The 73 biggest integrated sporting goods retailers raised their sales to $92.2 billion in 2014, according to an annual SGI survey, indicating growth of 8.4 percent in local currencies and 7.5 percent in U.S. dollars. This represents a slight acceleration in their expansion as compared to 2013, when their sales rose by 6.8 percent and 5.7 percent, respectively.

Higher sales increases were scored by the chains in the developed markets of Europe, Japan and North America as well as in the rest of the world. On a currency-neutral basis, the retailers based in developed countries grew by 7.7 percent in 2014 compared with 6.8 percent the year before. The overall growth rate more than doubled to 15.1 percent from 6.0 percent for retailers that have their home base in other countries, and many of these retailers are reviewed in our market research on the BRICs (see our special new promotion on page 5).

Decathlon, which works out of France but has its top management spread around the world, remained the largest integrated sports retailer in the galaxy with a turnover in dollars of $10.9 billion. It helped to drive the growth of the global market with its strong expansion in China, India and other emerging markets. Its sales in euros inflated by 10.8 percent last year, up from an increase of 5.7 percent in 2013.

Stronger growth rates were also recorded by the three other major players in the sports retail market, which are all based in the U.S. - Foot Locker, Dick's Sporting Goods and Academy Sports - and at REI. Academy surpassed Bass Pro Shops, which moved from fourth to fifth place on our 2014 chart..... (interesting performances for the major outdoor retailers in the U.S.). Sales accelerated more strongly at Canadian Tire, the new owner of the Forzani Group, and at Pou Sheng, the retail arm of Yue Yuen.

With a sales increase of 30.0 percent, XXL Sport, a relatively young Norwegian-based retailer that is expanding fast in the Nordic countries, reached the highest growth rate globally last year. Its management confirmed to us a report that it is looking at a possible entry in Switzerland, Austria or Southern Germany, where climatic and economic conditions are similar to those of its home country......

More in SGI Europe, including the chart with the sales of all the 73 retailers in the last two years.