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Sporting Life Announces Stores in Alberta and Quebec as it Expands Operations Nationally [Interview]

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Retailer Sporting Life is poised for further Canadian expansion as it rolls out its sports lifestyle brand to more locations in Ontario, Alberta and Quebec – with the promise of more new stores to come in the future.

The retailer started opening new stores in mid-November:

  • Mapleview Centre, Burlington, (opened November 12) – Located at 900 Mapleview Ave. and 37,000 square feet;
  • Southgate Centre, Edmonton (opened November 19) – Located at 5015 -111 Street and 27,276 square feet on level 1 and 8,256 square feet on level 2; and 
  • CF Carrefour Laval, Laval (December 3) – Located at 3003 Boulevard le Carrefour and 26,827 square feet.

In addition to the new store openings, Sporting Life’s flagship Yonge St. location in Toronto recently received an upgraded look. The store now has a new 3,500-square-foot ski and snowboard shop, an expanded tennis shop and the real gem – a premium sneaker shop.

“Our stores are unlike any other and we’ve built an incredible legacy on this, not only becoming the ultimate destination for premium brands, but also by inspiring Canadians to live their Sporting Life,” said Chad McKinnon, President, Sporting Life Group. “Our expansion in Alberta, Ontario and in Quebec allows us to continue to support Canadians’ pursuit of sport, style and passion for getting outside.”

Sporting Life Mapleview (Image: Sporting Life)

Fred Lecoq, the brand’s Chief Marketing Officer who also leads its e-commerce business, said the expansion will bring the company’s store fleet to 14 locations in Canada’s most premium malls as well as the flagship in Toronto.

The company is looking to expand by one or two stores a year to about 18 to 20 stores eventually, covering the major cities in the country. Stores average about 30,000 square feet.

Lecoq said key elements of the Sporting Life stores include:

  • Fully experiential customer journey;
  • Activity is the Point of Entry (not commodity);
  • Famous for Ski / Snow / Running / Tennis and Bikes / Sports and Style;
  • Home of the best brands in Sports and Sports LifeStyle in Canada;
  • Premier high impact visual presentation;
  • Premium Design and construction, high cost to build;
  • Expert level service for equipment and technology;
  • Full Service model with significant investment in labour model; and
  • Small chain that enables localized / customized assortment by micro market.
Frederick Lecoq

“The concept of the store is big format, big radius, big customer draw – all this in an omni-channel environment,” said Lecoq.

“Sporting Life started really as a GTA adventure. So, very strong brand presence in Ontario and as the company grew, expansion followed. The end goal really is to be coast to coast. Montreal is one of the biggest outdoors markets in Canada so it makes plenty of sense for us to be there. Expansion to the West. We had a successful expansion in Calgary with our two stores in (CF) Market Mall and Southcentre (Mall). So there was a legit stretch here going a little bit up north in Edmonton. We saw a white space in those markets where we’ve opened. Big opportunity, white space and the appetite to go from originally being a GTA story to becoming a truly national story.”

Sporting Life at 2665 Yonge Street in Toronto (Image: Sporting Life)

He said future stores will likely be launched in Ottawa and Vancouver and another one in the Montreal area.

“It’s really a store unlike any other. I’m from Europe and I’ve been looking at retail across the world for many years, I haven’t seen a store like that anywhere else,” he added. “A store that first of all has that size, the portfolio of brands that we carry, the combination of sports and style. We’ve got a pretty unique positioning. We’ve got a pretty affluent customer.

“We’re not a commodity store and we will never be a commodity store. We’re really fully experiential, inspirational, high end and focused on the Canadian lifestyle.”

Lecoq said the brand continues to invest in its omni-channel strategy, while also enriching its investment in the retail frontline and creating tangible experiences that truly define Sporting Life as a store unlike any other. 

Sporting Life Collingwood (Image: Sporting Life)

“Ahead of the 2022 holiday season, the brand continues to offer its signature in-person shopping model to more consumers and introduces its unique selection of premium brands to keep Canadians stylish and active, whether they are skiing, snowboarding, gathered apres-ski or cycling, running and playing tennis. Through its additional square footage and passionate staff across the three new stores, Sporting Life has invested to match the demands of consumers who crave the in-store experience. The brand will continue to focus on connecting with its communities and anchoring exceptional in-store experiences through knowledgeable store associates and its state-of-the-art ski and snowboard services that set Sporting Life apart from other retailers,” said the company.

“Emerging from the pandemic and rising to the new expectations of consumers, every Sporting Life location is an affirmation of the brand’s broader expansion strategy and investment in elevating the experiential retail model. With three new brick-and-mortar locations, Sporting Life’s physical footprint has grown to over 500,000 square feet of retail space in total. Evidenced by these openings, the brand will continue to invest in creating in-store experiences inclusive of its passionate teams made up of active enthusiasts and knowledgeable staff. As the official retail partner of the Canadian ski team, Sporting Life’s experts also fit boots and tune skis for professional athletes. Sporting Life continues to reinforce its best-in-class offerings across Canada, including its unique portfolio of premium brands that make it a destination for Canadians living their sports lifestyle, whether it’s skiing, snowboarding, running, biking, playing tennis, or all the above.”

The Sporting Life Group also operates Golf Town with 47 stores coast to coast that carry the largest selection of the best brands in golf, expert staff who share its customers’ love for the game, and state-of-the-art custom fitting services and technology. 

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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