Intersport is continuing its fast, methodical expansion with the opening of nine new stores in Austria and the unveiling of three new Future Stores in the Berlin area. The Future Stores project marks the launch of a new sales concept by the German buying group, and the new locations will enable Intersport to test and demonstrate the viability of the approach for its future application on a national and international basis.

One of the new Future Stores is a flagship that opened a couple of week ago in the Alexa shopping center in central Berlin. Shortly before, Intersport opened two similar stores at Borsigturm in Berlin-Tegel and in the Stern-Center in nearby Potsdam. All three outlets were previously operated by Intersport Voswinkel, the chain controlled by Intersport Germany, but are now trading under the Intersport banner.

The three Future Stores feature a new design and customizable components for a future-oriented shopping experience such as displays, touch screens, holograms, “magic mirrors” and digital changing rooms. Customers can get information on the products on display through virtual-reality eyeglasses. The store concept has been developed by Schwitke & Partner. The floor space is divided into a “blue sales area” that features a relatively standardized product offer, purchased from suppliers on special conditions. A “red area” offers products adjusted to the regional environment.

Under this pilot project, the product ranges are put together and optimized based on the sell-out and customer data collected for each store. Intersport is also testing a new system of permanent product availability. The product range in each store is linked to the stock of an Intersport dealer in the Olympia section of Berlin via a “product carousel” that can be accessed from each store.

Intersport is aiming to overhaul its approach to create a modern retail organization. Two important steps in this direction were the previously reported relaunch of Intersport Germany's website last March and the establishment of a cooperative online platform for data analysis and customer relations management, which is now already being used by 60 retail members, acting as a type of online marketplace. The plan is to have 200 members on board by the end of 2018.

In Austria, meanwhile, Intersport members opened nine new stores in one day in late October and the voluntary group plans to add six more by the end of the year. Some of the newly opened stores are meant to deliver a special shopping experience by offering testing trails for mountaineering shoes or a small indoor climbing wall.

In the past four years, the retailers affiliated with Intersport Austria have invested €60 million in the opening of 30 new stores in the country. There are now over 280 Intersport stores in Austria with 3,600 employees. For the financial year ended this Sept. 30, Intersport Austria has reported an increase in sales of 16 percent, marking a third successive year of double-digit growth and recording over €500 million in retail sales across the country for the first time.

The newly opened stores include two in Vienna. The largest one is in Steyr, Upper Austria, which spans over 3,000 square meters of floor space. Another one in Saalfelden has a 1,300-square-meter shop floor. The stores still to be opened will be located in the Tyrol region of Austria. They will be mainly used as ski rental stations.