By Mario Toneguzzi
Quebec-based sporting goods retailer Sportium has opened its third store in the province with plans for five to six new stores in both Quebec and Ontario over the next three years.
Norman Décarie, SAIL’s President and Chief Executive Officer, which owns the brand, says the new 70,000-square-foot store in Centre Laval required an investment of $15 million and created about 110 jobs. It officially opened to the public on Wednesday.
Saint-Hubert and Quebec City stores opened in 2015.
“The Laval store is part of an ambitious business plan that includes the opening of five to six new stores in Quebec and Ontario over the next three years,” says Décarie. “There’s room in Quebec for another three, four or five stores and in the Greater Toronto Area.
“Of course we need to establish ourselves properly and we need to be solid in Quebec and hold our share of the market before we spread ourselves out West to Ontario . . . I want to have the stores closer to head office to have a good supervision and a good understanding of the customer’s profile and then we will be more than ready to spread ourselves.”
Décarie says there is certainly room for close to five to 10 stores in the Toronto region depending on the availability of land and buildings. The Ottawa-Gatineau region is also a possibility for expansion.
All the future stores would be large format ones of close to 70,000 square feet.
The brand’s biggest competitor is Sport Chek and all the specialized boutique stores, says Décarie.
The Laval store has two floors in the Centre Laval shopping centre located in the Chomedey district.
The company says the ground floor is devoted to personal clothing and training accessories for activities such as running and yoga, but also features many casual wear collections. It also has a wall of shoes with more than 700 models, offering sports enthusiasts the largest selection of brands in Quebec. The second floor has everything needed for team sports such as hockey, soccer, football, basketball, baseball and volleyball, as well as a section reserved for tennis.
“Sportium’s goal is to offer a wider selection and more brand-name sports products in a store that is larger than a football field,” says Décarie. “Sports lovers, from beginners to seasoned athletes, will find everything they need in terms of equipment as well as specialized clothing and footwear, including several exclusive brands. All of our products can also be found on our website, which allows all Canadians to take advantage of Sportium’s unique product offering.”
Décarie says the urban concept of Sportium is reflected in a refined decor with concrete walls and white lacquered displays. At the entrance to the store, a wall of 16 screens showcases promotional videos, interviews with athletes and even occasional sporting events.
On Tuesday, it announced it will be the official sports store of the Laval Rocket of the American Hockey League. Sportium also has partnerships with major sporting events such as the Montreal International Triathlon, IRONMAN Mont-Tremblant as well as well-known athletes such as Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price.
Décarie says the sporting goods industry has always held its place despite economic challenges.
“Sport is also a hobby and a lot of hobbies are sport . . . Right now there’s a lot of spinoff with running and fitness and people getting in shape. We’ve never seen so many runners and so many subscribers in gyms and working out is in style,” he says.
“This is exactly the path that Sportium is taking.”
*Photos in this article were supplied by Sportium, via Communications Infrarouge.
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary has 37 years of experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, city and breaking news, and business. For 12 years as a business writer, his main beats were commercial and residential real estate, retail, small business and general economic news. He nows works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.