Swedish MNCs continue to view Malaysia, Greater Kuala Lumpur as ideal Asia investment destination

Sports Direct Malaysia managing director Paul Gibbons says the company has invest RM200 million in Malaysia since its inception.

13 March 2018 - SPORTS Direct, the United Kingdom’s largest sporting goods retailer, aims to set up a regional distribution centre in Greater Kuala Lumpur, in a bid to reach out to the 10 markets in the Asean region.

The company offers the widest range of sportswear, footwear and equipment at unbeatable value and has plans to use Malaysia as the hub for its regional expansion, said Sports Direct Malaysia managing director Paul Gibbons.

Gibbons told NST Business that US$100 million (RM392 million) will be invested for a 20ha site, construction and initial operations.

“We are looking for a site suitable to build a one million sq ft regional distribution centre. We would prefer the site to be in relative proximity to Port Klang as well as able to utilise services rendered at the airport with the new Digital Free Trade Zone, and then at some point with the rail system link that is planned.

For our business, Malaysia’s central connectivity makes it an ideal and strategic choice. We target to manage all the 10 markets in the Asean region from this hub and hope to procure the land and a timeline to build by the end of this year.

This will help procure both brick and mortar businesses around the region and support licensees, considering that the group owns 30 international sports brands.

“We will likely keep our headquarters separated though we may have retail and training facilities built into the facility depending on the final site location. This will depend on consumer accessibility and remains somewhat secondary to the primary objective of having a regional distribution centre,” said Gibbons.

Progressive growth, supported by InvestKL

“Sports Direct has invested in excess of RM200 million in Malaysia since its inception here some eight years ago,” said Gibbons “and currently has 28 stores with a plan to continue growing for certain strategic and geographical locations”.

The company is targeting to achieve RM200 million for the financial year ending April 2018, having recorded RM157 million in sales last year in the domestic market.

The company is hoping to achieve an annual revenue growth of at least 10 per cent per annum.

In the next five years, Sports Direct aims to have a retail presence in each of the leading Southeast Asian markets, either directly or with joint venture partners.

The Sports Direct proprietary website is due to be launched this month and it will continue to develop a marketplace shop-in-shop platform with Lazada.

While the e-commerce expansion is taking on a major focus, it is seen to compliment its retail store business, not compete against it.

“One thing about the sports business is people still need to go out and try on shoes, sports attire plus compare the latest technologies,” said Gibbons.

He said InvestKL, the government entity set up under the Economic Transformation Programme, to attract large global multinational companies (MNCs), has contributed to the company’s development in Malaysia.

“We are carefully setting the foundations for expanded growth and to meet our parent company’s aspirations to become a dominant player within the region. I think we have made good progress until today, ensuring that we create the correct disciplines within our business and InvestKL is helping us to achieve our aspirations.”

“InvestKL looks internally at our business to have a better understanding of how they can help. They open doors, facilitate meetings and help us to promote ourselves domestically and in the region by tapping other agencies and giving us a slightly different perspective on what support is available and how it can help us grow. This has been very helpful,” said Gibbons.

Sports Direct International Plc is the UK’s largest sporting goods retailer by revenue, and operates a diversified portfolio of sports, fitness, fashion and lifestyle fascias and brands.

In the 2017 financial year, group revenue hit £3.2 billion (RM17.6 billion), operating 757 sports stores across the UK and internationally, plus Premium Lifestyle stores in the UK.

The company operates a wide portfolio of globally recognised sports, fashion and lifestyle brands, including Slazenger, Everlast, Lonsdale, Karrimor, Kangol, No Fear and Firetrap.

“Our strategy is to invest in people and key third-party brand partners to attain new levels of excellence across multi-brands and multi-sport offerings to customers.

We aspire to be a leading sports and lifestyle retailer internationally and to deliver sustainable growth for our shareholders in the medium to long-term by offering customers an unrivalled range of high-quality leading brands”.

The group provides a full multichannel retail approach across its fascias in the UK, and increasingly across its fascias in continental Europe and elsewhere.

The group also wholesales and licenses its group brands to partners in the UK, continental Europe, the United States, and the Far East.

Source: New Straits Times

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