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Decathlon UK sales up as world’s largest sports retailer plans 50th store and new warehousing in omni-channel push

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Decathlon, the world’s biggest sports retailer, has announced plans for further UK investment that will see it open its 50th UK store, create 200 jobs by 2021 and drive up its omni-channel presence, after total annual sales grew 14.4% and online sales increased 19.6%.

The company, founded in France in 1976 and currently operating across 54 countries – up from 51 in 2018 –with sales of €11.3 billion, opened its first UK store in 1999. 

In 2018, the company opened seven new UK stores, as well as completely redeveloping its campus store at Surrey Quays in Central London, adding 5,000 sqm of retail space and a new UK head office.  It also increased its UK head count by an additional 248 ‘team mates’ (to a total of 1606) all of whom have the opportunity to become co-owners in the business under its shareholder scheme.

Decathlon has progressed with the development of its omni-channel retail offering to customers, investing in a new UK warehouse in order to service its growing presence in the UK.

This £34 million (22.8 million Decathlon UK and 11.2 million Sportstock – Decathlon UK’s real estate company)investment in stores, operations, digital, staff and staff training and the company’s planned future investment is a mark of Decathlon’s commitment to the UK which is seen by the group as a strategically important to its future growth.

This level of investment means that Decathlon UK has reported a £10.8 million loss before tax for 2018, in line with expectations. The business reports that positive trading figures in 2019 are already justifying its investment and future expansion plans.

Alberto Bottan, CFO at Decathlon UK says: “While 2018 was a challenging year for the retail sector for a variety of reasons, 2019’s year-on-year performance has been very encouraging.  Already we are seeing positive 2019 YTD performance with 15.9% total growth, including 27.1% growth in online turnover.

He continues: “There has also been encouraging performance across the UK, including a profitable first year for our new concept compact store in High Street Kensington.”  

Bottan says: “We are also seeing our growth as a nation-wide brand in the UK, with positive online performance mirrored by growth in those communities where we are becoming more established, especially in Scotland with our Braehead and Edinburghstores achieving 8.1% and 7.9% turnover growth respectively in 2018.”

He concludes: “We have also seen very strong sales for our innovative products, which are both designed and created within Decathlon.  For example, our Easybreath full face snorkelling mask (the first to allow people to breathe as easily underwater as on the land) saw sales of over 82,000 quantities in the UK alone.  We also saw strong sales for our award-winning Quechua Arpenaz Family Camping Tent and our new range of Rockrider mountain bikes. This positive trading has encouraged further investment in the UK, not only in new stores, but also in creating a true omni-channel, seamless service between our store and online experiences.”

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