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Decathlon Announces 1st Canadian Location

Value-priced large format French sporting goods retail chain Decathlon has announced that it will expand into North America in the spring of 2018 with a location in suburban Montreal. Decathlon could disrupt the Canadian retail industry if it expands nationally, potentially threatening homegrown retail chains including FGL SportsSAIL, Sportium, MEC, and even retailers such as Canadian Tire

Founded in France in 1976, Decathlon Group has more than 1,100 stores in 28 countries, with more than 78,000 employees and revenue of about C$15 billion. It designs, manufactures and distributes a wide range of sports-related equipment and accessories, with over 20 in-house brands dedicated to different sports, and each with its own design team. The company has yet to enter the United States, though it opened a store last year in Mexico. 

Decathlon’s first Canadian store will open in the spring of 2018 at Mail Champlain in Brossard, just outside of Montreal. The company made the announcement in french on its newly launched Canadian website, which notes that the company’s Canadian headquarters are at 1 Place Ville Marie, in downtown Montreal. 

(CLICK FOR INTERACTIVE MAP)
(PHOTO: DECATHLON, VIA TWITTER)

Mail Champlain could be the first of multiple locations for Decathlon, though the chain will be cautious with its expansion, according to a November 2016 report in La Presse (in French). Oberfeld Snowcap represents Decathlon as brokerage in Canada (Contact: Sylvain Charron) and according to Oberfeld Snowcap’s website, Decathlon is seeking retail spaces in the 35,000 square foot to 45,000 square foot range in commercial centres that may also include power centres as well as freestanding locations. 

Decathlon will compete with a wide range of retailers in Canada, given that it carries well-priced sporting goods as well as some related apparel categories. FGL Sports (operating under multiple banners including Sport Chek, Atmosphere and Sports Experts), Sportium, MEC and SAIL could be most affected, and retailers such as Canadian Tire and Walmart, which also carry value-priced sport-related product, could also take a hit if Decathlon takes off in this country. Competition will certainly be present at Mail Champlain, which currently features a combined Sports Experts/Atmosphere space in the mall, spanning about 30,000 square feet. According to Oberfeld Snowcap’s website, Decathlon’s Canadian expansion plans are currently focused within the province of Quebec though given its penetration in other countries, that could be expanded to other regions at some point. 

*Thank you Carl Boutet for notifying us of this announcement. 

*Top photo: Edward Hands via Wikipedia.

Article Author

Craig Patterson
Craig Patterson
Now located in Toronto, Craig is a retail analyst and consultant at the Retail Council of Canada. He's also the Director of Applied Research at the University of Alberta School of Retailing in Edmonton. He has studied the Canadian retail landscape for the past 25 years and he holds Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws Degrees. He is also President & CEO of Vancouver-based Retail Insider Media Ltd.

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15 COMMENTS

  1. Can’t believe they opened at Mail Champlain. A pratically dead shopping mall. Zara, Old Navy, Garage, etc. closed over the years, there is a lot of vacant store. Forever 21 became an outlet because the mall is declining. Everyone go to the nearby DIX30 or CF Les Promenades St-Bruno. I don’t think it’s gonna work, especially that it is their test store to see if they will expand to Canada. Sad, cause I’m sure that if they’ve found a better location, it would have work

    • I agree with you. I’m sure that Sail, Sportium and Sports Experts might have exclusivity on their territory and that’s why they need to go to Mail Champlain. It really sucks that location though. I also think it will be difficult for them.

      • "difficult for them" it seems that you don’t know well Decathlon,
        There is no concurrence in Canada for sports goods, buying specific products in Sports Experts and MEC is a total rip off and i wont even talk about the bike market here who is ridiculous,
        Even if Decathlon is not yet within Montreal they will have a strong impact on the concurrence and a lot of people will get there to buy their goods ( plus they really have some good quality homemade products )

        • I know Decathlon very well! I’ve lived in both Spain and France where Decathlon is (of course) very popular. But yes, even the fact that it is an innovative store with low price, etc. They are unknown in Quebec or Canada. I do think it will be difficult to promote the brand and they clearly need to invest a lot of money in marketing. My point is that it will be harder for them to incite people to drive to Mail Champlain for trying this a concept store they’ve probably never hearded about, than it would be if they opened their store in a more popular shopping mall.

          I’m thinking about the strategy used by H&M or Old Navy (that people in quebec haven’t probably heard before). They opened several store at the same time in the most popular shopping mall. It created a buzz so people wanted to discover the brand, the concept, that was kind of unique at that time. But I think this Decathlon opening va passer sous le radar disons.

          • Craig Patterson here, Editor-in-Chief of Retail Insider. There has been a phenomenal amount of interest in this article, with many thousands of readers. It may become the most read story on Retail Insider for 2017. I’m curious if it’s because of brand awareness, or general interest in a new large-format sports retailer that is entering the market.

          • I found the article after googling "Decathlon Canada" – very familiar with decathlon in France. Googled today because we brought a full face mask snorkel (30 euros) back from France this summer and so many of my son’s friends have asked where they can get one. Very excited they are coming to Canada, even if not to our city – we will be able to buy online I hope. They will give MEC a run for their money.

        • Decathlon will be the Target of Sporting Goods in Quebec. They’re opening in the worst location and customers here are all about branding, SMUs and Private Label aren’t successful and it’s seen as being cheap. They can’t just come here and think they can replicate the same recipe they used and lower income, third world countries. #FAIL

  2. They are fantastic. Quality, prices , variety, their camping gear … just loved shopping there back in Portugal. Please open in Winnipeg

  3. Yay! So happy about that! Finally some awesomeness in the market (I was buying their Quechua tents from eBay, shipping from China, awesome kids stuff too)… So many people asked me about my tent.
    BTW location for Decathlon doesnt really matter – outdoor people will go for these unique products wherever they are – I will from Ottawa anyways!

    • Many thousands of people have read this article — it’s clear that there are many people in Canada that are excited for Decathlon to open stores. here.

      This article is the 2nd most-read on Retail Insider for 2017. We think Decathlon will be a success.

  4. Even if I live in Vancouver I will gona be Decathlon client.I know very very well this brand they have good products at very good prices.In my country they made it too.I ❤Decathlon!!!!

    • I think Decathlon will be very successful in Canada. This was our 2nd most-read article of 2017, which indicates that the company already has a brand awareness. It also indicates some concern from competitors — I tracked some of the original ‘opens’ through Mailchimp when we first reported on this, and some of the email addresses were from some well-known homegrown companies.

      — Craig Patterson

  5. This store is fantastic !! I lived in Spain and before moving back to Canada I stocked up on adventure gear !! Hopefully it’s a success and the prices are as good as in Europe!!

  6. I love Decathalon stores and have visited them in several countries. Finally a reasonably priced all-encompassing sporting goods store for Canada. Hope they come to the Toronto area soon.

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