Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Decathlon Philippines Opens at Festival Mall, Alabang

Ask a typical Filipino a few years ago to name whatever sports he could and he would just probably mention what's well-known here like basketball, volleyball, and badminton. Nowadays, Pinoys have thankfully gotten into a wider range of sports and other physical activities such as running, yoga, frisbee, and many more. 

French sporting goods giant, Decathlon, recognized and is tapping this growing market by opening its very first store in the Philippines. Decathlon is one of the biggest sports retailers worldwide. It was established by entrepreneur Michel Leclerq in 1976 in Lille, France and currently operates over 1,200 stores in over 30 countries. The Manila store, located at Festival Mall in Alabang, Muntinlupa City, is already their 16th in Southeast Asia and houses equipment and gear for over 70 sports inside its 3,000+ square meters venue.

According to Decathlon Philippines’ Country Manager and CEO Hans Iff, "As a brand, we want to be able to promote sports in the country. This means not only the sports popular in whatever market we go to, but also other sports. We want to be able to introduce new sports to our customers." 

Aside from popular ones we are already familiar with, the store also carries items for sports that are projected to take off in the country such as rollerblading, dance, and fishing. In the future, the store also plans to include local sports such as arnis and sipa

One of the unique features of Decathlon is the basketball court and sports playground located just outside the establishment. Inside, there’s also a tennis and badminton court, an area to try out skateboards and rollerblades, and an area for biking. 

"Ultimately, the store was designed to enhance customers’ brand experience, inviting them in to touch, feel, and see the quality of our products, the latest innovations, while discovering new sports," adds Iff.

The Philippines is considered an emerging sports market along with tremendous growth as seen during President Benigno Simeon Aquino's term. According to a report by the World Bank, the country’s gross domestic product is expected to grow between 2017 and 2018, which makes welcoming new global brands like Decathlon very feasible.

"We have been interested in the Philippines for quite some time now," explains Iff. "As the country’s economy has gotten more robust and consumers are becoming more wellness-conscious, it is the right time to invest." Filipinos are also generally getting more conscious about fitness and are getting more and more into sports. According to a McKinsey report, the sports industry in the Philippines is projected to multiply four times over the next twenty years, reaching €1 billion by 2026.

He adds, "With more interest in sports and a younger, more health and wellness-conscious population, the business environment in the Philippines seems like a very good place to invest in. We’re very positive that the concept will be well-received here."

During the store's formal launch, guests got to see why the retail giant attributes its success to the concept of hiring "sports leaders" who recognize passion as part of the business. These are individuals responsible for sales as well as for recommending products according to each individual customer. They are also allowed to decide on the inventory and type of products sold for the sport assigned to them. To do that, they must actually practice the sport that they are assigned to. 

"We believe that the best way to serve people passionately or who want to be passionate about a certain sport is to be passionate ourselves. That’s why when someone applies to be a sports leader, it’s required for them to be knowledgeable about and to enjoy the sport," explains Iff.

The importance of knowing about a certain sport is also reflected in its 40 in-house consumer focused brands. The Passion Brands such as Kalenji (for running), Quechua (for camping and hiking), Nabaiji (for swimming and aqua sports), and Geonaute (watches and sports electronics) all represent different sports or a group of sports and are developed by a team of experts.

Iff says each Passion Brand is conceptualized by experts who really practice the sport that they are designing for. "They are responsible for the research, design, development, and testing of their products."

The Decathlon team, when searching for the location of their first Philippine outlet, chose Festival Mall for its convenience and the lifestyle of the Alabang market. "[This] is a very active community. Sports really are alive here, so we couldn’t think of a better location for our first store than Festival Mall. Plus, the mall provides very good parking for our customers and is very easy to go to," states Iff.

Festival Mall is a Filinvest Lifemall. It is the center of attraction within Filinvest City and is considered the heart of the city. The Filinvest mall group is also ensuring that its upcoming mall developments in other locations such as Il Corso in City de Mare, SRP Cebu, FORA in Tagaytay, and Main Square in Bacoor, among others, will constantly resonate the same value of a Filinvest Lifemall. And as its new branding and tagline goes, “It’s where the City’s heart beats”. It is a premier development in Filinvest City, Alabang, Muntinlupa City.  It is the only mall with five anchor stores: Shopwise Supercenter, SaveMore, Robinsons Department Store, Ace Hardware, and Handyman. It has over 700 shops, a total of 2,300 multilevel parking slots, various food outlets, and indoor amusement rides.

At Decathlon, they offer sports for all, all for sports! Drop by, soon, and check out the wide variety of merchandise being offered there!

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