Decathlon has reopened its Surrey Quays superstore following a £14m refurbishment, which has doubled the branch’s size.
The sports clothing and equipment specialist’s upgraded London flagship spans 90,000 sq ft and includes testing areas for shoppers to try out products across more than 70 sports.
From a rooftop basketball court to a virtual golf course – with onsite trainer to help shoppers perfect their swing – this store has put experience at the heart of its in-store offer.
It carries more than 13,000 SKUs for sports ranging from surfing to horse riding, and offers services including tennis racket restringing.
The upgraded store is one of Decathlons’s 42 UK branches – a number UK director John Butcher says it wants to increase.
“The new Surrey Quays store has doubled in size and makes a statement about our plans to invest and grow in the UK,” he says.
“There are few, if any, retail facilities like this in the country where shoppers can participate in more than 70 different sports in a purpose-built setting.”
Butcher says the retailer is mulling more city centre stores and would like to extend its bricks-and-mortar presence to the South West, where it has no stores.
But, while he says the recent spate of CVAs has freed up some good retail real estate, finding the right location is still a challenge.
“Whether it’s a big box or a smaller store, having an experiential store is crucial for us, and space is a major constraint in that respect,” he says.
Decathlon plans to learn lessons from its Surrey Quays store, which was its first UK store and is now one of its largest Europe, and apply them to its wider estate.
The retailer has also invested in upping the expertise levels of its store staff. Butcher says staff are advised to “sell to shoppers like they are your best friend”, meaning that you find the best product for them rather than focusing on a particular price point.
The retailer has also appointed around 40 members of its 1,300-strong UK staff as resident sport experts in its key sales categories.
The experts research products, visit the sports retailer’s international estate and tailor the UK offer.
A sports expert can also be any level of seniority – the store manager of the retailer’s Warrington branch is one, as is Butcher himself for Decathlon’s tennis range.
This knowledge is coupled with a competitive price point. Butcher says the retailer aims to have its entry level products be priced 15%-20% cheaper than competitor Sports Direct.