The Franchise Centre

Decathlon to deliver passion to competitive Australian sports retail sector

By Centre Contributor

Decathlon to deliver passion to competitive Australian sports retail sector

French sporting goods giant Decathlon is gearing up for its entry into the Australian retail market, with reports that it will open the doors on its first Sydney store by the end of Spring.

Decathlon, an international sports retail juggernaut that turns over more than $10 billion annually across Europe and Asia, has been eying off Australia for more than a year.

It is now advertising for staff for a spring opening of its landmark first Australian store in the Sydney suburb of Tempe, the first step in its plan to open as many as 100 stores here.

Decathlon’s entry will only further heighten competition in Australia’s hot sports retail sector, where leading player Super Retail Group recently announced it will be converting its Amart Sports stores to its Rebel Sports brand as it fights to retain its dominant position.

We were ahead of the game in highlighting what Decathlon will deliver to the Australian sports retailing scene, and its point of difference is best summed up in one word – passion.

After visiting the Decathlon HQ and flagship store in France last year, Asia-Pacific Centre for Franchising Excellence Adjunct Professor Michael Sherlock nominated the retailer as being at the forefront of the next wave of international retail ‘passion brands’ to hit our shores.

With Decathlon’s first store opening in Australia now imminent, it is worth revisiting some of the key learnings that Michael gleaned from his visit to France last year. His number one message was the passion that is evident throughout the Decathlon retail experience.

“What drives them is passion for their products,” he said. “They invest heavily in R&D to come up with new customer-focused products. A typical example is the face mask/snorkel combination. It comes in one piece and is easy to use, no need for a snorkel bit in your mouth.”

Michael also cited Decathlon’s pole position in bicycle retailing. “They are now the No. 1 bike seller in the world and they make all their own bikes. Their focus is on the everyday user experience, such as bikes for the weekend family user. It is all part of their passion for making sport accessible to all – you won’t find any Tour de France hi-tech bikes here.

“Same with golf, they have their own brand targeted at the social golfer, not the next tour pro. All up, they have around 20 subsets of brands for specific sports activities, all designed for the everyday user.”

Michael predicted that Australian shoppers will see a different style of store with Decathlon, such as click and collect at the front of the store, wide aisles laid out in different sport categories, information on screens around the product, and large areas to try or ride the equipment in the store or in the carpark.

“Australians with their love of sport and all things outdoors should love it,” he said. “I expect them to spend all weekend there as it is more like an entertainment park than a shop.”

You can revisit Michael’s full article on ‘passion brands’ here.


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