Decathlon chairman Matthieu Leclercq steps down

French sport retailer Decathlon enjoyed a record year sales-wise in 2017, but the group is now reportedly going through a troubled phase. French media are describing it as “an ongoing crisis,” albeit one which has been kept under wraps until now. As a result, Decathlon’s chairman of the board of directors, Matthieu Leclercq - son of Decathlon’s founder - has decided to step down from his role. Today, Decathlon’s senior management confirmed the news to FashionNetwork.com, without providing any further detail.


Decathlon returned to the US market in 2017 - Decathlon

Matthieu Leclercq reportedly announced his intention of not seeking a reappointment in a letter addressed to the sport retailer’s top management, and then left the group last week. “In the last 18 months, I was not free to choose my board members and, after [the group’s] negative performance earlier this year, the relationship with our stakeholders’ representatives deteriorated,” stated Leclercq, according to French weekly magazine Challenges.

Matthieu Leclercq, 49, has been the chairman of Decathlon since 2012. He referred to the difficulties encountered earlier this year by Decathlon, owned by the Mulliez family, despite the fact that the group posted an 11% sales increase in 2017, reaching €11 billion. According to Challenges, the factors that weighed in the balance were Decathlon’s weak results on the French market, and the growth of the group’s own-brand business to the detriment of its sales of major brands like Adidas or Nike.

Decathlon increasingly based its success on internal product development, something which enabled the chain to keep prices down, and it continues to segment its own-brand range to respond to specific consumer needs, working as a genuine specialist. But this also means that some of sport’s leading names cannot find a place in Decathlon stores.

Geographically, the chain’s expansion abroad is clearly driving growth, with export revenue up 13.4% last year, reaching €7.6 billion. Decathlon currently operates 1,352 stores in 39 countries, and it grew in like-for-like terms by 4% outside France and by 1% on the domestic market. Of the 185 stores opened in 2017, 176 were opened outside France.

Translated by Nicola Mira

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