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Decathlon invests in India push

French sports activities retailer Decathlon is doubling down on India, investing in manufacturing within the south Asian nation because it appears to be like to faucet the quick rising market and diversify its international manufacturing bases.

The group, which is the third largest athletic retailer on this planet after Adidas and Nike by gross sales, mentioned that it could make investments €100mn over the following 5 years into its retail, logistics and manufacturing operations within the nation.

“As India is producing increasingly for India, it may well additionally produce increasingly for the world”, mentioned Barbara Martin Coppola, the chief government of the sporting items big, which has 1751 shops in 72 nations. Of those 104 are in India.

Of the merchandise that it sells in India the corporate at present manufactures 60 per cent regionally, which it’s aiming to extend to 85 per cent by 2026. Indian manufacturing now accounts for 8 per cent of Decathlon’s international manufacturing — a quantity it’s trying to develop within the coming years.

Martin Coppola’s feedback got here as the corporate reported international gross sales progress of 12 per cent to €15.4bn in 2022, with internet revenue up 1 per cent to €923mn.

The corporate is privately owned by the outstanding northern French Mulliez household, whose retail empire additionally consists of DIY retailer Leroy Merlin and grocery store Auchan, which collectively had revenues of €40bn in 2021.

Martin Coppola in Decathlon’s design centre. The group can be investing in China, the place it has 200 shops © Magali Delporte/FT

Like many western firms, Decathlon got here underneath public strain to exit Russia within the wake of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Decathlon introduced it was “suspending” operations within the nation following sanctions and cabinets quickly ran naked with the corporate unable to restock.

“[Decathlon] shops are closed, we’re not promoting any objects from Decathlon in Russia,” Martin Coppola added, declining to touch upon whether or not the corporate was trying to promote its Russian property. “We’re taking a look at choices,” she mentioned.

Auchan and Leroy Merlin have come underneath scrutiny for his or her choice to stay in Russia whereas many different western firms pulled out. Leroy Merlin final week bowed to strain and introduced plans to promote its property in Russia to native administration.

Nevertheless, a choice by one group’s firm didn’t mechanically imply a change in coverage at others, Martin Coppola warned. “The group respects the autonomy of each firm, so whereas Decathlon has suspended since [the] early days that hasn’t been the case for different cousin firms,” she mentioned.

Any firm saying plans to withdraw fully from Russia should now cope with a brand new requirement that these promoting Russian property and exiting the nation will obliged to make a direct donation to the state, equal to 10 per cent of the worth of the sale.

Regardless of rising geopolitical tensions, Martin Coppola mentioned that Decathlon “takes an extended view” on relations with China and would proceed to spend money on the nation, by which they personal 4 factories and 200 bodily shops.

“China to us can be one of the crucial digitally superior nations on this planet. It’s essential for Decathlon to proceed to evolve on the velocity of China,” she mentioned, including {that a} fifth of the retailer’s €1.2bn gross sales in China in 2022 had been on-line, pushed up by the rolling lockdowns throughout the nation.

Gross sales of house health club gear resembling treadmills and stationary bikes fell final yr as Covid restrictions had been lastly lifted throughout a lot of the world. Nevertheless, demand for outside sports activities gear and particularly racket sports activities pickleball and paddle had been “exploding”. Decathlon additionally introduced earlier this week that it could introduce a rental service for merchandise resembling bikes, tennis racquets and kayaks.


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