Decathlon seeks to further expand its domestic component supply

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NEW DELHI : French sporting goods retailer Decathlon SA has decided to source 85% of its products sold in 103 stores in India from domestic suppliers by 2026, up from 60% previously, Deepak D’Souza said, production manager, Decathlon Sports India.

“During the covid crisis, we realized it was much more beneficial to have local sourcing in the country,” D’Souza said, as covid-induced lockdowns disrupted global supply chains, affecting the manufacture, distribution and transportation of goods.

With mobility restrictions impacting the supply of products and raw materials, retailers and manufacturers of goods have begun to strengthen local supply chains and production.

Decathlon has been sourcing from Indian suppliers, however, even for export since the late 1990s. It initially sourced textiles and riding gear, but has gradually diversified into other categories. She had also set up her own stores to meet the growing demand for sporting goods in India.

Around 70% of the textiles, 80% of the socks and 95% of the bicycles sold in its stores are made locally. It also sells hockey sticks, sleeping bags and cricket bats made in India, as well as 70% cricket clothing, as well as metal and plastic scooters for children, outdoor equipment, bottles, fitness bands, balls, nutritional products and accessories.

The company plans to manufacture more than 80% of the components used to assemble a Decathlon bike in India by 2025, apart from the tents sold in its stores.

D’Souza said that over the years India has developed the ability to manufacture more technical sporting goods and the quality of materials has also improved. Previously, it was limited to basic textiles and sporting goods, he said. “Now this presents a huge opportunity to diversify our product line by reducing manufacturing lead times in India. We are seeing many companies investing. The product lines are also diversifying beyond cotton. We are seeing a lot of technical clothing and of synthetic footwear produced in India,” he added.

“For many other products, such as plastics, metals, rubber, electronics, food nutrition as well, there are already many upstream supply chains. This gives us a huge opportunity to diversify our range of products,” D’Souza said.

Decathlon was granted a license to operate single-brand retail stores in India in 2013. Previously, it operated wholesale and business-to-business stores in cash-and-carry format. Today, the company operates full-size stores selling gym equipment and camping products, in addition to activewear and entertainment, and has four warehouses and 95 manufacturing partners.

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Richard V. Johnson