Decathlon is reportedly preparing to plant its blue flag in yet another country with the projected opening of a store in Dublin next year, and plans to open up to eight more in cities including Cork and Galway.

Publicized earlier this week, the plans come after the opening of an office in Sandyford and the launch of an Irish online store in October. Bastien Grandgeorge, who previously ran Decathlon in Singapore, was appointed as chief executive in Ireland in August.

The French retailer reportedly studied the Irish market a few years ago and almost made a move in 2008 but backed off due to the financial crisis, which caused particular turbulence in Ireland. The country is one of the few in Europe where Decathlon has yet to open stores.

Grandgeorge told The Irish Times that Decathlon is close to a deal for a store of 2,000 to 2,500 square meters on the outskirts of Dublin. The general manager was quoted as saying that the Irish stores would focus entirely on Decathlon's private labels, to avoid head-on competition with Lifestyle Sports and Sports Direct, among other sports retailers operating in Ireland. In the longer term, Decathlon's investments in Ireland could also include the launch of private label products for Gaelic sports. Decathlon is aiming for prices about 20 percent below its leading rivals, and children's clothing could be even cheaper than in other European countries, due to the zero VAT rate on this category in Ireland.

It was further reported earlier this week that Lifestyle Sports raised its sales by 9 percent to €101.2 million for the fiscal year to the end of September 2016, for which accounts have just been filed. Several Irish newspapers reported that the retailer owned by the Stafford family saw its after-tax profit soar by about 70 percent to nearly €6.4 million, as it apparently benefited from an improving Irish economy. The Irish Independent notes that the numbers include the retailer's online sales but exclude stores in Northern Ireland.