The leading Russian sporting goods retailer, Sportmaster, has completely stopped operating in China, says Ilya Titarenko, distribution director of the comany, in discussing with us the company’s expansion outside its core market in the former Soviet Union, including Uzbekistan most recently.

Back in 2014, Sportmaster opened seven stores in the northern part of China, a region where the climate is similar to many areas in which it has a presence. The company announced plans at the time to open 300 stores in the following five years, provided it would be able to find the right formula for the local market.

Meanwhile, the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the former stores of Go Sport in Poland, which Sportmaster acquired last year. “Poland is currently not in the best shape – everything is shut tightly. We look forward to retail to re-open once the pandemic’s peak is passed,” said Titarenko.

On the other hand, Sportmaster is doing much better in Denmark, where the retail company by the same name is expected to turn around, thanks in part to the strength of its e-commerce platform. The Danish chain, which has the same name as the Russian one by coincidence, became formally its property at the beginning of this year.

The Russian sports retailer completed the acquisition of Go Sport Polska with its 34 stores in September 2019. A few weeks later, on Dec. 23, it took over Sport Danmark with its 89 Sportmaster stores and seven Rezet sneaker shops, and appointed a new manager in February.

Titarenko told us earlier that his company wants to consolidate the Danish business before eventually expanding to other parts of Europe.

In Russia, Sportmaster is also shaping up its business to operate better in the pandemic environment, transforming it rapidly and effectively into an omni-channel operation. Sales are flat on a same-store basis, Titarenko added, indicating that he expects a good start of the winter season.