Decathlon sets up shop in Africa’s athletics superpower

The French sportswear and sports equipment retailer has opened its first store in Kenya. The 1,500m² outlet, which the chain describes as a “flagship” store, is located at The Hub Karen mall in Nairobi. Decathlon has indicated that it is planning to open additional stores in the country.

Famed for their prowess as distance runners, Kenyans have won more Olympic medals (100) than the athletes of any other African country. Until now, the Kenyan sporting goods market has been characterised by high margins and low turnover, but Decathlon has always pursued the opposite strategy – positioning itself as something of a supermarket for all things sporting, with private label plays a pivotal role. One unusual feature of Decathlon’s new store is that it is cashless, with only card and mobile payments accepted.

The chain, which currently has almost 1,450 stores worldwide, already had a presence in seven African countries – Côte d’Ivoire, DRC, Egypt, Morocco (where it opened its first outlet on the continent in 2009), Senegal, South Africa, and Tunisia. It earned global revenues of USD12.5 billion during its 2017 fiscal year.

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