Sports – they boost moods, improve sleep and develop life skills that help us deal with depression, anxiety and stress. People with active lifestyles tend to do so because it gives them a sense of well-being. They feel more energetic throughout the day, have sharper memories, and feel more positive about themselves and their lives. Fueled by this same passion and a desire to create impact through innovation is Decathlon – the French sporting-goods company that hopes to make the world a better place through sports. 

We reached out to Decathlon to learn more about how their mission extends far beyond sports to support a corporate culture of accountability – from their ecological footprint, to design, production, manufacturing and business operations.

Decathlon's ITIWIT Kayak gonflable Strenfit X500. Photo credit: Decathlon

From humble beginnings in northern France in 1976, Decathlon has today earned its spot as one of the most recognized sporting-goods retailers with 1600 stores located in 62 countries around the world. Designing and producing for over 85 house brands that specialize in both individual and team sports, Decathlon’s idea of design is based on one key principle: humanity – where people are the company’s most valuable resource. 

As complex and as faceted as its users, Decathlon employs over 300 designers and 600 engineers who all work towards a common goal: to improve lives by sustainably providing access to sports to everyone, everywhere. Their product lines are designed to encourage active lifestyles regardless of ability or status. The success of this strategy is due in large part to the relationship that its design teams seek to develop from the observations with athletes that help Decathlon better understand the functional and emotional values of their product lifecycles, as well as improve on the relevant technical specifications, balancing performance with comfort, safety and style. 

The 2 Seconds Easy Tent has been Decathlon’s best selling product since coming on the market in 2005. Photo credit: Decathlon

More Innovation. More Great Products. More People Playing.

Countless studies have shown the benefits of physical activity on social cohesion as much as on our bodies and minds. More sport means fewer diseases, and improved social integration. As a result, Decathlon is also invested in leveraging sports to advocate more sustainable practices and sports development policies. Be it through reduced packaging and environmental labeling to accessibility by public transport to its stores, or improving energy efficiency and optimizing storage and transport, it’s all part of their desire to ‘democratize sports’ and to be useful to human beings and to the planet. To that end, Decathlon not only recognizes its current state of affairs on the environment, but ambitions to be a driver of change. They have set high targets for the reduction of their environmental footprint, specifically with regards to their design operations and by next year are hoping that 30% of sales will come from eco-designed products.

The EasyBreath is first snorkeling face mask that allows full underwater panoramic vision. Photo credit: Decathlon

With the sharing, circular and green economies becoming increasingly prevalent and where the preservation of outdoor playgrounds are perhaps more relevant than brick and mortar stores, Decathlon is working to embrace design activism and create a positive impact in the world. The company aims to play a leading role in the transformation of consumption patterns and sporting practices without ever losing sight of its commitment towards making sports accessible to as many as possible.

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