Toys ‘R’ Us will live on in Canada
Toys “R” Us stores will remain up and running in Canada, while its stores in Germany, Austria and Switzerland will be rebranded.
The retailer, which is currently conducting one of the largest-ever U.S. retail liquidations, agreed at a bankruptcy court hearing on Tuesday to sell its 82-store Canadian unit to Toronto-based investment firm Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. for approximately $234 million dollars ($C300). Fairfax, which submitted the sole bid for the division, will continue operating Toys “R” Us stores in Canada under the company’s existing name.
In Europe, Ireland-based Smyths Toys has agreed to acquire Toys “R” Us’ 93 stores and websites in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The family-owned Smyths, which currently operates 90 stores throughout Britain and Northern Ireland and 21 shops in the Republic of Ireland, plans to rebrand the Toys “R” Us stores under its own banner.
“We are convinced about the future of multichannel specialist toy retail and are confident that we can successfully introduce and grow our brand in continental Europe,” co-founder Tony Smyth said.
Camping World to enter two new markets
Camping World Holdings is once again expanding its fast-growing portfolio.
The company, which announced plans to open locations in Baxter, Minnesota, and Eau Claire, Wisconsin by first quarter 2019. Camping World currently owns and operates more than 140 supercenters nationwide, with most locations specializing in RV sales and service, and retail accessories.
The retailer is on a roll. During the past month, it announced plans to open new locations in Augusta, Ga., Marion, Ill., and Huber Heights, Ohio by the end of 2018. It also plans new locations in Lafayette, La., Rockford, Ill., and Wichita, Kansas, by first quarter 2019.
“We have strengths and assets in our portfolio to expand on and are making consistent progress with our growth strategy to position our company for the future,” said Marcus Lemonis, chairman of Camping World. “We’re encouraged by recent market analysis and customer feedback and will continue to research new opportunities to deliver on areas best for the outdoor enthusiasts’ community.”
Camping World is part of a portfolio that also includes Erehwon Mountain Outfitters, Gander Outdoors, Good Sam, Overton’s, The House, Uncle Dan’s and more.
French sporting goods giant unveils North American locations
Decathlon has dropped anchor in San Francisco and Canada — but don’t expect Nike or any other familiar global brands.
The value-priced French sporting goods retailer, which operates nearly 1,500 locations across some 40 countries, recently opened an 8,313-sq.-ft. “lab” store on Market Street in San Francisco. Decathlon said it chose to focus on San Francisco to allow the brand to become familiar with the practices of local sports fans before a possible expansion throughout the United States. It also is selling online — but only to residents of California.
This is not Decathlon’s first foray in the United States. It previously entered the U.S. market in 1999 when it acquired 18 stores from MVP Sports. But it ended up closing the stores and leaving the U.S. in 2006, according to FashionNetwork.
Founded in 1976, Decathlon began designing and manufacturing its own products in 1986. Since then, it has created more than 25 private brands across nearly every conceivable sport and outdoor and fitness sport category, from running and golf to snorkeling and fishing to badminton and table tennis. Vertical integration allows Decathlon to sell their own brands at prices far below what competing retailers do, according to the company, while still driving innovation based on feedback from their millions of in-store customers. The company files up to 40 patents per year in developing innovative new products for its owned brands.
“What really sets Decathlon apart from other sports retailers is how we innovate, design and manufacture our own brands for each individual sport, which we make available direct to our community of sports lovers,” said Decathlon USA’s chief executive officer, Michel d’Humières.
The San Francisco lab store does not look like a traditional Decathlon store. It is intended more as a space for reflection, creativity and dialogue between Decathlon designers, customers and local athletes. It also serves as a community hub for activities ranging from group runs to workshops and yoga. It also provides maintenance, repair and customization services.
“Presenting new products and high-value innovations are at the core of our business model,” d’Humières said. “With this San Francisco space, our goal is to discover the best user experience in-store and online for Americans by understanding their needs in order to co-design together and create the best platform.”
By contrast, the full Decathlon experience is on display at the brand’s just-opened location at Mail Champlain, in the Montreal suburb of Brossard. The 65,000-sq.-ft. Canadian outpost, which offers more than 6,500 products and accessories, features an array of designated product-testing areas.
In addition to wide aisles where bikes and skateboards can be tested, the location also has a putting green, a basketball court, a small indoor rock climbing wall and a pool of water to try out fishing rods and other water-related products. There is also a virtual reality experience that allows shoppers to view a selection of more than 200 tents as if they were in the outdoors through VR goggles.