by Stephen Garner

Kohl’s is getting serious about fitness and its activewear business.

The retailer has just inked a new deal with Planet Fitness to initially open up to 10 gyms adjacent to select Kohl’s stores across the country in 2019 with the opportunity for additional locations in the future.  Planet Fitness will leverage approximately 20,000 – 25,000 square feet adjacent to each of the select Kohl’s stores in various markets throughout the country.

At a time when traditional retailers are innovating to woo shoppers who are increasingly content to shop online, Kohl’s has seized on a strategy to shrink the size of its stores, then invite partners to set up shop in the freed-up space.

“We continue to see our ‘right-sizing strategy’ as an important initiative to not only leverage our real estate assets but also drive traffic to our stores through key partnerships,” said Michelle Gass, Kohl’s chief executive officer on the company’s fourth quarter earnings call held this morning. “Today, I am excited to announce our new partnership with Planet Fitness, which will initially include up to 10 Planet Fitness locations. We see the right-sizing strategy as a large opportunity for Kohl’s.”

“In today’s evolving retail landscape, our differentiated approach to fitness continues to drive traffic to shopping centers across the country, and with over 12.5 million members, resonate strongly with consumers,” added Chris Rondeau, chief executive officer at Planet Fitness. “We are excited to announce this initial expansion and partner with Kohl’s to drive new and complementary traffic to these locations, while introducing shoppers to our high-quality, judgement-free, fitness experience at a great value.”

Last month, Kohl’s announced that it was teaming up with Weight Watchers, carving out roughly 1,800 square feet in a Chicago-area store to use as a Weight Watchers meeting space for Kohl’s shoppers and members of the weight-loss program. Kohl’s will also sell Weight Watchers products in some stores starting in June.

Kohl’s has also said that it would reduce the size of roughly 12 stores and lease the newly opened space to the German discount supermarket chain Aldi. In 2017, Kohl’s handed over designated space in several stores to Amazon, where the e-commerce giant’s own sales associates could sell tablets, TVs and other gadgets that connect with Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa.