Europe’s top sports store, Decathlon, is preparing to open a new store in Charlton next month. But it doesn’t want to shout about it.
If you’re a keen runner or cyclist, or have ever picked up football training gear, you’ll probably know about the chain, whose only other outlet in south-east London is in Rotherhithe.
It sells quality sports equipment at low prices. You might have seen its Btwin bikes around the place, or its Kipsta training gear. (And you can buy Ritter Sports at the checkout too.)
Now the French-based chain is preparing to move into the former Next store in the Bugsby’s Way retail parks.
Which is great news for Charlton. But it would be even better if Decathlon could actually admit that its store is in Charlton.
Yes, it’s that same old story. Decathlon is currently billing the store as being in “Greenwich”. Not with an SE7 postcode, buster.
We’re used to second-rate retail shed chains and other imposters claiming to be in the posher place down the road. Which is why you won’t read about Homesense on this site.
There’s even “Starbucks Greenwich” on Woolwich Road, two miles down the road from the actual Starbucks Greenwich.
But we thought better of Decathlon.
Charlton means sport, after all. From Charlton Athletic to the muddy pitches of Charlton Park, Charlton Lido to the skate park and cricket hub, Hornfair Park’s BMX hub to Charlton Park rugby club, there are few names in south London with a bigger sporting tradition.
And loads of people who will buy football, swimming, skating, biking, rugby and cricket gear because they identify with Charlton. Think of the marketing opportunities for Decathlon.
Greenwich, meanwhile, means the same old tourist stuff. Outside SE10, it’s an empty boast.
Shame, really, because other stores are proud to be in Charlton. Asda has never pretended to be anywhere else in over 30 years. Its newer neighbour Sainsbury’s proudly boasts of being in Charlton Riverside. And look at Primark’s store boss when he opened for business last year…
It’s a small thing, but one that grates. And when we asked Decathlon why it was naming its new store “Greenwich”, it didn’t respond. So let’s do something about it.
We’ve done this before – heading off a plan to rename Charlton Lido as “Royal Greenwich Lido” in 2013. Let’s do it again.