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Posted by: INTERSPORT / Independent Sports / The Team Sports Buying Group on 08/09/2017

Intersport: it’s about owning your town

Intersport: it’s about owning your town

Staking a claim in every town we have a store, and owning it, is vital to  the continued success of Intersport Australia.

So says Chief Executive Kevin O’Hanlon and he told members at the July annual meeting in Darwin, that “we have the ethic of having “the best store in town” wherever we trade and should celebrate this positioning.” Editor Maggie Coleman reports

The 64-strong store chain is growing fast and full of plans to grow “region by region, store by store and customer by customer.”

He acknowledged  the challenges from overseas chains, the arrival of Amazon and  the  changes in the  Australian industry, but says “we have to control our controllables, we cannot control what overseas entrants are doing.”

Arrivals such as JD Sports and Decathlon might promise to establish large numbers of stores in Australia but when they then realise  the realities of Australian conditions – such as the high cost of rents, wages and freight, the tyranny of distance – they tend to focus on CBDs, O’Hanlon says.

They learn that Australia has unique geography and local communities which is beyond their reach without bricks and mortar presence, and “this leaves the position open for us.

“We are going to secure it – building on our strengths of being regional and local and no longer apologising for fully connecting with our customers, clubs and communities.

O’Hanlon and his head office team told the gathering at Darwin’s Hilton Hotel Esplanade, filled by enthusiastic members and major brands, that an e-commerce and digital platform will be launched in Janaury, designed “to stake a claim in every town.”

The board of directors has decided to invest in each store in the network to assist them to provide an enhanced customer experience and work on building sponsorships and community activities.

The Intersport Australia sponsorship of the Essendon  Bombers – as official sports footwear provider for three years – “has been a great success and we are also looking for a rugby opportunity in 2018 as well.”

“This is halo spending from the top down but we are also going to ramp up efforts in store and focus on building the Intersport brand from the bottom up too,” he says.

By January next year, 22 stores will have been refurbished consistent with the international Intersport concept – the customer experience is critically important in our regions, says O’Hanlon.

The Melbourne-based  head office team reports  massive progress on the first five year plan – Intersport  Australia was established  here on July 1, 2014 with 38 stores,  mostly members of its predecessor Independent Sports and is now well on its way to have 100 stores and an annual  turnover of $200m  in 2020.

“We are talking to many potential new members now,” he says.

The board is also working on the next five year plan – “looking over the fence – we are confident  of the strength of our bricks-and-mortar stores and our position in the regions.”

Among the highlights of the  Darwin event was  Martin Kempkes (pictured right) as keynote speaker. As Intersport International Corporation’s Chief Retail Officer and IIC board member, Kempkes adressed members and  brands on  the future of sports retail and Intersport’s global direction, visiting the event at the personal invitation of Kevin O’Hanlon.

Says O’Hanlon, “He was delighted with where we are at, with our pace and penetration in the local market, and was  most impressed by our flagship Intersport Darwin store and the Darwin team (which will launch their mirror-image new  store in the new Palmerston shopping centre scheduled to open in late September).

• Intersport Australia board member changes at the mid-July annual meeting included the  election of a new chairman Intersport Bendigo’s David Bicknell, replacing  Damian De Grandi from Intersport Geelong who stepped down after eight years as chairman and is now vice-chairman.

Intersport Warragul owner Peter Nicholson (pictured left) has sold his store and retired after 19 years on the board and many more as a sports retailer – he attended the event as Intersport’s guest, with new owner Brent Mounsey, who had  managed the store for some years.

New board member is Bronte Tentyre, member of the successful Intersport Darwin team.