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SECTOR FOCUS Sport: Sportmaster – the dark horse of sports retail?

An international multi-category, multi-brand retailer of sports and outdoor product – including apparel, footwear and equipment – Sportmaster operates in Russia, Belarus, Denmark, Poland, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzsta and Armenia. It also has branch offices in China, Bangladesh and Vietnam, along with its HQ in Singapore.

Founded in 1992 in Russia, the company rapidly grew to be the largest sports and outdoor retail chain in Russia and the CIS by the turn of the millennium, with more than 1 million visitors a year – a large number for such an early online venture. Opening stores and sites across the region, the retailer has grown to be the fourth largest sports and outdoor retailer in Europe and the 16th in the world.

Much of it growth has come from buying up other sports retailers in the markets it seeks to expand into. For example, it moved into the Danish market in 2019 through the acquisition of Sport Nordic Holdings, which ran a number of sports chains in Denmark. 

Across the sector, Sportmaster sells its own brand goods, as well as partnering to sell a range of well-known brands, including Columbia. Nike, Merrell, Sketchers and specialist ski company, Fischer.

As the company has expanded across Eastern Europe, into some of the less well-served regions, its revenues have remained relatively static, but its traffic levels have slowly increased between 2017 and 2019. A drop was seen in 2020, but traffic is again climbing as post-pandemic ecommerce grows in the regions served by the retailer. 

However, there are fears that the ongoing situation in Ukraine as of mid 2022 may hurt revenue growth in its native Russia and, despite being HQ-ed in Singapore, its Russian links may tarnish the retailer in some of its putative western European markets.

Read more in the RetailX European Sports Goods Sector report, which you can download here

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