Developing our global reach
Through the 1000 store barrier
Decathlon’s international expansion rose sharply in 2015, with the opening of 140 new stores across the world (103 in 2014), passing the iconic barrier of 1000 stores. New retail countries saw the arrival of their first Decathlon stores, such as Slovakia and Thailand. By the end of 2015, Decathlon’s own-branded products were available in 29 countries throughout a network of 1030 stores. This physical growth is accompanied by a digital strategy enabling users to buy their goods through whichever channel they desire.
New Decathlon stores opened in 2015
To be present where we are needed the most
The development policy of the company focuses on mature markets where there is still plenty of potential ie. Western Europe; and also developing countries where the potential for growth is high, but the sports markets are not yet mature. Our intention is to grow the market for sports within these markets. Many retailers prefer to only go where markets are mature, but Decathlon prefers to anticipate future needs, and therefore contribute to creating the market for sport. There is an acceptable element of risk associated to this.
Store openings in Thailand and Slovakia
What is the purpose of Decathlon’s global expansion?
Decathlon contributes to making people healthier. When we practise sports it helps to keep us in good health. As we sell sporting goods, we are promoting healthier life-styles, therefore I believe the purpose of Decathlon is very meaningful. Yes of course, we are a business, but we also help local populations stay in shape, and we want to make this available for the many. When we study the feasibility of opening in new countries, we take into consideration both human factors and financial factors. We have a social impact when we arrive in a country as we create employment. Decathlon not only provides jobs, the company also proposes training and career paths to develop skills and reveal talents.
Why did Decathlon open in Thailand in 2015 ?
We have been present for years in Thailand as we have a production office there. We always knew we would open retail stores there one day, as our Asian strategy is to first open a production office, with a view to developing retail activity in the future. In the past 10 years we chose to concentrate our efforts on retail expansion in China. In 2015 we had an opportunity to open 5 stores in Thailand, and we decided it was the time to make our goods available for the local population.
What are the key figures for 2015?
Growth was particularly strong in China, with the opening of 51 new stores in 2015 (of which 2 were opened in Taiwan), taking the country total to 166 stores. China is now Decathlon’s second strongest presence after France, 300 stores. Our real estate team of 120 people plans to open a further 60 stores in China by the end of 2016.
How can you explain this sudden boost in development?
We observe that by making sport accessible to people, it can actually change people’s opinions and habits. As the company grows nationally, we notice that our presence inspires people to want to have a store in their own hometown. There is a movement for change, people are on a quest for meaningfulness, and they can achieve this via sport.
What local impacts does your expansion strategy have?
Typically, in China, as in many areas of strong growth, property developers look to optimise every single square metre. We are not alone in competing for prime real estate but we have very good reasons to convince town planners. Through our purpose, we contribute to better lifestyles and a better level of health. We are unique in this segment.
It’s true that air pollution is a real issue in China and we are very sensitive about this, as the outdoors is our playing field. But in fact, development in China is one of the most sustainable models as generally factories are within one hour of stores, reducing transport time. 90% of our Passion brand products sold are sourced domestically, what we call our ‘China for China’ policy.
How has the Chinese infrastructure and customer behaviour influenced your development?
In China, 50% of turnover is generated from people who take public transport, so we don’t need huge car parks, therefore we use less space. We need to be present where people are present, such as shopping malls, where Chinese people like to spend time with family and friends. We now have half our stores in shopping malls.
In terms of our buildings, when we own our property (20% of stores), we guarantee that the stores meet the LEED level 1.
LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is an environmental building certification program used worldwide that includes a set of rating systems for the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of buildings.
French ECOSPORTS Awards
Decathlon won an award for its sustainable buildings at the 1st event of the Ecosports Awards (January 20th 2016). Decathlon’s development policy involved the eco-conception of 19 of its sites in France, including stores, passion brand HQ and warehouses. These sites, recognised as either HQE or BREEAM, have made energy saving of at least 50%, which translates as a average yearly reduction of between 50 and 80 kWh/m2 per year.
Decathlon has also focused its attention to LED lighting, initially by switching to LED for the 100 stores that used the most energy. It has also been able to make savings of 2 million euros. In the coming year, Decathlon France will continue these efforts to environmentally certify their buildings, and develop buildings that create positive energy.
Eco-designed stores in France