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Decathlon Welcomes New CEO Despite Record-Breaking 2017

People & Careers

LILLE, France – It wasn’t related to results as Decathlon saw a record-breaking 11 billion euro in sales in 2017. But what actually caused the stepping down of Matthieu Leclercq as CEO – son of the founder of the world’s biggest sporting goods retailer (including bicycles), remains a much discussed mystery. French media are describing it as “an ongoing crisis”. Decathlon has appointed Fabien Derville as its new Chairman of the Board.

Decathlon Welcomes New CEO Despite Record-Breaking 2017
Cycling enthusiast Fabien Derville is appointed Chairman of Decathlon's Board of Directors. – Photo Decathlon

Aged 56, Fabien Derville will take office on December 4, 2018. He is appointed Chairman of Decathlon’s Board of Directors by the Mulliez and Leclercq families; the owners of Decathlon as well as the supermarket chains Auchan and E.Leclerc. Related to the Mulliez family (his mother is a cousin of Gérard Mulliez, founder of Auchan), Fabien Derville is the son of Eric Derville, one of the greatest business tycoons of France and founder of Norauto; a car fitting chain with outlets in France and Spain.

Omni-channel is a revolution to which no one escapes

Beginnings at Leroy Merlin

Holder of an MBA, Fabien Derville began his career as store manager at Leroy Merlin before he moves through the ranks of Norauto as well as the Mobivia Groupe where he joined the general management in April 2010. He is a cycling enthusiast, who knows very well the Decathlon business as he has been a member of the company’s council under the chairmanship of Michel Leclercq.

1,500 Decathlon stores

Currently Decathlon store count stands at some 1,500 outlets. Last September the company acquired Swiss sports store chain Athleticum adding 21 locations to its store count in Switzerland bringing the total to 23. A likewise rapid expansion is now announced by the world’s biggest sporting goods retailer for Germany. It fits Decathlon’s omnichannel market approach of a 100% online product availability offering customers the possibility to order online and collect the order at a nearby store.
In 2017 the sporting goods retailer opened 185 new stores bringing the total to 1,352 outlets in 39 countries. As said, Decathlon’s 2017 turnover stood at over 11 billion euro. The in Lille, France based sporting goods retailer is Europe’s biggest bicycle seller with an estimated annual sales of over 4 million (electric) bikes in Europe.

Slowly growing online sales

Decathlon’s online sales is still minor. At least that was it in 2017. Deputy Chief Executive Officer, François De Witte said then “Although the share of internet sales is still low for us at 4.5% in 2017 (4.1% in 2016), omni-channel is a revolution to which no one escapes. Market research also shows that one in five customers said they had not found the product they were looking for in stores without checking it online first.”

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