Decathlon to Shake Up Aussie Sports Retail Market

(Author : Julian Thumm)
Decathlon, one of the world’s largest sports retailers, is entering the Aussie market, driving the largest shake-up to the sports retail sector in years.

Decathlon, one of the world’s largest sporting goods retailers, is preparing for an Australian launch. The entry of the French category killer, which operates 1,031 stores in 27 countries across Europe and Asia, into the Australian market represents a massive shake-up of the Aussie sports retail industry. While an exact launch date has not yet been confirmed, the company plans to go live with its Aussie online store shortly. The Decathlon Australia website states “Our exclusive products will be available online in March 2016.”

Together with its online presence, the company is planning to roll out up to 35 big-box style stores over the next decade. Decathlon CFO Sylvain Baudens told Fairfax Media the company has already identified six store locations in Sydney and Melbourne.

Decathlon’s entry into the $3.5 billion sporting goods market will put significant pressure on current market leaders Rebel and Amart Sports. Super Retail Group, which owns both the Rebel and Amart brands, reported strong performance of its sports division in its recent half-year results. Over the first half of 2015-16, Super Retail Group reported sales growth of 7.2 percent and EBIT growth of 9.5 percent for its sports division (which includes Rebel, Amart and Workout World).

“We are happy with the momentum of the Auto and Sports Divisions, which we expect will continue in the second half given no major external factors impacting consumer confidence,” said Peter Birtles, Super Retail Group MD and CEO.

The entry of Decathlon does represent a major external factor (although not one affecting consumer confidence) and has the potential to take a significant bite out of Super Retail Group’s sports division revenue and margins.

Decathlon boasts of range of products spanning 75 sports, including an extensive range of private-label products. The company also owns some 20-odd sporting brands and operates a research and development division, which employs around 50 full-time researchers and registers 40 patents on average per year.

Decathlon is well positioned to make its mark in the sports-mad Australian market. While Super Retail’s sports division has been a strong performer, it has faced little to no significant competition from other big-box style sports retailers. Decathlon’s international reach, strong brand and massive product line — together with successful launches in Asian markets — means that the company is poised to move in on a respectable share of the Aussie sports retail market.

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