After 16 new store openings in 2019, Decathlon Germany ended a very successful year with a total of 80 doors, compared with only 26 at the end of 2015. More or less until 2010, the French retailer had a tough time in the market, due in part to its disruptive low-priced format and intense adverse lobbying by traditional retailers with the local urban planning authorities.

We underestimated the size attained by Decathlon in Germany in publishing our annual European retail charts on Oct. 18. Decathlon said it reached a turnover of €528 million in the country in 2018, building the chain into the largest integrated sporting goods retailer in Germany after steady progress in the previous three years. At €259 million, its sales were less than half as high in 2015. They subsequently grew to €333 million in 2016 and €435 million in 2017, in tune with the expansion of its store network and its online sales.

With Decathlon’s reported medium-term objective of 130 to 150 stores, this year will see around 10 further store openings in Germany, with locations already confirmed in Hamburg-Langenhorn, Fulda and Erding as well as Weiterstadt near Darmstadt. This last one will be a 7,500-square-meter unit, the company’s largest in the country.

Steady growth in the number of retail outlets has made the expansion of Decathlon’s logistics operations inevitable. The company has chosen to locate its third German distribution center in Berlin because it already has a strong presence in the German capital, operating eight stores there, and needs to meet the requirements of other branches in northern and eastern Germany.

In keeping with its business model, Decathlon’s stores carry no inventories, but the company says it wants to guarantee fast delivery processes and flexible adjustments with reliable, self-organized logistics in order not to lose the necessary proximity with the customer. Its two other existing German distribution centers are located in Dortmund and Schwetzingen.

Construction will start this spring on a total of 45,000 square meters of warehousing and office space in the new VGP Park Berlin in Ludwigsfelde, a city to the south of Berlin in the district of Teltow-Fläming, in the industrial area of Brandenburg Park. In phase one, 30,000 sqm will be built for stocking the merchandise and 5,000 sqm for offices, social rooms and service centers. In phase two, another 10,000 sqm warehouse will be completed. The new logistics center in Berlin plans to start with a team of about 300 employees in the first year.