Bryanston, The Big Apple of South Africa will have its own first of its kind Sports Hub in July 2021 – all thanks to International family-owned sporting goods designer, DECATHLON.
Founded in 1976, the France-based company now has 2080 stores in 56 countries and is unique in that they own 20 in-house brands. With a dedicated product development and design team, the second largest Research and Development Team in France after Renault, DECATHLON are constantly innovating and register on average 40 patents per year.
As sports activists, DECATHLON have successfully met a need in the South African market, having opened four classic stores in Johannesburg since their arrival in South Africa in 2017. DECATHLON believes that quality sporting goods should be accessible to the many; being the beginner, intermediate, passionate and advanced, by being sold at a fair price.
Now with further expansion, the DECATHLON Bryanston Sports Hub’s innovative approach offers customers a completely new experience in a highly competitive retail market. The Hub encompasses two storeys of retail space, a third storey with a wellness, strength and conditioning gym, as well as the convenience of 160 undercover parking bays. Twenty-seven South Africans make up the Sports Hub’s staff complement and are managed by Denzley Mthombeni, whose journey with DECATHLON started four years ago. “A blue container in the New Market parking lot caught my eye during my lunch break. On enquiry, I immediately resonated with DECATHLON’S mission and loved the sporting goods they were testing within our market, I sent in my CV and that was the beginning,” says Mthombeni. The Bryanston Sports Hub is also the new South African headquarters of the DECATHLON Academy that provides 5000 hours of training per year to upskilling their employees. Validated trainers share their knowledge across both soft skills and technical topics to fellow Decathlonians.
“Each of our brands is dedicated to a specific sport or practice and designed for each skill level. We reinvest our profits into research and development, helping to give accessibility to sport,” says Xavier Paolozzi, CEO of DECATHLON South Africa. “Our brands are tested and validated in real-life conditions by our technical partners. During these mission tests we ensure they are reliable, safe and adapted to each specific usage.”
The classic stores in Alberton, Boksburg, Roodepoort and Centurion, each home to the apparel and equipment of 60 sports, have an adjacent playground for customers to gather and enjoy their sport of choice and test the DECATHLON products. Professionals, customers and teammates are able to utilise this space, often holding coaching clinics, soccer games, workshops etc. “We innovate to champion the athlete in everyone, our everyday heroes. Whatever the barrier to participation, we innovate to overcome it,” adds Paolozzi.
“The Sports Hub will enable sporting communities to connect and share in similar experiences from all levels of competency,” adds Paolozzi. DECATHLON aims to partner with smaller local businesses and entrepreneurs that share similar values in a healthy lifestyle and a passion for sport, to give them a space to help boost them in their entrepreneurial journey.
Key partnerships have also been established with trusted brands such as Biogen, Garmin and others, who will occupy their own “store within a store” concept. In addition, a Café owned by a South African sporting hero will supply healthy snack options. Further exciting innovations within the Sports Hub are two large transport containers, with strong symbolism lying in community upliftment, innovation and sustainability. On entry, the fully solar-powered community container utilising local resources, becomes a sports equipment washing and sports merchandise alteration and repair station, run by previously disadvantaged members of the surrounding community.
As the world’s largest sports retailer, satisfied or satisfied is a simple yet powerful promise DECATHLON makes to their customers, reflected in their 365-day return policy and 2-year warranty on their products. DECATHLON also offers a corporate gifting and branding service as well as wholesale opportunities to resellers who align with the company’s ethos. The online store ships nationally.
Main Image: Johannesburg