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Sports Direct on its multichannel strategy

Sports Direct this week unveiled full-year results, with group revenue of £3.2bn in the year to April 30, up by 11.7% on the same time last year. Pre-tax profits of £281.6m were down by 22.2% on last time. Chief executive Mike Ashley said the retailer was on course to become “the Selfridges of sport,” as it moves to a new generation of stores, and that trading in new flagship stores was “exceeding expectations”.

Sports Direct is a Top50 retailer in IRUK Top500 research: here’s what it said about its multichannel strategy.

Digital commerce

Sports Direct has a single web platform underpinning all its websites and ecommerce sites. This, said Sports Direct, means investment in ecommerce and in the online customer experience is made more efficient.

During the full year, the group’s marketing and ecommerce division “significantly re-styled and elevated our fascias’ and brands’ online presence in line with our new generation concept”. It launched an ecommerce app for Sports Direct, which is also adapted for its premium brand Flannels, and its Firetrap lifestyle brand. The app is driven by the group’s centralised web platform, and works on both Android and iOS.


Sports Direct says it is developing more “tailored” approaches to key local markets, now being implemented in initial countries. During the year it bought the final 49% of Portguese business Cacifo Comercio de Artigos de Desportos to take it under full control. Since year end it has bought 50 stores trading as Bob’s Stores and Eastern Mountain Sports in the US, which it will use as a way into the US market and a platform to grow online sales in that market.

New stores

Through its new generation and flagship stores the retailer aims to improve its offering to customers and its relationship with third party brands. Its focus, both in store and online will be on brand and category-led campaigns. “Our key third party brand partners are supporting this elevation with greater marketing assets in-store and online, and we have collaborated on the first major co-branded campaigns which were launched in November 2016,” said Sports Direct in its full-year statement. “These included a premium style of Nike CR7 football boot available in Sports Direct stores, and the adidas Ace 17 football boot. The period also saw the completion of brand showroom suites in Shirebrook which have been developed by Nike, adidas, Puma and Under Armour.”

The move to new format stores will mean closing some smaller stores to relocate into a larger flagship store. “The consolidation of the group portfolio within new generation stores will result in the number of actual stores decreasing, but the total sales area increasing and providing a more comprehensive offering, including speciality sports/fashion brands,” said the retailer.

It is also opening a flagship store on Oxford Street, London, for its Flannels brand. Overall the retailer now has 388 sports stores in England, 37 in Scotland and 27 in Wales. By the end of the year, it had more than 25 new generation stores, including 13 flagship stores. Up to 18 new-look stores will open in the coming year, of which half will be flagship stores, and it aims to have between 75 and 150 flagship stores over the next five to 10 years.


In response to widespread condemnation, including from MPs, of working conditions in its fulfilment centres, Sports Direct has launched a staff feedback inititiative, opened both to staff and agency workers in its Shirebrook warehouses. A new health and safety committee and a wellbeing service have also been launched.

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