French sports retail giant Decathlon will open its doors to the public in Ireland for the first time on Saturday at 10.30am.
Having announced its intention to open several outlets in the Republic, the privately-owned company confirmed to The Irish Times that its Dublin outlet, based in Ballymun, will open this Saturday.
On the 17,000 sq m site, which was previously an overflow carpark for Ikea, the retailer will display goods related to 70 different sports in its store. There will also be a 1,500 sq m playground.
“We are very excited and proud to be able to offer this huge, innovative and so unique a concept store to Irish sport enthusiasts,” said Bastien Grandgeorge, chief executive of Decathlon in Ireland, adding that he is urging people not to rush to the store for its first day for safety reasons, “and because we will be open forever in Dublin from next Saturday”.
Known as the “Ikea of sports” for its large, warehouse-style outlets and enormous range of keenly-priced sporting goods, Decathlon will open its first store adjacent to the Swedish retailer in Ballymun.
The Ballymun store will be a “sports hub”, with more than 4,000 sq m of retail space, a large external sports area, including a playground, fitness machines, a football pitch, rollerblading area, bike circuit and space for the store to partner with other sports providers to offer classes in yoga or zumba.
The Dublin store will be bigger than the average Decathlon outlet, which is about 3,000sq m, and the Irish hub will have space to display brands including Kalenji, Kipsta and Quechua.
Founded in 1976, the company looked at Ireland a number of years ago, and almost made a move in 2008 before backing away as the financial crisis broke.
More recently it established an Irish office and started selling products online here in 2017. It now averages about 360,000 online orders in the Republic each year.
Decathlon has more than 1,500 stores across more than 40 countries and turnover in excess of €12.4 billion. Ireland was one of the few European countries where it didn’t have a bricks and mortar presence.
It plans to open nine shops in the Republic to add to its existing presence at Decathlon Baile Munna, in which it invested about €13 million. In March, the company secured planning permission for a large-scale outlet at the Liffey Valley retail park.