Welcoming the ten Sportsman's Warehouse stores to INTERSPORT Australia is "the cherry on the top for us, making us much stronger in regional NSW and a truly national sports retail group focussed on our local communities".
So says IAU chief executive Kevin O'Hanlon and his team, with the SW stores trading from July 1 in the burgeoning Australian iteration of a leading global retail group.
Globally, INTERSPORT International is an 11.6 billion Euro business in 43 countries and more than 5560 stores, of which IAU is a subsidiary to be proud, with a $150 million business and very strong relationships with major brands.
With the SW store additions, IAU will have 77 doors, a considerable achievement from its launch on July 1 2014 with 33 stores converting from Independent Sports.
Sportsman's Warehouse was also a member of Independent Sports and left the group to go its own way.
Now after long negotiations, the group headed by directors Sajat Mahajan, Alannah Magee and Michelle Walton and franchise store managers are being welcomed enthusiastically into the fold.
SW flagship is based in the ACT suburb of Fyshwick, with other stores in Canberra's Gungahlin, as well as Orange, Dubbo, Bathurst, Wagga Wagga, Tamworth and Albury in country NSW, Wangaratta in northern Victoria, and Yeppoon in Central Queensland.
O'Hanlon describes them as "a very sophisticated and independent retailer", and says the numbers made sense for them. "They will re-brand and make all the other changes required to become part of our national group.
"Recruiting continues as there are still opportunities out there, but as always, IAU will be focusing on quality recruits rather than quantity," he says.
The SW team, representing all stores, was made welcome at last week's go-to-market conference held in Melbourne, one of the two major events held each year for members and brand partners.
Welcoming the SW team (from left): INTERSPORT's Guy Cooper, Kevin O'Hanlon and Sven Karlsson with Sajat Mahajan, Hannah Briggs, Erin Kruse, Marcus Chobdzynski, Anne Fursman, Adam Nicholson, Alannah Magee, Chris Moase, Michelle Walton and Shane Cantrill;
(Above right, from left:) INTERSPORT's head office team Yijin Luo, Daniel Meltser, Anthony Antoniou, Sue Robbins, Guy Cooper, Sven Karlsson, Kevin O'Hanlon and Heather Lawson
Says O'Hanlon, "It was our best conference so far, with a great turn-out, and all were delighted to hear that IAU will be ramping up online and e-commerce after a very successful 12 months trial."
Sales doubled those budgeted in this first year, with IAU designing and developing its own system. This development is based around its store-based fulfillment strategy with the aim of sharing orders around stores as much as possible while keeping delivery timelines to the customer top of mind.
Says O'Hanlon, "With our customer as our number one focus, our ONE INTERSPORT mantra is devoted to building consistency in customer service standards online and instore.
"With no central distribution centre, we needed to develop, build and operate an online system that is fair to all stores, allowing all stores who choose to participate to act as order fulfillment stores, on a rotation system based on geography and stock availability.
"We currently have 22 stores fulfilling and we'll roll out up to another 20 stores ready for Christmas.
"It's onwards and upwards from here, as we will now ramp up our online presence with a strong digital marketing focus and a complementary local community sport connection at a store level.
"We are staying true to our vision as true community sports stores with a regional focus, and are delighted that our customers and our partner brands really value this."
O'Hanlon has recently returned from INTERSPORT International's biannual go-to-market SS2020 conference, held in Amsterdam.
"It's great to get a global perspective on the trends and performance of both the brands and the retail market in general and it's certainly reassuring to know that we have partnered with the right group," he says.
The conference expressed considerable interest in IAU's new online fulfillment model.
An seven-day retail research trip to China for a party made up of 26 members and led by General Manager Sven Karlsson and Marketing Coordinator Heather Lawson will check out Shanghai and Beijing.
Karlsson says, "Many say that China is leading the world in the digital retail space and it will be a great opportunity for our members to experience that for themselves and hopefully bring some new ideas and initiatives back to their own stores and to the group."
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