Born in 2010 and based in the Southern French city of Montpellier, Private Sport Shop (PSS) claims to have become the only leading destination in Europe for flash sales of discounted performance-oriented sports products, contributing the bulk of an online turnover that grew by about 20 percent to around €100 million in 2018.

 

Working with about 1,500 brands each year, PSS constantly offers some 12,000 products in 100 sports categories on its website, addressing customers in four languages.

PSS boasts more than eight million members who get between 10 and 15 new offers for flash sales every day. About three-quarters of them are French. The others are located for the most part in Spain, Italy and the U.K. PSS also boasts 1.2 million Facebook fans.

After acquiring a majority stake in the profitable French company, Bridgepoint Development Capital appointed two experienced French professionals, Olivier Cantet and Yannick Leouffre, to run PSS and to take it to the next level.

One of the goals set by Bridgepoint is to double PSS' total turnover over the next five years, notably by boosting its international presence. PSS' staff in France have eight nationalities among them, and the new management is recruiting additional personnel in Italy and Spain.

Cantet, 53, is well-known in the sporting goods sector as a former managing director of the Lafuma Group, as European and global chief executive of Rip Curl and CEO of Oakley Europe. Before his appointment as group CEO of PSS, which became effective on Jan. 1, he spent a couple of years as managing director of Jules, a chain of 500 fast-fashion menswear stores that belongs to the Mulliez Group.

Leouffre joined PSS simultaneously as the company's new managing director after working for the online sales operations of Fnac, Amazon and Go Sport. He launched and ran Amazon's sports and outdoor division in Spain. Most recently, he led Go Sport's e-commerce operations and its digital transformation.

The two managers have gradually taken the place of PSS' two founders, Benoit Durand and Guillaume Bertel, who will continue as minority shareholders along with another investment fund that supported them in the early days. Durand is a young entrepreneur who previously launched websites in the area of tourism. Bertel worked formerly as French sales manager of New Balance.

Taking its inspiration from more fashion-oriented flash sale specialists like another French company, Vente Privée, but with a focus on technical sports performance, PSS says that it enables sports brands to clear their excess inventories with a minimal impact on the market, targeting the right audience. It can organize flash sales of any products at any time in any specific countries following each brand's requirements, paying the brand only for what it sells and taking a margin on it.

Typically, each week, about 100 brands, covering 100 different sport segments, offer between 20 and 300 “end of line” items for sale on PSS for a limited number of days at discounts ranging from 40 to 60 percent. It's a particularly interesting stock clearance method for companies that don't have their own factory outlet stores and that don't want to use their own online stores for this purpose. It remains fully under the control of each brand. 

Taking advantage of the strong traffic on its website, with an average of six million visits per month, PSS launched in 2016 a complementary offer of products sold at full price early in the season, called “le Shop” and featuring brands like La Sportiva, Mammut, Mizuno, Patagonia and The North Face. It has already started to place pre-orders for the next autumn/winter season, using the same mark-ups as any other retailer.

This part of PSS' business is still relatively small, but it has been growing faster than its flash sales, particularly in the areas of outdoor, skiwear and running sports and electronic devices. The permanent catalog of the Shop allows PSS to provide a more comprehensive range of products in all categories that the customer can choose from at all times. The products that are not sold at full price are offered later at a discount on the same website.

The unique combination of the off-price store and the full-price store is conducive to cross-selling and to high conversion rates, ending up with an average basket of close to €100 per transaction.