The battle between Scandinavia's leading sports and outdoor retailers is heating up, as the XXL Sport chain of megastores has gone on a leasing spree that will increase its total retail space by about 35 percent next year.

Adding 30,000 square meters of extra space, the second-largest Norwegian sports retail group will open at least four more XXL megastores in Sweden and another two in Norway.

With 15 stores of an average size of 4,000 square meters and a strong outdoor department, XXL has arguably become the most influential player in the Norwegian outdoor business, after only 11 years in the market. XXL is striving to build up an equally strong platform in Sweden, where it started last year. It now has five stores in that country.

The new leases will almost double the store presence of XXL in Sweden in 2012. The Norwegian retailer will open a store at the HeronCity mall in Stockholm, in what is described as the country's largest retail park. The second-largest is the Tornby retail park in Linköping, where XXL has also leased space for next year. The two other Swedish stores are planned in the Birsta park in Sundsvall and in Uppsala.

In Norway, the retailer will complement its network with stores at the Moa Centre in Ålesund, and the Strømmen shopping center in Oslo, both among the four largest in the country. Furthermore, two XXL stores near Oslo, in Alnabru and in Ski, are to be enlarged. Another store in Kristiansand will move and its space will be expanded by 50 percent to reach 4,500 square meters.

With that, next year is certain to mark another fierce installment in XXL's battles with more established retailers, particularly the Gresvig buying group in Norway, and Intersport and Team Sportia in Sweden. The new store program is a large step forward for XXL, which has set itself a target to become the largest integrated sports and outdoor retailer in Norway, Sweden and Finland. It also comes just after Décathlon and Usports, two other retailers with comparable store sizes but diverging strategies, have moved into Sweden.

Another sizeable investment for XXL is the opening of a new central warehouse of 24,000 square meters. The retailer boldly decided to switch to this bonded and ultra-efficient warehouse during the month of December but missed just one day of deliveries.

Gresvig, the buying group operating under the G-Sport, Intersport and G-Max formats in Norway, has strengthened its management team as part of its efforts to fight off this tough competition. Espen Bråten, former general manager of Järnia, a large-scale retailer dealing with houseware and DIY products, has joined Gresvig to supervise its sports division. Rolf Gullestad, general manager of Gresvig, previously headed the sports division as well.