Almost 300,000 people have passed through the doors of French sports retail giant Decathlon’s Dublin store at Ballymun since it opened in June this year, the most successful new store opening across the 59 countries in which the company operates.
Known as the "Ikea of sports" for its large, warehouse-style outlets and enormous range of keenly priced sporting goods, the company has posted a strong summer at its Irish arm, selling 40,000 backpacks, more than 600 tents and 300 kayaks since it opened.
Since schools reopened, the company has noted a shift toward team sport products and a considerable surge in bicycle sales, selling 200 in the past six days alone. The company expects to receive about 300 bikes per week in the coming three months before the Christmas peak. While it had encountered a shortage of bicycles and cycling accessories, that has now been overcome.
Decathlon has about 12,000 visitors to its store every day on average while online activity represents 24 per cent of activity. The company said about 15 per cent of orders are coming from outside of Dublin, something which "reinforces our desire to formalise a store implementation in Cork, Galway and Limerick if we find good local partners in real estate". "Some discussions are in progress," Bastien Grandgeorge, Decathlon's chief executive in the Republic, said.
Founded in 1976 by Michel Leclercq with the idea of making sport accessible to everyone, Decathlon had sales last year of €12.9 billion. It sells about 1.2 billion individual items annually.
The Leclercq family still controls the business, but workers also hold shares in the group, which now trades in 71 countries. About 40 per cent of its products are made in Europe, with 55 per cent in Asia and the balance in South America.
It plans to open nine shops in the Republic to add to its existing presence at Decathlon Baile Munna, in which it invested about €13 million. In March, the company secured planning permission for a large-scale outlet at the Liffey Valley retail park in Dublin.
The group has expanded its headcount in store since opening, now employing 137, with 37 staff working across ecommerce and the physical store.
Decathlon makes about 95 per cent of the products it sells at its stores, but takes on external suppliers where equipment is particularly specialised. In October, the company will launch its range of hurling products, having sourced two local partners.
To deal with Brexit, the company has decided to ship all of its exclusive products directly from France and is using the European Union, rather than the UK, in its supply chain.