Sports in the Philippines has come a long way from it being limited to just the typical ones such as basketball, volleyball, and badminton. Now, Filipinos are getting into a wider range of sports and other physical activities such as Frisbee, hiking, Zumba, and yoga. Tapping into this growing market is French sporting goods giant Decathlon, which recently opened its very first store in the Philippines at Festival Mall in Alabang, Muntinlupa City.
Sports for All, All for Sports
Decathlon is one of the biggest sports retailers in the world. Established by entrepreneur Michel Leclerq in 1976 in Lille, France, the retailer currently operates over 1,200 stores in over 30 countries. The Manila store is already their 16th in Southeast Asia. The new store is over 3,000 square meters and stocks equipment and gear for over 70 sports.
“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,” states Decathlon Philippines’ Country Manager and CEO Hans Iff.
Aside from popular sports such as basketball, football, volleyball, and running, 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.
Another very unique feature is the basketball court and sports playground located just outside the store. 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: An Emerging Sports Market
The Philippines has been recently experiencing tremendous growth. According to a report by the World Bank, the country’s gross domestic product is expected to grow between 2017 and 2018. This 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.
“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,” adds Iff.
Passion as Part of the Business
One factor that the retail giant attributes to its success is their concept of “sports leaders”. Apart from being responsible for sales, sports leaders must also recommend products according to each individual customer and 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 passionate 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,” says 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 is developed by a team of experts.
“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,” he adds.
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.
“Alabang 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.