Sporting goods retailer Decathlon to open first store in Australia before Christmas

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Exercise Bikes
A view of a gym at a spa facility at Warszawianka Hotel in Jachranka, 30 km outside of Warsaw, December 22, 2011. Reuters/Peter Andrews

Global sporting goods retailer Decathlon announced its plans to open about 100 stores in Australia. The first flagship store is currently under construction near IKEA in the Sydney suburb of Tempe and is slated to open in October, which will be followed by a second store in Melbourne in 2018.

Decathlon Australia's chief executive Olivier Robinet and chief financial officer Sylvain Baudens revealed through Australian Financial Review that the sporting goods retailer looks forward to opening between two and five stores every year in the next few years.  The stores’ size will range between 3000 and 4000 square metres, twice the size of Super Retail Group's Rebel Sport and Amart stores.

Contrary to what some industry sources anticipated, Robinet said the company was unwilling to open smaller format stores, explaining the sites need to stock its full product range. The size of the store is also important to allow customers to test bikes, tennis rackets and scooters.

Decathlon stores in Australia will offer over 7000 different models in various sporting and leisure categories that include camping and surfing, cycling, kite-flying and taekwondo. Robinet said Decathlon would deliver innovation and lower prices.

The company registers at least 40 patents every year and is known for its product innovation. Its R&D teams, for instance, developed the Easy Breath full-face snorkelling mask. Decathlon had also introduced Fresh & Black tents, which can reduce sunlight in the early morning and keep temperatures 19 degrees cooler compared to outside temperatures.

News about Decathlon heading to Australia comes as Amazon prepares to roll out its full suite of retail products and services in the country. For Robinet, Amazon’s expansion is no big deal for Decathlon as the latter’s major competitor, according to him, is Netflix. "When my son watches movies he doesn't play sports," he said.

Decathlon is expected to directly compete with Rebel and Amart Sports, the nation’s two biggest sport gear and apparel retailers. Both stores are owned by the Super Retail Group.

Robinet sees the country as an attractive market because some of the world's most active people, he said, are here. Meanwhile, a Deloitte reports indicates 39 of the world's top 250 retailers operate in Australia due to the country's strong economic conditions, high consumer demand for international brands and proximity to Asia.  UK department stores John Lewis and Debenhams and American retailer The TJX companies have also unveiled plans to expand in the country.

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