Decathlon opens two-storey Centrepoint outlet

A guest experiencing camping the virtual reality way yesterday at the soft launch of Decathlon's Centrepoint store. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

Decathlon is expanding its footprint in Singapore as its fifth experience store, Decathlon Orchard, opens its doors today.

The Centrepoint outlet is the French retail giant's first store in the Orchard Road shopping belt.

The sports retail specialist unveiled the 3,200 sq m store to the media yesterday, one day ahead of its official opening.

The two-storey outlet, which spans six units, is replacing Metro as The Centrepoint's anchor tenant. This is the first time that Frasers Property Retail, which owns The Centrepoint, has a sports retailer as the anchor tenant in one of its malls.

Mr Nils Swolkien, managing director of Decathlon Singapore, said: "We are excited to bring sports closer to the heart of town and make sports accessible to even more Singaporeans."

Like its other experience stores, Decathlon Orchard incorporates technology in its operations. For example, shoppers can explore tents through a virtual reality headset and experience how these hold up in different environments and weather conditions.

Ms Foo Chai Hong, Frasers Property Retail's head of central leasing, said: "Decathlon's entry at The Centrepoint fits our vision to create immersive retail experiences for our shoppers' evolving preferences. We believe the shopping experience must become more interactive, creative and personalised."

Decathlon first arrived on Singapore's shores in 2013 as an online store. It launched its first physical outlet at Viva Business Park in Chai Chee three years later. Besides the five experience stores, it also has seven click-and-collect stores.

Its range of affordable goods - a pair of running socks, for instance, costs as little as $2.50 - has helped it ride out the downturn caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

While overall retail numbers in Singapore were down by close to 9 per cent in July, Decathlon experienced a 38 per cent increase in sales. Its online sales in July also grew by more than 300 per cent.

But Decathlon is not the only sports retailer to see an uptick since the coronavirus pandemic.

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Bike shop Bikes n Bites said that sales of its bicycles per shipment, which do not include pre-orders, have more than doubled since March.

Its digital sales and marketing manager, Mr Benjamin Lee, said: "Supply has not been able to keep up with the demand."

Although sales of sporting goods have skyrocketed over the past few months, Mr James Walton, sports business group leader for Deloitte South-east Asia, believes that this might not lead directly to a significant contribution to the local sports industry.

Smaller businesses that do not have as great an online presence as sporting goods giants such as Nike, adidas, Under Armour and Decathlon may be at the losing end.

"A lot of the shops in Queensway that don't have an online channel miss out," Mr Walton noted.

Since malls reopened under phase two of Singapore's Covid-19 measures, Mr Sabeer Mohamad, owner of Sah Sports Centre, a sports shop in Queensway Shopping Centre, has noticed about a 30 per cent drop in the number of customers. He said: "Some people are scared to come out. Some say they don't have enough cash to spend on these things."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2020, with the headline Decathlon opens two-storey Centrepoint outlet. Subscribe