Decathlon reports 11% growth for 2017, boosted by international sales

If François de Witte, Decathlon CEO, qualifies 2017 as a year "of transition and transformations", the international sporting goods giant was nonetheless able to report strong growth for last year. The northern France-based retailer achieved a revenue of 11 billion euros in 2017, an 11% jump from 2016. This upturn is due, in large part, to the company's expanding operations abroad which grew 13.4%, to 7.6 billion euros. 


The company is bringing digital technology to its stores and betting on customer service - Decathlon

Of the 185 store openings carried out last year, 176 were outside of France. The company, which operates 1,352 points of sale in 39 countries, expanded into 10 new markets in 2017, including Australia, the US (where it has returned after an 11 year absence), Israel, Switzerland, Colombia and South Africa. 69% of Decathlon's operations are now carried out through exportation (compared to 67% in 2016 and 60.5% in 2014). 

Above all, however, Decathlon has reported a global increase in comparable sales of 4%, against 1% growth in French same store sales. It's a sign that, along with its multiple store openings, the company's export activities are growing intrinsically.

In France, Decathlon's revenue reached 3.4 billion euros, an increase of 3% compared to 2016. Over the course of the year, nine stores were opened in the brand's home country, expanding its domestic network to a total of 310 locations. No statement of retained earnings was made by the company which was voted France's favorite brand at the beginning of the year, but which remains fairly secretive about its balance sheet. 

Now describing itself as an "omnichannel retailer", Decathlon is pursuing digital integration by expanding its click & collect service and seeking to optimize its delivery conditions. The company's online revenues accounted for 4.5% of global sales generated in France. 

The brand is also aiming to improve its product offering. The company, which employs some 80,000 people, is in the process of segmenting its private labels, dividing them into individual sports and creating more agile and autonomous entities. "We are pursuing and amplifying the subsidiarity principle, creating conditions in which each of our collaborators can make the most pertinent decisions locally", stated François De Witte. 


The route of Decathlon's first direct block freight train which transported products across seven countries last autumn. - Decathlon

Closer, faster, more complete, seem to be Decathlon's watchwords for 2018. The company is also evolving its experiential retail strategy, aiming to offer 100% of its products on a try-before-you-buy basis. 

Decathlon also intends to continue developing its environmental efforts. The company's French branch, for example, plans to stop aerial transport of its products. Last autumn, the brand also piloted its first block train which arrived in the North of France from China, full of Decathlon products. 

Translated by Robin Driver

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