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by Dave Rome
March 14, 2019
As the world’s largest sporting goods retailer, the French company Decathlon will soon open its first full-scale store in the USA. Known to be aggressive on price, the vertically-integrated company carries its own brands across multiple sports, and for cycling, those are B’Twin and Triban.
Given Decathlon’s 1500-odd superstores across over 50 countries, it may seem odd to have an article dedicated to single shop due to open in San Francisco, especially given Decathlon officially entered the US market with a smaller test shop in April last year. However, it’s yet another example of a changing landscape in bicycle retail.
Chain stores seem to come and go in America’s bicycle industry. Most recently, the nation-wide chain of Performance Bicycles found itself in severe financial difficulty, with many stores already closed and the remainder in a state of liquidation.
Coincidentally, as one falls, another rises. The country’s largest outdoor-goods retail chain, REI Co-Op, recently announced a renewed focus to growing its bike business. Cannondale bikes, along with Bontrager components and accessories, are now being stocked in all 154 REI stores, while staff are expected to undergo more advanced product knowledge training.
And now, Decathlon have announced the upcoming opening of its first full-sized USA store. Said to be six times the size of Decathlon’s original US market-test “Lab Store”, the new Bay Area, San Francisco-based store shares a shopping center with the likes of Ikea, Target, Best Buy and Home Depot. It’s due to open April 12th.
With increased space, Decathlon is expanding into new markets, including kid’s cycling gear. “It is important to us to provide Bay Area kids and residents affordable, high-quality sporting goods so they can live their best active lives,” said Sophie O’Kelly de Gallagh, Chief Operating Officer of Decathlon USA. A message that carries a strong message for Decathlon’s aggressive focus on low prices.
In many ways, REI’s recent move of selling established and well-supported brands serves as more of a threat to independent bike stores than Decathlon’s entry, but Decathlon shouldn’t be overlooked. Their rate of growth to expand locations has been known to be rapid, all the while besting those who try to compete on price.
Thankfully most independent retailers have already moved away from low-cost competition, with the likes of Wal-Mart and Amazon now dominating that space. It’ll be interesting to see just how many B’Twin bikes start appearing in the streets of San Francisco.
Image shown is of a British Decathlon store.