Decathlon Sports India, a 1000 stores challenge!
My first articles have been focused on my life in India. You already know what do I think about he country, people, what I like to do during me free time.
But you don’t know why have I been hired in Bangalore. In this first article, you will learn more about the company in itself. You will understand the context and give you a clear picture before I introduce you into my mission next month with another article.
Decathlon Sports India opened its first store in Bangalore 3 years back. The company was already implanted in India for the production and for sells in B-to-B but it took time to get the authorization to open stores.
I already mentioned that in my last article but the foreign companies who want to open stores in India have to create a partnership with a local company. Of course, it’s not always easy as you loose freedom in the way you want to manage it.
Decathlon is unique. They didn’t have to create this partnership. It took time for Michel Aballea (new CEO of Decathlon worldwide) and his team to develop the business and find the solution. But it’s now happening!
Decathlon sports India has been created with commitments to the Indian government. For example, 35% of the products sold in India have to be manufactured in the country.These commitments are constraints but also a good way for India to keep advantages of allowing multinationals on its territory.
It’s not only about retail but also about production, logistics. All the supply chain is there in India from A to Z.
How does it work?
Decathlon has different offices all over India, mainly to allow production teams to work close to their suppliers, as India is a huge country.
Steve Dykes is CEO of Decathlon India. For North; West; East and South, a regional manager is allocated. Then there are city managers, etc. etc.
I work in Bangalore in the main office. It’s a big open space where finance, retail, production, logistics work together. Even if the space is important, it’s the mess. With the growth, so many people have been hired that we have a lack of space. It’s interesting to work in such a layout but it’s also tiring as it’s very noisy and agitated.
Fortunately, the office will soon move into a new place where they build a new concept store with more space for everyone to work in a good environment.
Unfortunately, it will open one month after my leave.
I would say that in most of the companies, people see the work in office much more valuable than in store. That is not what happens in India with Decathlon. The work in Store is an obligatory step to grow in the company and they are all waiting to have the opportunity to be a store manager. Everyone is impatient in the office to have his chance in store.
In the same time, young Indians receive a lot of pressure from their families. The title of the job is very important, along with the salary. Decathlon is well positioned for that as most of the titles receive “manager” at the end (sales manager, department manager, project manager).
Decathlon earned experience by developing stores in countries all over the world. I thought it would have been easy to train people and define all the processes. It’s not. As I see it, it’s mostly due to the ambition of the company, which wants to grow fast and does not take enough time to build the frame clearly for everyone.
I also told you in my previous article that in Bangalore, people come from all over India. The office of Decathlon is the perfect reflect of this reality.
The office is a mix of culture where everyone shares his experience, and brings his added value to the company and to the global state of mind.
People are always ready to participate to different events created within the company. Even if people work with their team by department, there is a good communication.
The Indian culture also helps to develop this spirit within the office or the stores.
For example, every time there is a birthday in the office, a cake is brought and everybody takes a part of it, not to eat but to put in the face of the people concerned by the birthday. With more than 250 people in the office, it makes a lot of cakes, a lot of fun!
There is still this spirit of “pioneer” in the teams. The company is young in India and we always discover new challenges, new steps. It’s not only making the machine working. It’s much more than that.
If the machine has started, everything is still remaining to do. And I can feel this spirit! With the 1000 employee hired, they brought a huge cake, organized a dance in the office etc.
I also had the opportunity to participate to the supply meetings with Directors from France. It was an amazing chance for me to see that they are still defining all the processes. Nothing is fixed.
If I will have to remember the office in few years, I will for sure think about all this people who help me in my everyday job, with whom I have a lot of discussions on differences between France and India and of course with whom I like to go for a trek, for a football match or anything else.
My co-workers also became some very good friends!
Directors of India are mainly French. They arrived few years back with the values of Decathlon to develop the business.
If we only have 20 stores as of today, the objective is very high with 1000 stores in 2040.
It looks difficult, but I always think about this sentence “They did it, because they didn’t know it was impossible”. Let’s see in few years what is the situation.
Decathlon India is also a pilot for a lot a project that will be duplicate worldwide, like my project of direct deliveries.
But to learn more about that, kindly check in one month my new article.
To share with you more and more, I would like to tell you where do I write my articles.
I unlocked the door of building’s rooftop. I then organized a little place from where I watch eagles fighting in the sky of Bangalore (and sometimes attacking me), also parrots. Every time I can, I go there to watch the sun disappear into the skyscrapers of the city. I observe the cows relaxing into the insane traffic. It’s my “secret garden” where I can be alone, a precious thing in India.
It’s not fantastic, but these are probably the moments that I will miss the most.
I still have 3 months to accumulate more and more good times, which will become good memories through the time.
I hope my articles are sincere enough to share with you this wonderful experience that I live.