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(LEAD) Decathlon to launch first Korean store this week

2018/09/12 14:56

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(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with CEO's comments; ADDS photo)

By Choi Soo-hyang

INCHEON, Sept. 12 (Yonhap) -- France's sports retailer Decathlon said Wednesday it will open its first Korean store near Seoul next week amid a growing popularity of sportswear products in the Northeast Asian country.

The 7,800-square-meter outlet, located in Songdo, west of Seoul, will open Saturday, along with its Korean online mall, it said.

"Songdo is a sports city. There are many parks where we can run, walk and we have many families living here too. It's exactly what we wanted," Decathlon Korea CEO Stephane Guy said in a press conference at the store.

The store, selling around 4,000 items under 45 sports categories, provides community spaces and test zones at each sport section.

This photo, taken Sept. 12, 2018, shows Decathlon Korea's first offline store set to open in Songdo, west of Seoul, on Sept. 15. (Yonhap) This photo, taken Sept. 12, 2018, shows Decathlon Korea's first offline store set to open in Songdo, west of Seoul, on Sept. 15. (Yonhap)

Decathlon plans to expand the number of stores in South Korea to five in two years and to 49 by 2028, developing the country into its core market in Asia.

"Many sites are under negotiation," Guy said on the company's plan to open a store in the capital city of Seoul, though he said nothing has been decided in detail yet.

"We wish to go further by launching our own research and development team here in Korea, because we believe that Korean sports users are one of the most demanding in the world," Guy said.

Established in France in 1976, Decathlon currently has 1,415 stores in 47 countries, including South Korea, with some 85,000 employees. In fiscal year 2017, the company's sales came to 11 billion euros (US$12.75 billion).

The market size for sports fashion in South Korea is estimated to have tripled from 500 billion won ($444 million) in 2009 to 1.5 trillion won in 2016 and is expected to surpass the 2 trillion-won mark this year, according to industry data.

This undated photo, provided by Decathlon Korea, shows its employees playing basketball at its first Korean store in Incheon, west of Seoul. The store will open to the public on Sept. 15, 2018. (Yonhap) This undated photo, provided by Decathlon Korea, shows its employees playing basketball at its first Korean store in Incheon, west of Seoul. The store will open to the public on Sept. 15, 2018. (Yonhap)

scaaet@yna.co.kr

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