Global sports retailer Intersport springs into Australian market

Global sports retailer Intersport springs into Australian market

First it was the fashion giants Topshop, H&M and Uniqlo. Now it seems Australia is becoming a hot spot for global sports retailers.

Following the news of UK-based Sports Direct’s deal with local online shopping club Ozsale.com.au, Switzerland-based Intersport will this week officially launch in Australia.

The global retailer, which has around 5700 stores across 66 countries including popular footwear chain The Athlete’s Foot in the US, has chosen to enter the market through an existing retailer, with close to 40 stores under the Independent Sports banner to rebrand to Intersport over coming months under a license agreement.

Kevin O’Hanlon, previously chief executive of the Independent Sports group and now chief executive of Intersport Australia, told SmartCompany 32 stores have already been rebranded under the Intersport name, with another five stores to be completed by the first week of September.

The group of 37 stores turns over approximately $130 million each year.

There are another 22 stores in the Independent Spots group and O’Hanlon hopes those stores will convert to Intersport over coming months.

But the transition of the stores is just the first step in Intersport’s plans in Australia, with O’Hanlon saying the group hopes to have 50 stores operating within three years, growing to 100 stores in five years.

O’Hanlon says the Independent Sports group is now the franchisor for Intersport in Australia and he has already received a number of enquiries from other independent sports retailers about joining the group.

Intersport sells sportswear and equipment, including big name brands such as Nike and Adidas, as well as McKinley, Firefly and Energetics.

The private company is owned by 13 master franchisors in Europe and Canada and, according to Fairfax, recorded annual revenue of €10.3 billion ($A14.8b) in 2013.

O’Hanlon says brand recognition is “clearly the number one benefit” for the independent stores joining the Intersport group, as well as access to the Intersport global trading terms and its exclusive private label brands.

“It’s well known the sporting goods industry is being challenged and it will continue to be challenged,” he says.

“So trading under a common, global brand gives great solace to these mum-and-dad businesses.”

“It’s also been shown that consumers have a desire to buy from global brands.”

O’Hanlon says sport “is an essential pillar of Australian society”, and that’s attractive to global brands such as Intersport.

“We know that, we live that, we love that as Australians,” he says.

“We intend to offer that passion, the best advice, the best product selection in the world from the best brands, and deliver that on a local level.”

Brian Walker, chief executive of the Retail Doctor Group, told SmartCompany other sports retailers will be watching Intersport’s moves “with keen interest”.

“In terms of sports retailing in our country, the independent specialty, small retailer has really gone, and now it’s the days of the Rebel Sports and Amart,” says Walker.

“It’s good for consumers. It’s a global brand and it will introduce a more competitive flavour to the domestic market.”

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