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Decathlon wants to democratize sport in Australia

Decathlon will open its first store in Sydney next October. Here’s the opportunity to talk about the marketing policy of the brand and its development in Australia with Olivier Robinet, CEO.

“Our priority is to develop our digital marketing policy,” says Olivier Robinet (photo Louis Douvis/AFR)

Imposing its brand on Australian territory is the challenge Decathlon’s leaders launched two years ago. As a result, last April, the retail group specialized in sports and leisure products implanted on the island-continent, through its e-commerce site. On July 5, the first store, based at Princess Highway in Temps (South Sydney), started its operation. The opening is schedules for next October.

 Developing e-commerce

Rumors have been numerous by announcing already that decathlon would shake the Australian market (which amounts to 3,5 billion dollars) opening by the next 100 stores on the territory. Olivier Robinet, CEO in Sydney, denies the information. “We have our own type of business model and our goal is to evolve step by step. We move slowly. Those who think we will disrupt the market, they’re wrong! The Australian market should rather be wary of the arrival of Amazon.” He continues: “We actually have the ambition to open other stores but not so much. Our priority is to develop our digital marketing policy. We want to popularize our online store.”

A choice that seems relevant given the immensity of the country. In addition, the population is concentrated mainly on Sydney and Melbourne. That is why the share of purchases on the web is likely to increase sharply over the next few years. The company, which is owned by the Mulliez family, plans to establish itself again via a website in New Zealand as well.

70 000 products in 70 sports

The Decathlon-Sydney’s team.

In terms of sport, Australians are experts with Australian football, netball, rugby, cricket, running and hiking, including soccer, tennis and water sports. “At the moment, quality products in Australia are expensive. One of our objectives is to aim for the mass-market,” explains Olivier Robinet. In order to do so, Decathlon intends to use one of its strengths, namely its research and development activities. The company hopes one day to be able to create its products in Australia but the CEO remains lucid. “The Australian industry is not powerful enough in our field. On the other hand, we are seriously considering producing our nutrition / dietetic brand here.”

Decathlon’s 70,000 products – which do not include brands such as Adidas or Nike – will be sold in 70 different sports that will power the store. The company intends to directly promote low prices and can count on its excellent quality/price ratio. “Many of our products will be cheaper than in France.”

The evolution of the team

“Our obsession will be to quickly satisfy our collaborators and our sportsmen, while democratizing the sport and its development,” says the director. “We really are a start-up here. We will offer other services when we open.” A sports zone will be attached to the store, where customers will be able to experiment with their purchases.

In addition, the team will rapidly expand as it seeks 70 employees (one per sport). Decathlon respects its specifications and its philosophy by recruiting young athletes. But above all, the leaders want to give priority to local employees.

The family business, which celebrated its 40th anniversary last year, continues its development around the globe. Today, Decathlon represents a turnover of 10 billions euros – 33% in France and 67% internationally in 2016 -, more than 1,000 stores and more than 75,000 employees worldwide.

Joffrey Tridon

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