Europe’s largest sports retailer Decathlon is lucky to have a sharply defined USP – unbridled passion for sport. Love of all things fitness and sport is at its core whether the company is recruiting and engaging its vast workforce, or connecting with customers around the world.
This makes setting out its values and purpose simple and highly effective, and helps with employee engagement. Pretty much everyone who works at Decathlon is also involved in some kind of sport, and indeed a key store role is ‘sport leader’ as opposed to sales assistant. Reaching out to the community to get involved in local sport is encouraged, as is instigating new ways to build business. Love of the product, the stores, and the company ethos is what gives Decathlon employees the impetus to do their best.
Sport leaders run the show
Speaking at the Retail Bulletin’s Customer Engagement Conference in June 2019, Charles Henri Duclos, Decathlon’s Digital & Store Concept Coordinator did an excellent job of demonstrating how engaged employees can drive innovations and improvements in the business because they enjoy what they do, feel valued and are empowered in their day to day work.
This video sets the tone for Decathlon’s purpose – ‘to make sports accessible to the many’ – and gives a sense of the value of employees ‘doing what I love’.
Stores offer unique services
Giant stores such as the Surrey Quays flagship Decathlon (which opened in June 2018) boasts ‘testing zones’, including the kids bike testing area, mini aquarium, golf simulator, climbing wall, mini badminton court and table tennis stations. You can even try out a kayak on Canada Water at the site, as was demonstrated at the launch. Employees are encouraged to forge links with local teams, schools and charities.
Technology is in the squad
Duclos spoke of the value of recruiting and retaining a talented group of people that reflect your customer base. He said that while technology is being used by Decathlon in the form of self-checkout “to increase efficiency” there is acceptance from the top of the organisation that consumers shopping for the best-fitting rugby boots or hardiest kayak, still need human interaction in the form of expert advice and assistance. “Our customers must be at the centre of everything we do, but our employees will always be vital to delivering an amazing experience in the stores.”
With all this raw vitality and enthusiasm running through its veins, perhaps it’s not surprising that for both 2017 and 2018, Decathlon was ranked the #1 Great Place to Work in France.
The Retail Bulletin’s 10th annual Customer Engagement Conference took place on 5 June 2019, at the Cavendish Conference Centre, London