The trend towards health and fitness and the robustness of at least some parts of physical retail is confirmed in new figures from the UK arm of French sports and leisure retailer Decathlon.

In its annual trading update, it reported gross sales were up 10% in the year to December 2019, while online sales rose 18%. Chief financial officer Alberto Bottan acknowledged that the current year has been complicated by COVID-19 but said “we are very confident in our ongoing performances and we aim to achieve profitability by the end of the year”.

He highlighted “a strong acceleration in terms of urban mobility and fitness categories” and added that the retailer has been “increasing our omnichannel capacities through innovative solutions like delivery from store or very fast, local deliveries”.

Decathlon invested in “physical store, e-commerce and warehouse assets” in 2019, “in expectations of growth, both physically and digitally”. That digital investment left it well placed to cope with lockdown, but the retailer is confident enough of the future of bricks and mortar to be doubling new store openings next year.

In 2020, it opened a new store in West London in August and will open another in Aberdeen before the end of the year; it is planning four new stores in 2021 (one is confirmed for Leeds), Retail Week reported.

Further evidence of the value of Decathlon’s retail proposition – no other retailer matches its range of sporting goods – comes from Ireland where a new Dublin store that opened in June was the most successful new store opening across the 59 countries in which the company operates, according to the Irish Times, with 300,000 people passing though it in three months.

And with 15% of orders coming from outside of Dublin, the retailer is looking to extend its physical presence into other major cities, including Cork, Galway and Limerick. 

Sourced from Retail Week, Irish Times; additional content by WARC staff