Intersport's strategy to reposition itself from a multi-category retailer to a more modern “multi-specialty” retailer is rapidly taking shape, as more than a dozen Intersport stores in Europe and China have adopted the international buying and franchising group's upgraded store concept, while its international integrated online platform has gone live in Denmark and the Netherlands (see story in this issue).

Referred to as Intersport 2.0, the strategy was outlined by Victor Duran, chief executive of Intersport International Corporation (IIC), and several other Intersport executives at a meeting with suppliers a few days ago in The Hague. Duran, a former Amer Sports executive who switched to IIC at the beginning of this year, stated that the group is building on the strength of the Intersport brand to turn into a dynamic and innovative sports specialist, with fully integrated offline and online operations.

Intersport's updated store concept is designed with a new form of hybrid zoning that splits the product range by categories and gender. Among other things, it was conceived to appeal more strongly to female consumers. Intersport recommends that its affiliated retailers should reserve about 40 percent of the space for women's products, offering dedicated changing rooms and sales staff, in categories like running, training, yoga, outdoor and sport style. Young consumers are another crucial target group for the upgraded stores, which use plenty of digital and experiential tools.

The concept is designed to be scalable so it can be adjusted to stores of various sizes. In general, the assortment presented in the stores should include fewer brands than before and cover a reduced number of categories, using a digital aisle that can be accessed through in-store digital kiosks to complement the ranges on display. At the same time, the stores are supposed to use more spectacular displays, with more depth and service for the technical offerings. The idea is that the stores should be at or above the level of a single-sport specialist in a small number of categories, such as running or football.

The new store design comes with a slightly adjusted version of Intersport's 40-year-old logo. The second half of the word Intersport, which was previously written in a bold blue font, has been thinned to the same size as the first half. The blue wave and red dot in front have been tweaked to appear more dynamic.

The concept has been adopted in European cities such as Athens, Eindhoven, Copenhagen, Berlin and Dublin, as well as in the Chinese city of Wenzhou. IIC's franchising partners in the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Ireland, Greece and China have all endorsed the international program, and they are piloting its implementation with independent retailers as well as directly owned and operated stores. The concept was developed in partnership with stores in Austria, where the first Intersport stores with the latest retail tools and lay-out should be ready early next year.

IIC says that the related implementation costs are going to be amortized more rapidly than the investments previously made by Intersport retail members for the renovation of their own stores. The resulting improved performance is expected to allow retailers to renovate their operations with tangible results in five years' time instead of the seven-year interval that has been the norm up to now.

We already reported in our Oct. 31 issue about the three new Future Stores of Intersport recently opened in Berlin, which use sophisticated merchandising techniques, digital kiosks and data analytics. Another store in The Hague, Intersport Twinsport, was one of the first adopters of the rejuvenated store concept, which has been in operation since the last week of October. The 1,800 square-meter store, located in a central shopping street of the Dutch city, was entirely refurbished, with a spacious layout and stylish white furnishings. It has picked running, football and sport style as its three focus areas. The specialty units include a running center with 3D scanning and a full-fledged football experience center where customers can try out their boots by attempting to score in the atmosphere of a packed stadium.

The sport style sections for men and women at the entrance of the store fit in with Intersport's strategy to have a more directional approach in this category. About 15 to 20 percent of retail sales at Intersport are currently derived from athleisure, but the international retail organization wants to improve the quality of the products in this category, to make sure they are at least inspired by sport instead of just leisurewear.

Another early adopter was a store of just over 1,000 square meters in Eindhoven, which switched to the new concept in August. This has apparently led to a significant rise in the average shopping basket, which was attributed to much-improved visual merchandising. Another clear change has been that the Eindhoven store has started attracting many more women and youngsters. A third Dutch store will implement the concept on a surface of only about 550 square meters, which will help to work out ways to scale it down in a productive manner.

IIC expects that 30 Intersport stores in various countries will have been converted to the new design by the end of this year, and the group is hoping that 100 to 200 more will be revamped in the course of 2018. The long-term target is that it will be taken up by about 40 percent of Intersport's 3,760 franchised stores around the world, generating 80 percent of the group's total retail turnover.