Decathlon isn’t your ordinary sports store, it’s a hub where sports enthusiasts of all ages can not only shop for affordable products but test them out before they buy. With over 65 sports and 7,000 products, the French company has been transforming sports and outdoor shopping habits since it opened its first store in Canada in 2018. Now with 11 stores in Canada, including their retail and automated warehouse concept store that opened in Calgary in November, sports have never been more accessible.
Decathlon is addressing the many barriers preventing people from being active; namely affordability, lack of equipment, little sport knowledge and access to a place to practice. Their team of sports specialists enthusiastically offer advice and all stores have test zones and offer sports classes in their gymnasia – known as “Decadiums”.
“Participating in sports shouldn’t be a luxury,” says Jaylone Lee, Decathlon’s CMO. Their fair pricing policy backs that up. “As we design and manufacture our own products, we challenge teams throughout the supply chain to gain efficiencies through volume and innovation, all in the name of making sports more accessible.”
“The benefits of sports on physical and mental health are huge. So having a positive impact on society is also core to our mission,” adds Lee. This philosophy resonates from the ground up through their employees who are empowered to share ideas and take initiative, such as forming a Diversity and Inclusion Committee in 2021.
From the company’s commitment to inclusion and accessibility in sports came the idea to create ability signs. “We wondered what would happen if we could make the traditional static wheelchair symbol more active,” says Lee. The result was a series of modified symbols depicting various sports. When the symbols were launched in August 2021, the response was overwhelmingly positive. “We were honoured that Plaine Commune, the territory North of Paris where the Paris 2024 Olympics and Paralympics will be held, decided to deploy ability signs across some of their parking spots,” adds Lee. Despite their popularity Decathlon has no intention to market the symbols commercially and all of them are available for free download at www.abilitysigns.ca. “We are just at the beginning of a journey to change our perception of disabilities, and we invite anyone and everyone to partake.”
Decathlon plans to continue its expansion across Canada. Its next confirmed store opening will be a Decathlon City store at Union Station in Toronto in Summer 2022, with additional GTA store openings expected to be announced throughout the year.
Southcentre Mall, 100 Anderson Rd SE, Calgary, T2J 3V1