Swedish sports chain Stadium has opened its first store on Mönckebergstraße 27 in Hamburg today. The former building, which hosted Miss Sixty, has been completely renovated. The new space has a total of 1.800 sqm of floor space spread over two levels. Outdoor, running, yoga gear, cross fit apparel, backpacks for both men and women can be found on the first floor along with two shop-in-shops from Adidas and Reebok, located right by the entrance. Kids and junior wear, the own Stadium brand Racing Marine, hardware (skateboard, helmets, bicycles) as well as a large sneaker section can be found on the upper floor.

We have meet up with founder Bo and Ulf Eklönd for an interview:

Why did you decide to concentrate on the German market?
Ulf Eklöf: We are in the northern region, so many people said: “Why don’t you go to Norway?” But the Norwegian market is very small so we said we wait with Norway and we asked ourselves which market has the most possibilities for the future and we figured out that the northern part of Germany is the right location. There was a lot of competition finding the right place for the store and other chains we had to compete with.

Don’t you think that the German market is saturated when it comes to sports chains? We have Planet Sports, SportScheck, Intersport, Sport Arena…
Bo Eklöf: Our main competitor is InterSport, they have about 50% of the sports market in Germany and we have them as a rivals in Sweden too and we think that we can enter with something new. Kidswear, Juniorwear and womenswear and we are very strong in shoes. The range is very wide and we have all the price segments. The concept is new with a new merchandising.

What is the biggest difference?
Ulf Eklöf: If you ask me, to point out the most important consumer for us is a woman, approximately 30-40 years old, she has two children, a husband, they are living an active lifestyle, go skiing, go running. And she is the one that has the credit card, she buys for herself (running/training), she buys for her children because of the price and sometimes she buys something for her husband too. She is the most important consumer to reach. What we did 1987 in the first Stadium store in Stockholm was to mix the normal sports hardware with sports fashion. We made it more fashionable. Today for you it is given that you can run in fashionable sports apparel, ten years ago that was not the case. You want to look sporty and fancy when you train and that is new. We saw that very early that this was a merge in sports fashion.

What is your strongest selling segment?
Bo Eklöf: Women running, Juniorwear. 27% is shoes. The bestselling shoe brand is Nike and Adidas number two.

Do you have any plans to further expand?
Bo Eklöf: When we took the decision in 2011 we wanted to learn about the new market. This is a huge market. Over 80 million people are living here, lot of money and we have to see if they understand the brand. Whether they like our private label brands Everest, Soc, Race Marine for example. Do they understand the concept? This takes time, we know that. When we went to Finland it took us 3 to 4 years to establish.

Ulf Eklöf: We want to learn from Hamburg and expand later on, maybe Berlin.

You are very price aggressive…
Ulf Eklöf: We want to be, but these are also the special opening discounts…

Do you think your ‘neighbors’ the other sports chains are concerned?
Uld Eklöf: We don’t know. You have to ask them but we know them very well. We know SportScheck, we have been there and seen them in Munich and other cities. We know that Karstadt Sport is struggling, we know the market and we think there is a gap between Intersport, SportScheck and Karstadt which is not strong but there is a gap. We are a little bit more fashion, a little bit more color, more women. There is the market gap and we can see that.

Are you making the most revenue with your own brands?
Ulf Eklöf: It is a mixture, we have higher margins because of our own brands because we produce and design them in our own house and we produce them in Far East.  But we need Nike, Adidas, Under Armour and Peak Performance e.g. to have something in that price segment and this is very important for us. Our own brands like Soc build the first price level and on that we can build the others.

Bo Eklöf: A lot of people say: “Are you going to be a new H&M and Ikea with your own brands?”, and my answer is no. In sports retailing it is very important to have these brands like Nike and Co. These push the sales and the market.

Stadium, founded by the brothers Ulf (owns 55%) and Bo Eklöf (owns 20%) and also owned with 25% by the Ikano Company (owned by the family of Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad), is the biggest sports chain in Scandinavia with over 150 stores in Sweden, Denmark and Finland. The company also provides concepts like Stadium Ski, Stadium Outlet as well as the subsidiary company Sports camp. Stadium employs 3.200 people. In 2012/13 the company achieved sales of 0.7 billion Euro including value added tax.