The growing competition in the Swedish sporting goods market does not seem to be hurting excessively Stadium, the biggest sporting goods retailer in the country, partly because of its unique positioning as a sports fashion retailer in the market rather than as a supplier of sports performance products. According to an executive of the company, Stadium plans to keep this positioning and to focus on its other strengths, such as the rather attractive layout of its stores and its strong reliance on competitively priced private label items, which represent about half of Stadium's turnover.

The executive stressed that Stadium gained market share in Sweden and continued to make an operating profit there during the financial year ended last Aug. 31. The most recent winter season has been rather short in Sweden, but without being specific, he said that the management was satisfied with the company's results for the first half of the current year, which continued to show a decent operating margin.

The annual report recently released by Stadium for the financial year ended last Aug. 31 shows relatively positive figures for the Swedish-based group in Sweden as well as in Finland, but not in Denmark. As reported in the last issue, Stadium closed three stores in that country last year, but then it also opened a new one in Aalborg, ending up with nine Danish stores. Noting that Stadium has a stable position in Copenhagen, the executive blamed a difficult economic situation that has resulted in no retail growth in the Danish market over the last five years. 

The company ended the last financial year with a total turnover of 4,840 million Swedish kronor (€533.29m-$735.89), which was an increase of roughly 4.6 percent from the previous year. Sales went up in Sweden by 2.9 percent to SEK 3.85 billion (€424.21m-$585.37m). While they fell in Denmark by 8.8 percent to SEK 322 million (€35.48m-$48.96m), they rose in Finland by 25.1 percent to SEK 663 million (€73.05m-$100.80m).

The company's operating margin increased to 4.1 percent from 3.3 percent in 2012. The final result was a net profit of SEK 159 million (€17.5m-$24.2m), a 27.5 percent increase from the previous year.

Stadium's sales in Sweden declined slightly on a same-store basis, but this was compensated by the opening of two new stores and the ongoing progress of online retailing. Stadium has had a virtual shop in Sweden since 2007 and is now selling online also in Denmark and Finland. The executive declined to provide any figures for its internet sales, but said they were in line with the expansion of the Swedish online market, which has been estimated at 30 percent per year. Stadium is investing heavily in multi-channel retailing, giving customers also the possibility to return basic items at the stores.

Some of the more notable events for Stadium during 2013 include the opening of two new stores in Sweden, located in Stockholm and Malmö. There were also four more Stadium Outlet locations opened in the Swedish towns of Växjö, Motala, Gävle and Kristianstad. Furthermore, the company rented another 13,000-square-meter warehouse in Sweden.

Stadium remained the largest actor in the Swedish sporting goods market, employing a total of 1,784 people and operating 145 stores in Sweden, Denmark and Finland, an increase from 134 in 2012. In Sweden, there were 94 Stadium stores as well as 17 Stadium Outlet stores at the end of the financial year. There were 11 in Denmark and 20 in Finland.

As previously reported, Stadium has signed a lease for a first store in Germany, which is due to open next September. It will be supplied from its central distribution center in Norjopping. The Swedish retailer plans to open one or two more stores in Germany to test the market before rolling out its format in the country.