store design, it is expected that the changes will be in effect system-wide within the next five years.

Tuscaloosa Franchisee Brings New TAF to Community

Franchisee Tommy Wagner from Tuscaloosa, the first franchisee to implement the new store concept in his franchise, was in attendance at the Global Franchise Convention in June and liked what he saw.

"I knew when this new concept came about, I wanted to be part of it," Mr. Wagner commented regarding the prototype TAF store. "I was planning to open my fifth TAF location in the early fall of this year and, when I saw the new design and merchandising concept for the re-branded TAF, I felt it would be well worth a few weeks' wait to implement the new fixtures."

Wagner has been a TAF franchise owner for fifteen years and has twice been awarded the company's President's award for outstanding performance. He is a third-generation shoe retailer, whose grandfather was a salesman for a shoe manufacturer and whose father opened a family-run shoe store in Tuscaloosa in 1953. Wagner began working at the shoe store in high school, took over and grew the family business. When the popularity of performance athletic footwear began to skyrocket in the 1980s, Wagner decided to invest in The Athlete's Foot, opening his first store in 1992.

Based on Wagner's knowledge of his local community, the new Tuscaloosa TAF will feature performance and classic athletics styles -- creating a look, feel and product balance that he believes will resonate best with his core clientele. Located just miles from the University of Alabama in the Midtown Village at 1800 McFarland Boulevard, the store will offer locally relevant products, such as Crimson Tide attire, and will carry the new line of TAF branded apparel, taftec®, scheduled to launch in early spring.

In celebration of its grand opening, The Athlete's Foot retail stores in the five Alabama locations (Midtown Village, McFraland Mall, Shoppes at Northport, in Jasper and in Demopolis) will offer 20% off all shoes from November 15 through November 18.

Grand Opening Event To Benefit Charity

The store celebrates its grand opening from November 14 through November 18 with a series of private and public events, including a ribbon cutting with Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox and Northport Mayor Harvey Fretwell on Wednesday, November 14, a live radio broadcast from the store on Thursday, November 15 and the TAF Turkey Trot at Jaycee Park on Saturday, November 17.

Organized by The Athlete's Foot in partnership with the Tuscaloosa Track Club, the 2007 TAF Turkey Trot is a 5K race and 1/2 mile fun run/walk/roll open to runners and specially-abled participants of all ages. Registration is at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday and all participants will receive a TAF Turkey Trot t-shirt and winners will be presented prizes from TAF. This event features activities for all family members including a live radio broadcast, music, food & beverage, face painters, jugglers and balloon artists.

Proceeds from event registration will benefit Achilles Kids, a division of the non-profit Achilles Track Club organization, which empowers young people with all types of disabilities to participate in mainstream athletics in order to promote personal achievement, enhanced self esteem and the lowering of barriers between people. Through the Achilles Kids school program over 2,500 children with disabilities have run/walked/rolled farther than they ever thought possible. These children have not only improved their health and fitness levels, but have also gained the self-confidence and self-esteem that comes with setting goals and achieving them.

"My stores have been long-time supporters of the Tuscaloosa Track Club, which encourages people of all ages to discover and enjoy the sport of running," said Tommy Wagner about the weekend event. "I'm pleased to be the title sponsor of their Turkey Trot event and to dedicate proceeds to a worthy charitable partner."

Interested participants should contact Race Director Laurie Arizumi at 205-348-0552 for more information.

About The Athlete's Foot (www.theathletesfoot.com)

The Athlete's Foot® (TAF) is the world's first franchisor of athletic footwear stores and is recognized today as the world leader in athletic footwear franchising. Robert and David Lando opened the first The Athlete's Foot store in 1971 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was the first athletic footwear specialty store of its kind in the United States. Soon thereafter, TAF began franchising domestically, with the first franchise store opening in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The first international franchise store opened in 1978 in Adelaide, Australia, the beginning of TAF's expansion into over 45 countries. In June, 2007, NexCen Brands launched a global re-branding effort for TAF. Plans for reinvigorating the 36 year-old brand include an innovative new modular merchandising system, new in-store design, a modernized company logo, and a line of TAF branded apparel.

About NexCen Brands, Inc. (NASDAQ: NEXC) (www.nexcenbrands.com)

NexCen Brands, Inc. is the premier 21st century vertically integrated global brand acquisition and management company focused on assembling a diversified portfolio of intellectual property-centric companies operating in the consumer branded products and franchise industries. The Company owns, licenses, franchises and markets a growing portfolio of consumer and franchise brands including The Athlete's Foot®, Bill Blass®, MaggieMoo's®, Marble Slab Creamery®, Pretzel Time®, and Pretzelmaker® and Waverly®. The Company licenses and franchises its brands to a network of leading retailers, manufacturers and franchisees that includes every major segment of retail distribution from the luxury market to the mass market in the U.S. and in over 50 countries around the world, and consists of more than 1,500 franchised stores. NexCen, through its information technology, franchisee support systems and advertising, marketing and public relations team, markets its brands to continually drive greater consumer awareness and brand equity for each of its brands. NexCen touches nearly every aspect of a consumer's lifestyle from the food they eat to the furnishings in their homes and the clothes and footwear they purchase.