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TIME TO PLAY: Inside and outside the Decathlon Store. Photo: Special Arrangement

TIME TO PLAY: Inside and outside the Decathlon Store. Photo: Special Arrangement  

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Offering a wide range of sports equipment, Decathlon has become the one stop shop for the Madurai’s sports lovers.

Decathlon, the French large-format sports-store has opened its doors to the temple city, with its third outlet in the State. Barely five months old, the 20,000 sq.ft store at Uthangudi has become the numero uno place for all sports needs. With hundreds of products for over 50 sports and indoor games, Decathlon attracts anyone from kids to adults.

Inside the colossal store, one can smell the passion for sports among the shoppers. “The very idea of Decathlon is to introduce an active lifestyle among people and encourage them to take up some kind of sports,” says Harish Praveen Kumar, the store manager. The brand offers every possible accessory related to a particular sport, across all segments, thus making the customers become part of the sports subculture, he says. “For instance, for niche sports like surfing or paragliding, we offer not just the equipment, but also the sunglasses, the sportswear and other accessories needed to make the complete look and ensemble of a surfer.”

The USP of Decathlon is the experience it offers to customers. The store contains a skating ring, a basketball court, a tennis court, a cricket pitch, volley ball court and a multipurpose playground for people to try out the products. The products are innovative, says Nikhilan, a third grade student who is a school champion in skating. “This is the only place which has skating shoes that can be converted to a single line of four wheels from double line. The shoes come with a tool kit to change the wheels.” Some of the sports Decathlon offers products and services for are, trekking, running, cycling, fitness, cricket, football, hockey, badminton, skating, fishing, target sports such as archery, dart boards and shooting, indoor games like carom boards, chess, table tennis and niche sports like Golf, swimming, surfing, horse riding, race biking and other adventure sports.

The products are available under three categories suitable for entry level players, intermediates and the professionals. The price range varies accordingly, adds Harish. “In Madurai, the store gets an average footfall of 200 on weekdays and 500 on weekends. We have launched clubs for various sports and there are kids and adults who take regular classes and practice with us. In future, we also plan to let out the space for tournaments and we will conduct events to encourage local talent in sports.” “Last month, we held a Gully cricket contest which saw 50 participants. A major chunk of our customers are between 20 and 30 years age.”

Decathlon’s range of racing cycles/bikes has really caught on among adventure cyclists. “We have sold three pairs of cycles costing Rs.1,00,000 each, so far. Apart from city people, we also get customers from other southern districts,” says Harish.

“In south Tamil Nadu, this is the only store where you can get half-a-dozen varieties of hiking jackets, tents and camping equipment,” says Ramachandran, a trekking enthusiast and a race biker from Sivakasi.

“We are a group of road bikers and organize racing events every two months. The opening of Decathlon in Madurai has come handy for us. We need not go to Bangalore or Chennai to buy the cycles anymore.” The store has a cycle station that provides exclusive services and repair for the high end cycles. There’s customization, styling and other mechanic services offered.

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Printable version | Dec 15, 2019 10:12:12 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/get-sporty/article8188369.ece

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