Decathlon wants to become big in Japan

Photo: frantic00 /

Decathlon has just opened its first store in Japan. The sports chain has been preparing this for years because there is much at stake.


Four years of preparation

From now on, Decathlon will also be running brick-and-mortar stores in Japan. The rollout across the nation has started with the opening of an initial outlet in Nisinomiya, a city between Kobe and Osaka. Decathlon has set up store in the Hankyu Nisinomiya Gardens shopping centre.

The store presents Decathlon's own brands such as Quechua, Domyos and Kalenji and contains rooms where people can try out sports items on the spot. Frenchman Eric Guinard is tasked with the management of the chain's activities in Japan.

Decathlon has been preparing for this store opening for a long time. Back in 2015, the chain first set foot in Japan with its own webshop, followed by a showroom in Osaka. The lab store, simply called Decathlon Lab, is smaller in size and mostly serves to allow customers to try out a limited range of items.


Second biggest market in the world

The long wait for the launch of the first physical store is due to the French retailer's ambitions to become big in Japan. The chain is willing to go to great lengths to achieve that goal because Japan is said to be the world's second biggest market in sports, after the United States. In 2017, the market turnover was about 11 billion euros. It goes without saying that there is also fierce competition there, including the locally well-known chain Victoria.

Meanwhile, Decathlon is active in more than 50 countries. The store opening in Japan comes barely a few months after the chain started in Korea. Last year, the sports retailer also took up activities in Kenya, Congo, Sri Lanka and Canada.