Decathlon, the ‘Aldi of sporting goods’, shifts focus in Australia online


However, its biggest investment in 2019 was a redesigned website that launched Monday, he said, which carries more products, will be easier to use and be followed by quicker delivery options.

Today about 8 per cent of Decathlon’s local sales are online, which is roughly in line with the overall retail market. But Mr Robinet said he expected it will grow to more than 20 per cent over the next five years.

If you do 30 per cent of your sales online you should perhaps have 30 per cent less [store space]

Olivier Robinet

“We already are above 20 [per cent] in the UK, in China, in many counties, so why shouldn’t it be in Australia,” he said.

Mr Robinet said he hoped to offer two-hour delivery in major cities within a couple of years, something only a few local retailers such as JB Hi-Fi and Officeworks offer today.

Decathlon would still likely open around 35 stores in Australia by 2026, as outlined when it first launched, but that would be balanced with online demand.

“People love us because of the physical experience… but whatever we do, online will grow,” he said.

“If you do 30 per cent of your sales online you should perhaps have 30 per cent less [store space].”

Mr Robinet said there were risks in growing too quickly, and that many retailers would struggle if they do not adapt to the shift online.

Decathlon has more than 1500 stores across 55 countries and recorded global sales of €11 billion ($17.70 billion) in 2017.

The company would not reveal its local sales figures, but but Mr Robinet said the brand was being well received by sport-mad Australians who did not want to pay high prices for branded equipment by Nike or Adidas.

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For that reason, he said he did not see Decathlon as a direct competitor to the market’s biggest player, Rebel Sport, owned by the ASX-listed Super Retail Group.

“I think we bring something new to the market,” he said.

“We are a new solution between some guys like Aldi and Kmart, who have very low prices but sometimes I don’t know about the quality.

“There some very nice specialists in this part of the world but with crazy prices. So I think we don’t have a direct competitor.”

However, one retailer Decathlon is going after directly  is Aldi. Over the past 12 years the German discount supermarket has built up a cult following for its early winter release of cut-price ski equipment.

This season Decathlon will start selling its ski clothing and equipment brands, Wed’ze and Quechua, in Australia with the hope of taking the crown of affordable snow gear king from Aldi.

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