The sports trade is fluid and changing at a fast pace.
And making sure that Intersport is ahead of the game is UK general manager Tom Foley.
The sports retailer held their Q2 2017 trade show at Cranmore Park, Solihull, and Foley laid out his views on how their business had to engage with the community, present a consistent face to their customers, relieve the pressure on their retailers and be more efficient and data driven.
How are Intersport and its retailers looking to shape their business going forward?
I think you have to start with the consumer and work back from there.
We have to create a consistent brand message, through how a store looks, our marketing activity and the ranges that we carry.
We then have to look at how our relationship with our suppliers evolves.
We are becoming more data dependent and we’re using it better with the aim of making sure what we are buying is more efficient, with a higher stock turn, a higher realised margin and a lower stock cover.
The historical supplier way of doing business of just selling product and offering discount to create an incentive to buy is no longer enough.
We need to work closer, with suppliers taking more responsibility for how their product performs for us at retail and the results they deliver.
How do you look to boost business and increase the number of retailers in the industry?
It’s absolutely critical for the health of the sporting goods market that retailers become more profitable.
If that happens we open more stores, we invest in existing ones which is mutually beneficial to both retailers and suppliers.
We all need to look at ways to encourage more young retailers to get into the trade and how existing retailers can expand and offer the quality of local, community-based sports retailing that is still considered under penetrated in the UK market.
How can Intersport maximise their relevance to customers?
We need to make sure the right products are sitting in the right stores so that they’re servicing the local community effectively.
We need to make sure that each store has the right size of range based on their category requirements by location.
What are Intersport’s strengths in the marketplace?
As independent retailers the one advantage we have is that we are community based and connected with the localities sporting requirements.
We operate globally but act locally and that’s the uniqueness of Intersport.
We have over 5,500 affiliated stores globally and £11 billion in turnover.
It’s a big business but, at the end of the day, a lot of what we do is delivered at a local level with retailers serving their local communities and that’s a really good blend.
How can Intersport help their retailers engage with their customers?
We will take more of the analysis and back office work away from our retailers so they can focus fully on servicing the consumer.
We need to try and free up time for them to be involved in more community activities.
And that’s very much what we are doing currently with our investment in integrated systems.
How will the industry change in the years ahead?
I expect there to be further consolidation across the marketplace.
Retailers will need to be more scientific than in the past and will need to have a sharper positioning.
The “us versus them” type of supplier/retailer relationship will need to change and fundamentally profitability will need to improve.
Our own shows will evolve also. As requested by our stores we will fine tune ranges before shows, reduce the amount of brands and product on show to alleviate the complexity and workload undertaken by our retailers every quarter.
Digital will continue to play an ever increasing role and we will need to be adaptable and flexible to respond.
How do you see Intersport’s position in the marketplace?
We and our suppliers are interdependent. They need us, we need them. Leading primarily with product that services those who participate in sports we are not experiencing the highs that sports fashion retailers currently enjoy, but by the same token we do not suffer the same, inevitable, lows that trend retailers are exposed to.
Our business is much more consistent, stable and dependable.
This is important to highlight.
We have been selling product from all the major sporting categories for many years and I expect this to remain the case as we continue to grow in a steady and sustainable way.