Ever since the French sports retail brand, Decathlon, set up shop here in the Philippines in 2016 with the hashtag SportsForEveryJuan, it’s been a haven for serious sports enthusiasts. Their Decathlon Alabang, Pasig, and Masinag locations would take on the form of ‘pilgrimages’ for those seeking quality sports equipment and apparel that one just doesn’t find in the regular sports shops in the Malls. Well, all that is about to change, as Decathlon has entered into an agreement with SM Supermalls, and their city concept stores will unveil very soon at SM North EDSA and SM MOA. And that’s the best of news for those who know how Decathlon is the true one-stop shop for Sports of all kinds – as it’ll mean more convenience and accessibility to Decathlon!
For those living under a rock, Decathlon S. A. is a French sports retailer brand whose global footprint translates to over 1,647 stores, scattered over 57 countries. The company handles its own Research & Development, Production, Logistics, & Distribution – all in-house. They partner with global suppliers and market their own brand directly to consumers via their big stores, and online delivery service. They take great pride in saying that Decathlon means affordable sportswear, shoes, and gear for over 70 sports, all of which carry the Decathlon 2-year warranty, and they’re ready to refund any purchase within a 365-day window if brought back in its original condition.
Steven Tan, President of SM Supermalls, and Hans Iff, CEO & Country Leader of Decathlon (Philippines), led the signing ceremony which officially ushers in a new era of how Decathlon will engage with the Filipino consumer. Their big box concept stores will continue in their three locations; but these city concept retail areas will mean while size and interaction still matter, the Decathlon brand will now reach a much wider audience. By the way, if you want to be a purist about it, the French pronunciation is one puts the emphasis on the first syllable, forget the ‘h’, and say the last syllable like you’re saying the word ‘long’—but without the ‘g’, and the ‘n’ fading. And there, you’re ready to enter the store saying the brand correctly.
Speaking to Hans Iff, he was ready to accept that the pandemic had definitely changed the face of retail, and that their online capabilities became important in the current business model. But he was excited to talk about the city concept stores that will soon rise at the SM Supermalls locations, as the Decathlon experience is still about trying out the product, feeling your way around them, checking the fit, and even simulating particular movements and routines while wearing and road-testing your prospective purchase. Online can never replace that, and it’ll only be a matter of time before the health and safety protocols relax, and he enthused about how the SM Supermalls promise a safe Mall-ing experience.
He relayed how Decathlon has ready and extensive apparel and equipment for biking, for running, for yoga, for outdoor hiking & trekking; and he’s seen how with the pandemic, these sport activities are at an all-time high with the Filipino customer. Those sports are trending globally, so it’s good to know that Decathlon have a ready array of options within those particular sports. In fact, in biking alone, he promised that new customers will be surprised by the selections and range, whether it be the bikes themselves, or the equipment, apparel, and accessories. And I remembered the Tour de France, and how big a sport biking is, back in France.
One unique aspect of the Decathlon DNA is how it’s vertically integrated, designing and developing its own products under more than 20 sports-specific brands. Particular sports groups and sub-groups will even have their own brands. It’s truly a journey of discovery when one enters the Decathlon world. Yoga, for example, is covered by the brand Kimjaly, while Running is subsumed under the Kalenji brand. Inesis covers their Golf apparel and equipment.
It’ll just be a short wait now, and the Decathlon stores at the SM Supermalls will be opening their doors, making the Decathlon experience far easier to access and enjoy.