After studying the local market conditions, XXL ASA will soon launch its big-box, low-cost format on the Austrian market. The group says it has already signed its first two leases in the country, with a view to open at least one store at the end of 2017.

XXL said that Austria is an attractive market because it has four distinctive seasons, brand- and service-minded customers, and a competitive landscape that is similar to the Nordic markets, where it has obtained the leadership in only a few years.

XXL has been surveying the whole alpine region, considering alsothat its Nordic roots make it suitable for the cold climate that dominates countries like Austria and Switzerland. After entering Finland with its physical stores, the choice of Austria as its next target seems quite logical in the view of the weakened position of the former Sport Eybl & Sports Experts after its acquisition by Sports Direct International.

For the same reason, Intersport has opened up nearly 15,000 additional square meters of retail space in Austria through its affiliated retail members so far this year. In the last few days they opened two new flagship stores in the Vösendorf and Stadlau areas of Vienna, each with 3,000 sqm., and a 2,500-sqm. store in a shopping center near Innsbruck.

Like XXL, Stadium, the leading Swedish sporting goods retailer, has also gone south with a store in Hamburg, which is due to be followed by others in Germany.

Meanwhile, XXL has confirmed the arrival of a new external shareholder. John Fredriksen, who is described in the Norwegian press as one of the wealthiest investors in the country, now has 0.73 percent of the shares.

A co-founder of XXL, Øyvind Tidemandsen, remains the largest shareholder through an investment vehicle called Dolphin Management with a stake of 24.19 percent. The other major shareholders are all present or former managers of the company, led by its chief executive, Fredrik Steenbuch, who holds 2.37 percent of the shares through a company called Stamina.