For a purported “sporting nation”, it comes as something of a surprise that the sports goods stores category in Australia isn’t more competitive. Following its acquisition of Rebel Sport in 2011, Super Retail Group Ltd has been the category leader, with retail value sales experiencing year-on-year growth and approaching a 40% share of the A$3 billion category. However, this could soon be set to change, following the announcement that the French retail giant Decathlon is set to unveil its first physical store in Australia in October 2017. The company has had a localised web presence since April 2016.
Decathlon is highly likely to succeed in Australia, due to its combination of design, quality and low price for a range of sporting equipment and apparel. While Australian consumers are no stranger to performance-designed sportswear at affordable price points, given its abundance at specialist sports goods stores, apparel retailers, mass merchandisers and department stores – not to mention online – the real point of difference for the French retailer is its private label sporting equipment. Being able to stock up on all the essentials for their sports will be ground-breaking for Australian consumers, as it’s often the required accessories, footwear and protective gear that adds to the final bill. This will be particularly relevant for parents with sporting youngsters; Decathlon’s low price point will be appealing for those who need to replace equipment by the season.
The company is well regarded in France as an innovator, and holds “Innovate smart” as a core objective, as demonstrated by its flagship products, such as the Quechua 2 Seconds Tent range or the Easybreath surface snorkelling mask.
Decathlon SA leads the sports goods stores category in France, with a 30% retail value share that has grown from 24% in 2011. The company reports 301 stores in France in 2016, which account for one-third of its revenue. There are an additional 875 international stores across Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas.
In Australia, Rebel Sport is the long-time leader of the sports goods stores category, with an 18% retail value share in 2016, but Super Retail Group isn’t the only company that should worry: the annual private label ski launch for discounter Aldi, for instance, will certainly lose some of its lustre when Decathlon has its winter collection available season-long.
The establishment of a bricks-and-mortar store will ensure that the brand goes far beyond any word-of-mouth advertising from the local French expat community, upon which the Australian website has largely relied upon thus far. It’s highly fitting that the first physical site, in the Sydney suburb of Tempe, will be located next to IKEA, another European company renowned as a private label innovator.
For the moment, there is still work to do to ensure an exact fit between Australian seasonality and sporting preferences. The lack of a cricket range on the Australian website over summer 2016-17 was perhaps the most glaring inconsistency with the local market; however cricketers are well covered on the company’s UK website, so perhaps it will take the establishment of a physical store to rectify this omission.