French sports retailer Decathlon is planning to open stores at the rate of '10 a year' over the next decade.
There are currently nine Decathlon superstores open in such places as London's Surrey Quays, Nottingham, Sheffield and Belfast with Edinburgh and Warrington due to open in November and December, then Bolton after that.
According to UK trade website BikeBiz, Decathlon currently employs around 1,000 people staff in the UK, with reported annual revenue of around £100 million. The 100 store target will include a new smaller value-style store format – named Koodza – to be introduced by the retailer.
The Manchester area is to be a focus, with Decathlon UK chief executive Steve Dykes explaining, "The UK has massive potential and the North West is a key expansion market for us."
The significance to UK cyclists and the business in general is that Decathlon take their bike department very seriously indeed, as anyone who has ever been to one of the French superstores will testify. Or, indeed, here, with road.cc blogger jimmythecuckoo eulogising last year in his 'homage to Decathlon' that 'some cycle snobs may think this statement is mental but I have nothing but praise for them in general and even in a cycling context.'
On staffing policy, "There is a big focus on recruiting sports people," according to Decathlon's Kimberley Bower, "so people who do sport to a good level or are very passionate about sport. We have a few professionals and Olympic athletes working in our UK stores. "
Own-brand value bikes and kit has always been a strength with Decathlon; their bargain-priced Geonaute CW700 Heart Rate Monitor got a 7/10 score in a road.cc review last year and attracting the summary, "Innovative, user-friendly training aid best suited to less experienced riders."