Admitting that it had made some mistakes, which are now being corrected, Decathlon announced a major slowdown in its growth at a press conference held in Lausanne last month, the first to have been held outside France. It also gave for the first time some data about its bottom line, showing that it still has ample room for investments and discounting.
After many years of continued growth, the world's largest integrated sports retailer suffered a decline in its operating and net income in 2018 as its sales rose by only 5 percent to €11.3 billion. Its annual growth rate had remained in a range of 10 to 11 percent since 2014.
It continued to make a profit although the prices charged in its stores for similar products were reduced globally on average by 5 percent. Decathlon reported a 19 percent decline in its net income to €497 million for 2018 as the operating profit fell to €828 million from a peak of €970 million in 2017. It had been rising steadily from a level of €700 million in 2014. The cash flow remained strong, in spite of investments of €620 million, and the company ended up with a rather healthy net debt/equity ratio of 23 percent. (Much more in SGI Europe.)