French sporting goods retailer Decathlon has recently opened its first store in Dhaka’s Uttara targeting Bangladesh’s growing market of health consciousness and fitness business.
Items for football, cricket, basketball, swimming, cycling, trekking, hiking and walking alongside sports textiles, backpacks, tents and other accessories and fitness products are available in the new store.
The company will source products for the Dhaka store mainly from its warehouse in India and it will provide after sales service and accept returns.
It also says prices of products are “very affordable” in the store, such as a football ranging between Tk 449 to Tk 1,599.
The French family-owned company opened the store on July 12, Deepak Dsouza, country manager of Decathlon in Bangladesh, said last week.
With an annual revenue of over €12 billion, Decathlon has 1,500 stores in 54 countries, including almost all major economies. In South Asia, it has 70 stores in India and one big store in Sri Lanka.
Surprisingly, Bangladesh has long been one of the over 28 countries, including India and Sri Lanka, which the company has in its list of sourcing destinations, currently ranking as the third biggest after China and then Vietnam.
The company first made an appearance here 20 years ago and 10 years later established its own office in Dhaka and Chattogram, employing some 200 staff in total.
Annually, the company sources 100 million pieces of items like tents, shoes and metal frames of bicycles from 50 suppliers in Bangladesh, creating employment for some 50,000 people.
“We have some four (dedicated) industrial partners,” said Dsouza.
Explaining why it went for opening a store in Bangladesh, he said, “Decathlon is trying to make sports accessible for everybody in Bangladesh. So we are initially concentrating only on sports equipment.”
Cricket is the first choice of people in Bangladesh and football second, he said.
Despite this, interest on other sports is growing, especially in Dhaka, such as cycling and running, which have a very big sports community, said Dsouza.
“Obviously, Bangladesh is now a very potential country with more than 160 million people.”
There is also a growing group of middle-income people and many of them are becoming health conscious and taking part in sports to remain fit, he said. It is creating an opportunity for Decathlon to come and strengthen its presence in Bangladesh, Dsouza said.
“Bangladesh is still growing and that’s exactly the reasons why we came. Because we understood that there is a rapid growth that is really not comparable to other countries,” he said.
Asked, Sabrina Jacksteit, retail leader of Decathlon, declined to reveal the Dhaka store’s monthly sales figure. It is too early to reveal such data as it had been little over one month past its opening.
“But we have a target. We are very close to achieving the target. We are happy with the first month sales and we are quite optimistic,” she said.
She said it was impossible to exactly state the size of the market for sports items as organised sports retailing is yet to start in Bangladesh.
However, the company’s full year market study states that Bangladesh’s sports market was going to turn bigger soon.
“Bangladesh is like a blue ocean for the company as still there is no competitor here. We definitely hope that one day we will be able to open our typical Decathlon store in different cities in Bangladesh in future,” said Jacksteit.
“The company has been planning to sell the goods through online like Amazon. We will open the website soon for selling the products online,” she added.