SINGAPORE - Riding on a tie-up with national sports agency Sport Singapore (SportSG), sporting goods retailer Decathlon is set to open its biggest store here yet.
The store in Stadium Boulevard in Kallang - Decathlon's fourth here - will be about 5,000 sq m in size and is expected to open its doors in January next year.
Decathlon announced the news at its Bedok store on Tuesday (May 22), where a memorandum of understanding was signed by its Asia chief executive Yves Claude and his SportSG counterpart Lim Teck Yin.
Called the Decathlon Singapore Lab, the store is the first of its kind in Asia, pioneering the use of technology like virtual simulations and augmented reality.
Customers trying out a pair of shoes will be able to get foot scans, for example.
"Traditional retail is in trouble around the world. The expectations of customers are changing very quickly, they will not come just for the (store's) layout," said Mr Claude.
"We want to do something different here and that's why we need the space. The experience will not be perfect immediately but that's why we are calling it a lab."
The store has a 15-year lease from SportSG, which owns the land.
As part of the agreement with SportSG to promote participation in sport, the store will also feature sports events and clinics for customers in its free-to-play areas and an Active Health Lab.
Active Health Labs are facilities under SportSG's Active Health movement which provide free screenings that look at health indicators.
"It's unusual for an agency like us to sign an MOU with a retailer but Decathlon share our goal to make sports accessible," said Mr Lim.
Decathlon will also continue to provide equipment and apparel to the 10 ActiveSG academies and centres islandwide.
ActiveSG, the national movement for sport, currently has more than 1.4 million members.
Decathlon's Bedok store, opened in January 2016, was its first here.
It also has outlets at City Square Mall and the Fairprice Hub in Joo Koon, with the three stores seeing a total traffic of two million annually. The Joo Koon store is currently the biggest at 4,000 sq m.
Worldwide, the French company boasts more than 1,300 stores in over 40 countries, up from around 1,000 in 30 countries two years ago.
Decathlon's affordability and focus on customer experience have helped fuel its growth, said Ms Esther Ho, deputy director at Nanyang Polytechnic's School of Business Management.
"Focusing on the experience is the direction for most retail stores today, especially for sports retail where there is a lot of technical expertise that needs to be transferred to customers," she said.
"Health and wellness is a growing segment in Singapore as well so the potential for Decathlon is very big. Using Singapore as a base, they can branch out this new concept into the region too."