“We always recruit for passion and personality rather than qualifications and skills,” says Danny Lavelle, Manager of Decathlon in Canada Water. “Our staff all need to take on responsibility from the first day. We ask a lot of them but certainly I’ve found that they grow in confidence and though they may start out a bit unsure, soon with loads of business training, they’re feeling OK addressing groups of a hundred or more!” I met up with Danny between meetings on a busy day in store and we sat comfortably whilst I got to know him a little.

Staff Team - thumbLocal and committed

“I’ve lived locally for the last four years and I’ve really come to love Rotherhithe. It’s not like living in London is supposed to be! We lived next to the Old Salt Quay for a while and then we moved 100m down the road. I’ve always loved running and football and it’s amazing to live only a ten minute run from London Bridge. I was brought up in Manchester; I’ve always been involved with sport. I played basketball for Stockport but in the end had to choose between football and basketball. Early on ten years ago, I got a part-time job in the Decathlon depot in Stockport; I stuck it out and began to love it. Then I moved with Decathlon to Sheffield before four years ago, getting the job as operations manager here at Surrey Quays. I was tasked with decanting the two stores we used to have into the enlarged one store we’ve got now. And then I became the store manager!”

“…We want to expand our community links and to ensure they are real two-way partnerships…”


Staff in pile - cropped - thumbDecathlon – sport for all

“Our mission is to make sport accessible to everyone, not just the elite sportsperson but for example, the mum or gran who’s unsure about how to start out. That’s why the passion of the people around me is so important – and of course it’s very contagious! We focus at the moment on twenty ‘passion brands’ that we can stock and show off well. We are soon moving up to forty, offering the same choice we had in the two stores but at greater density. We are known for our bikes and hiking gear but now we have much more for runners and this year we have more to offer for water sports. We don’t try to serve the whole of London but try to master the 10-minute and 20-minute zones, the time it takes people to get to our store. Making sport available to the many in those zones is our goal.”

New store concept from Canada Water

New store concept from Canada Water

All weather try outs

“Our business is very seasonal. We sell skiing gear in winter and camping gear in the summer months but we are still very dependent on the weather. If it’s a bright fresh day in spring, we see our sales lift but when it’s cold or wet, few people are thinking about playing sport. When the Olympics come round – or the World Cup – our customers swarm in but at other times we have to work harder to get their attention. We have about 75 staff at this store of 4,000 sqm and many of them walk to work; about 45% are full-time, 55% part-time. They come from across Europe and have an amazing range of knowledge and skill in different sports. We have more experience areas in the store now so people can have a go and we’ve held a range of outdoor events in local parks, with local schools and in our own car park, all to give locals a chance to test the equipment and see if it works for them.”

“…We’ll be able to play sport on the roof terrace of the new store…”


New store concept from Surrey Quays Road

New store concept from Surrey Quays Road

New store in preparation

“As part of the largest sports retailer in Europe and with 20 stores across the UK – and another eight on the way – we’re so well placed to work with local clubs and enthusiasts! Our new home is being prepared at the moment alongside us at the current store and in moving into a single purpose-built sports supermarket, we know we will have an even better retail offer. In the current store we are putting in a climbing wall upstairs at the moment and we already have a golf simulator. In the new store, there will be even more space for more test areas. We’ll be able to play sport on the roof terrace of the new store, shared with the residents. At the moment, we just don’t know whether we will have 5,000 or 10,000 sqm but whichever we hope to move in in late summer next year.”


Demo in store - thumbSharing expertise

“We really enjoy working with local clubs and schools. We’ve worked with Albion Primary School on cycle proficiency and last year, we ran a 10km run in Southwark Park. We have a free running club that’s open to all on Thursdays and we hope to have an inflatable roller-skating rink set up this summer in the car park. We want to expand our community links and to ensure they are real two-way partnerships. Online we run the Decathlon community, a place where people can ask questions of our staff and get direct answers to their queries without leaving home. We gain from knowing our customers’ needs better and hopefully the clubs and coaches can be better informed about the current equipment available for their sport here. We can make so much more of a difference to sport locally if we are an continual part of local sports activities of all sorts.”


Danny Lavelle - portraitDanny Lavelle – Store Manager, Decathlon Surrey Quays
M: 07800 586 251 E: danny.lavelle@decathlon.com T: 020 7394 2000 (ask for Danny)

Store details UK-240
Company website: decathlon.co.uk

Canada Water Retail Park, Surrey Quays Road, SE16 2XU