Sports retail giant Decathlon has plans to open two more stores in Ireland and "expand in Limerick, Cork or Galway as a priority in the coming years".
That is according to a directors' report in new accounts, which show Irish revenues at Decathlon Sports Ireland Ltd declined by seven per cent from €17.8 million to €16.58 million last year.
The retailer opened its first Irish store at Ballymun, Dublin in June 2020 after a €13 million investment as the country emerged from the first Covid-19 lockdown.
In May 2021, the store was boasting the highest sales of surfboards in the world in any of Decathlon’s 1,750 stores.
The chief executive of Decathlon Ireland, Bastien Grandgeorge, said on Friday the flagship Irish store in Ballymun is "outperforming our expectations since its opening in June 2020 and will be for sure within the best performing store overall in the group on a 12-month trend”.
Mr Grandgeorge said the Ballymun store's opening performance "was Decathlon's best-ever new country opening" in terms of sales and visitors to a new store.
He said: “The online activity has been also boosted by the change of habits of purchase from sporty people during the pandemic and is growing multiple digit.
Mr Grandgeorge added the firm is now actively recruiting for more than 40 posts, including 20 managerial roles in retail and finance.
He added: "That confirms the great potential of this country in the sport practice, and so our will to continue to invest massively to develop our local presence, for stores and online."
According to the directors’ report attached to the accounts, despite the economic impact of the pandemic, Decathlon Ireland “has seen its market share grow in the Republic of Ireland as a result of the success of the online activity”.
Decathlon launched its online sales here in 2015 and the directors state the success of online business “has helped to establish confidence in relation to the success of this group in this country, when restrictions are lifted”.
The directors state that as a consequence of the pandemic, revenues declined by seven per cent.
The report states: “Facing the crisis, the company engaged in actions to control the level of margin of its activity and also reduce its cost base”.
The directors said, as a result, the level of profit increased.
Since June 2018, Decathlon Ireland Sports Ltd also acts as the supply centre for its European activities. The company’s revenues for last year totalled €5.52 billion — a decrease of seven per cent on the €59 billion for 2019. However, the company’s pre-tax profits last year increased 22.6 per cent to €53.3 million.
A breakdown of revenues shows €5.25 billion was generated in Europe, €299.7 million in ‘rest of world’ and €16.58 million in Ireland. The company paid out a dividend of €37.95 million.
The numbers of people employed last year also more than tripled from 34 to 103, leading staff costs to increase by 139 per cent to €3.8 million.
The directors also noted that due to Covid-19 restrictions since last December, Decathlon’s Irish store was only partially open for essential goods.
They state this resulted in five months of effective closure in 2021, while stores in Europe have also been hit by closures. The directors said this will impact on revenues for 2021.