Sports Direct: A customer focused retail destination

Megan Hotson


Sports Direct: A customer focused retail destination 

The growing desire consumers have for a unique retail experience that is inspirational, accessible and inclusive prompted Frasers Group to pursue an elevation strategy that would re-invent Sports Direct’s reputation and welcome a consumer-centric model.

Frasers Group’s Chief Executive, Michael Murray, describes the elevation as “a complete 360 ” (Financial Times). Now the strategy is guided by consideration - with clear communication, the latest product releases from the Group’s brand partners such as Nike, Adidas and Puma, and a focus on the consumer journey.

Sports Direct’s transformation is one worth shouting about because it demonstrates the value to be found in changing direction in response to a consumer’s changing mindset to re-define a philosophy that resonates and can be aptly translated in-store to join up the customer experience.

Richard Collier, Managing Partner for The One Off, commented: “It has been incredibly rewarding to work with Sports Direct over the past five years to elevate the customer experience. We are continually looking at how we can use the latest retail thinking to create an exciting experience whilst delivering great value stores…”

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The brand experience in a nutshell

Sports Direct’s refreshed and elevated store experience is a critical part of the Group’s overall elevation strategy. Sports Direct has an established and defined brand vision, and through this brings the best of sports to the consumer with an unrivalled product choice and world-class experiences. Accessibility, inclusion, and inspiration are core elements of the brand’s experience – a brand driven by purpose; Sports Direct’s mission is to use the powers of sport to champion the legend in everyone.

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More accessible:

A fundamental step towards creating a space far removed from the previous Sports Direct experience was ensuring that the brand felt accessible and elevated.

There was a need to ensure that Sports Direct’s established values were communicated cross-generationally to ensure that people of all ages felt comfortable when shopping or experiencing the brand. 

Alongside the experiential elements as aforementioned, by making the store feel like a more premium space, one that is more open and inviting, consumers of all ages are more incentivised to visit.

Swapping out Sports Direct’s pre-existing environment for a clearly organised, easy to shop, scalable and browsable format was a critical change, which has helped the brand live up to their elevated attitudes and purpose.

By developing more sophisticated wayfinding for example – customers can easily locate and explore the multiple brands and products on offer in (often) difficult sites to navigate.

An omni-channel approach further enhances the store’s accessibility. Scannable QR codes that direct customers through to product guides, or more information on the website empowers consumers with added expertise, supporting them in their journey from shelf to purchase.

Making Sports Direct more accessible to consumers allows the experiential element of the stores to be layered, creating a new springboard for inspiration.

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More inspirational:

Sports Direct has embarked on a multi-year programme in order to elevate its existing store portfolio in multiple countries, translating the brand promise captured by the words ‘Sport starts here’.

Key to the redesign was incorporating more experiential, and interactive features that allow consumers to engage with the brand and better explore the vast array of products available. 

Stores now include multiple interactive and immersive experiences, including a Bra Studio, an augmented reality mirror for kids, a live basketball experience, football shirt personalisation, and a golf putting green to trial products. Award winning artworks by local artists have been housed in key stores, adding another layer of inspiration.

Whether it’s football, running, training, boxing, walking, dance, cycling or swimming, Sports Direct aims to serve, support and inspire with products that bring out the best in everyone and with these elements, the brand can drive inspiration and encourage consumers to fully engage with the products and brands. Reiterating the desire to improve the customer experience by creating an engaging and immersive space in stores.


More inclusive:

The use of realistic mannequins that reflect real-life body shapes demonstrates that Sports Direct want to ensure their consumers feel comfortable shopping. Additionally, Sports Direct focuses on availability and diversification by stocking a variety of clothing and equipment, this enables consumers to find exactly what they need to partake in their sport of choice. This addition through the stores, further demonstrates Sports Direct’s brand mission to use the power of sports to champion the legend in everyone.


A best practice brand...

Making the stores more accessible, inspirational and inclusive has enabled the brand’s presence on the High Street to stand out. Retail influencer, Ian Scott has recently commended the Sports Direct flagship sites on Oxford Street and Birmingham New Street, using them as best practice examples for other retailers to take notes from.

Scott comments on the value of making the stores accessible through sophisticated wayfinding: “At Sports Direct they understand how shoppers navigate when creating the signage…”

Alongside this, Scott references the brand’s Bra Studio: “This concept in the Sports Direct Elevation concept is a great example of how sophisticated, informative and easy to shop it has become,” reinforcing the importance of imbuing a physical retail space with inspiration to enhance the customer journey (LinkedIn).

Real results 

Sports Direct are clearly on the ball - the results so far demonstrate the appetite from consumers for change. Swapping a less accessible environment, for a more open and premium space has allowed the brand to develop a loyal group of brand ambassadors, not just budget-driven customers.

Their elevation strategy is scalable across Europe and will continue to impact their business and consumers to futureproof their brand looking ahead. 

  • The stock price has increased since the Elevation Strategy was initiated. The Frasers Group stock price had moved from 377 GBX to 740 GBX at the time of writing.
  • The One Off has helped Frasers Group elevate more than 100 stores (and counting) across the UK and Europe, together with partners EB Designs, Smith Brewer and Inurface Media.
  • An increase of over 18 million followers across social platforms and improved engagement through digital in-store offerings, resulting in 82% of users finding Sports Direct products on social media and 450k more followers on Tik Tok.
  • Sports Direct, Birmingham New Street nominated for Retail week’s Best New store award 2023.
  • Sports Direct, Oxford Street won store design of the year at the Creative Retail Awards 2022 and was awarded silver for Best Brand Experience at the Transform Awards 2022.

What lies ahead for the brand is exciting to contemplate, and we are excited to continue to support in their future ambitions to innovate and keep pace in the retail industry. 

We also want to thank key partners who were instrumental in translating Frasers Group’s elevation strategy into Sports Direct stores. EB designs successfully project managed each store through to delivery, alongside production partner, Smith Brewer, and Inurface media, Frasers Group’s digital partner.

See more of our work with Sports Direct here

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