Updated March 17th, 2024 at 19:18 IST

Decathlon to push production, expansion investments in India: CEO

The French sports retailer said India is an important manufacturing hub, exporting around 65 per cent of production to global markets.

Reported by: Business Desk
वैश्विक स्तर पर भारत डेकाथलॉन | Image:Shutterstock
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Sports retail giant Decathlon has called India as one of its most important global markets, and is ramping up investments and elevating its presence in the country.

Global CEO Barbara Martin Coppola  said the French chain anticipates a continuation of high growth from India.

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The country is also coming up as an integral manufacturing hub for Decathlon, she added, from where 65 per cent of production is exported to global markets.

India is also among the top ten global markets for Decathlon, and on an upward trajectory at twice the rate of others, Coppola stated.

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Decathlon first entered the India market in 2009, she said, and is operating a network of 129 stores in the country.

Speaking on evolving the sports culture in India, Coppola said she is “really impressed” with how the sports culture is evolving in India, specifically among the middle class.

They are slowly engaging themselves in different forms of sports, as their income levels rise with the growth of the economy.

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"We see a real appetite for overall sports consumption, people wanting to try new experiences. And to be honest, there is an energy that is just beautiful to see at the stores... for Decathlon, (India) for sure is one of the major markets," she said in an interaction with PTI.

Pertaining to India investments, Coppola said Decathlon plans to accelerate local production and sourcing, expanding its retail sales network in the country.

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She did not outline a specific number, but said they are accelerating presence from a retail as well as a production perspective.

In terms of the outlook for India and its role in global operations, Coppola said it is a major country for Decathlon on the back of digital technology, creativity of production and experiences that make it interesting for the world.

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"I am very impressed by the know-how, which has been acquired progressively," she added.

Bike manufacturing is not a simple task, but India is manufacturing them and also backpacks, tents and textiles - with the range continuing to increase, Coppola pointed.

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Decathlon is also looking at taking up the local sourcing of sports goods sold in the country from 60 per cent currently to 85 per cent in the coming two years.

"Currently 65 per cent of what is produced in India (by Decathlon) is exported. That part would grow bigger and continue to grow," Coppola added.

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When asked about the growth drivers for Decathlon in India, Coppola said there are different factors, with the overall society getting into sports.

This is opposed to only 5 per cent of the Indian population participating in sports earlier, which is now having more growth as different sports are being adopted. There are more avenues for sporting in India, she added.

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This is also helped by factors such as a rise in income, which leads to "more wealth, more spending on sports and leisure".

"Now India has more unicorns, experiences and know-how that exist in the ecosystem of India, there are fantastic opportunities and sports is one of the industries, which is exploding. There would be many more," she added.

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Decathlon's app has seen close to 29 million downloads in the country, Coppola said, and added that the brand has been able to offer "one of the best omni-channel experiences -  involving not just the sale of sports goods but also giving them space for sports-related activities at the stores.

Decathlon is the official partner for Paris 2024 Olympics, and said it would be delighted if India gets an opportunity to  host the major international multi-sport event. The Indian government is bidding to be a host for Olympics in 2036.

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Decathlon, which started from being  a cash-and-carry retailer when it entered the country in 2009, was given approval for being a single-brand retail by the government in 2013.

Decathlon India’s sales registered a 37 per cent growth of Rs 3,995 crore in the March financial year.

(With PTI Inputs)

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Published March 17th, 2024 at 19:18 IST