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Decathlon store in Bromley

Decathlon? No not the sporting event. The retailer. For me this name evokes memories of a 1980's French trip? But they’ve actually been in the UK since 1999! With 47 UK stores, they're aiming for 300 in the next decade, with their latest opening soon in #Uxbridge!

So, what's the French connection? Well Decathlon was founded in 1976 in France and is still family owned. With over 2,080 stores in 56 countries it's the largest sporting goods retailer in the world. I had no idea!

How do they stand out from other #sports shops?

Their goal is to make sports inclusive for everyone, regardless of their skills, experience, or budget, by consistently offering competitive prices, reinvesting profits into research & development, and producing their own goods in-house. They aim to sustainably make the pleasures and benefits of sport accessible to the many. That’s pretty neat, eh?

John Butcher says: “Decathlon is all about engaging with families as our mission is to bring the fun and benefits of sport to everyone in the local community.” You can't beat community engagement John!

Thinking about it, I can’t think of any other retailers that have quite the same offering? Maybe GO Outdoors LTD? UK sports shops tend to be fashion related generalists, or super niche specialists. It’s very tricky to experience the products in most stores. Decathlon’s aim is almost unique in breadth & scale.

What piqued my interest in the brand this week? It’s an announcement they're rolling out their buyback service to all UK stores as part of the brand’s push for sustainability. Customers can exchange products they've outgrown or no longer require for store credit. We Are Acuity love a bit of circular retail!

They say 50% of adults have unused sports equipment stored in their house with unused bicycles making up 18% of that. Post-pandemic I know of many laying dormant in sheds & garages!

Kicking off the buyback service with their in-house bicycle range it will subsequently extend to encompass all product categories, including kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, rackets, and fitness equipment in the coming year. They've already bought back & resold 251,000 products as part of the scheme in Europe. That is admirable.

I don’t have a local Decathlon store right now, (please come to #Watford!) but earlier this year I happened upon a store in #Bromley. I spent some time (and some money!) immersing myself in the experience and was very impressed.

In-store merchandising, signage, and the blend of physical & virtual shopping was streets ahead of many mainstream retailers. I was excited by the prospects of gaining a new hobby (or obsession!) and it all felt very accessible rather than intimidating in a way specialist shops can be.

But there was also another standout focus that caught my eye, and that was #sustainability. It’s clearly important to the retailer. This latest announcement continues the progress. Well done Decathlon! Sustainable business is good business!

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