Decathlon is a sporting goods and equipment conglomerate that develops its own brands to specialize in different sporting and apparel areas. It is a worldwide phenomenon that is growing in popularity because it offers all a sports lover needs in one shop – and online!

What is Decathlon?

Decathlon was founded by Michel Leclerq in 1976 with a store in Lille, France that sold sporting goods. About 10 years later, Leclerq began to expand abroad. He expanded to many countries including Germany, China, South Africa, and Australia. Currently, Decathlon employs over 87,000 people from all around the world.

The unique thing about Decathlon is that it is not a single brand – it owns over 20 brands, and it offers an incredibly wide range of sporting goods. Decathlon owns research and development facilities all over France, and these facilities consistently design, test, and develop the best sporting goods equipment available. On average, they register 40 patents a year. The Decathlon brands all represent and cater to different sports and typically all have dedicated products for their categories.

Where is Decathlon?

Decathlon is truly everywhere! There are locations all over the globe, and there is online delivery available to even more places. The first North American Decathlon store was built in Quebec in 2018. In the same year, there was a small “test store” opened in the United States to see how well Decathlon would be received. The first full-scale Decathlon store in the United States is slated to open in San Francisco, California this year (2019). 

Decathlon Brands and Products

This company has developed many brands that specialize in different areas; it calls its brands passion brands. The different brands each focus on their own sports and cater to the needs of only that sport.

Some of the brands that Decathlon produces and their sports focus are: Aptonia for nutrition and healthcare, Forclaz for trekking, Geonaute for sports electronics, Kalenji for running, Newfeel for sport walking, Outshock for combat sports, Rockrider for mountain biking, Tarmak for basketball, and Tribord for watersports. These are just a few of the over 20 brands that make up Decathlon.

Additionally, there are brands that focus on providing the apparel for the sports that the other brands focus on. These apparel and technical support brands are:

  • Equarea – clothing designed to absorb sweat
  • Essensole – shoe soles and insoles
  • Novadry – waterproof and breathable clothing
  • Stratermic – warm and light clothes
  • Strenfit – non-garment synthetic fabrics
  • Supportiv – support and compression

Reputation and Competition

Decathlon has enjoyed a pretty positive reputation throughout its growth. The company follows a strict policy that makes sure that its workers are protected and provided safe and fair treatment. They follow the Human Responsibility in Production process that makes sure the management system provides a suitable workplace environment.

In 2003, Decathlon adopted the social charter of the Social and Environmental Responsibility World Forum that promotes the ideals of human rights, health, and safety and also demands respect for the environment. It prohibits corruption, especially in management, and promotes proper communication. This charter helps to keep Decathlon honest by making it pay attention to both its work ethics and the environment around it.

While Decathlon is a very respectable company, there was a scandal that involved an accusation that the company’s suppliers violated labor laws because Decathlon refused to release the names of its suppliers.With a decline of individual retailers in France, Decathlon has been able to corner the market on sporting goods in the country. Because the company offers so many sporting goods equipment in one spot, it has gained popularity in the sporting goods world as being a one-stop-shop for equipment and apparel. In 2008, a survey by the Ministry of Economy and Finance showed that “for sporting goods, Decathlon is dominant in 92.8% of zones.”