Creating safe, high-quality products

Lasting customer satisfaction is one of Decathlon’s primary concerns.

As a designer and thanks to regular visits to our suppliers, we pursue our goal of continuously improving the quality of our Decathlon brand products.

In 2017, the Quality teams launched a new collaborative initiative, confirming their role as “risk identifiers” and “solution co-creators”.

Decathlon created training courses for suppliers to help them better control toxicological risks with a clear aim: to act pre-emptively to protect people and the environment and improve product quality by monitoring the chemicals used during manufacturing processes.

In addition, we updated Decathlon’s standards in 2017 with the new Restricted Substances List (RSL), which provides our suppliers with a precise list of hazardous chemicals whose use we prohibit, as well as tolerance thresholds for those that are permitted. This list is based on the latest regulations, toxicological studies and improved testing methods that allow us to optimise tolerance thresholds.

2017 Summary

We launched a new Quality project developed with our teams and adapted to local conditions.

The design teams have greater autonomy to evaluate risks and devise action plans.

We are stepping up chemical substance management training for our suppliers in order to better anticipate and prevent risks.

The new Quality project: greater autonomy for more local responsibility

Decathlon teams are taking an integrated approach to ensuring quality across the company, at every stage of the value chain. While the scope of the Quality teams’ work is global51, it is also adapted to local conditions to ensure the lasting satisfaction and safety of the sportspeople who use our products worldwide.

The new Quality project, which is aligned with Decathlon’s Vision 2026, was launched in January 2017 and is based on the principles of subsidiarity and collaboration. It aims to increase knowledge transfer, promote responsibility sharing across our processes and support individuals as they gain greater autonomy. The Quality teams at the head office support the teams in countries where Decathlon operates, helping them take on board their specific needs.

This is possible largely thanks to a point person on the ground who ensures easy

access to tools and key contacts. The goal is for each country to be responsible for creating the right conditions for their users’ satisfaction and for providing locally relevant solutions.

This objective, which produced five strategic areas, resulted from brainstorming involving representatives from more than 18 countries, teammates who sit on study committees and take part in different working groups. The objective was shared outside of the department to increase visibility and highlight its strengths and weaknesses. To ensure project success in 2017, special emphasis was placed on communication, comprehension and integration by local teams. Efforts were made to implement operational development plans, increase team skill levels and confirm that the new skills had been properly acquired. Self-evaluation is one of the tools that allows each individual to assess knowledge and skills acquisition using the means of their choice.

Rolling out the new quality project: Turkey’s story

In 2017, after the Quality teams had carried out their reflection process, the Turkish design, production, logistics, and in-store teams received training. The first step was a complete risk assessment that provided a detailed overview of the current situation. After this diagnostic stage, an action plan was adopted and a Country Quality Leader was appointed.

In order to guarantee the initiative’s success and involve local teams, the quality teams carried out regular follow-ups to ensure that skill levels were rising, teammates were learning and that the actions they were taking were sound. The Quality Leader plays an essential role, working on the ground to tailor the project to meet local needs and to suit the desires of the local teams.

Meeting with Ayhan ALGUR

Quality Leader for Turkey

What were the main factors that motivated you while implementing a Turkey-specific Quality project?
To me, it was very clear that there was a need for a basic Quality organisation, and I wanted to use my potential, my experience and my motivation to meet that need. My primary motivation was a desire to create something new that hadn't existed before but that the company really needed.
How would you describe your role as Quality Leader for Turkey?
The work that I did in Turkey followed three basic steps:
- helping the teams improve their skill levels
- clarifying the risks of non-quality specific to the country
- controlling these risks using quality problem-solving tools
Taux de retours qualité pour les produits Decathlon*
* RPM = (quantités retournées / quantités vendues) * 1 000 000

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Recovering defective products, analysing them and continuously improving our product quality

If a product that is available in our stores is defective or if its quality is called into question, there are several solutions that can help us protect users and get back to selling products that meet our standards as quickly as possible: RED (Returned for Defect – Retour en Défectueux) is an indicator we can use as part of these solutions.

It is important for users to bring or send in their defective products so that we can work on improving product quality. Some of these defective products are sent directly to our design teams for analysis: by being proactive, our teams can make a well-informed decision about what corrective actions need to be taken (taking a product off the shelves, making repairs, returning products to the supplier, destroying or recalling products if there are quality or safety issues).

Returned products actually provide valuable information about why a product’s quality was insufficient so that we can continuously improve product quality in general.

43,673 products returned for in-store quality analysis to the Decathlon brand departments

Decathlon is committed to standardising online consumer reviews

Since 2013, there has been a French standard in place for online consumer reviews. To comply with this standard’s requirements, Decathlon launched a country-wide standardisation process in cooperation with AFNOR to actively improve practices on the ground.

To go even further and share the requirements born of our experience, Decathlon also became involved with the international standards commission and was named Chair of the International Online Reputation Committee.

In 2017 the final touches were put on this ISO standard. A decree dated 5 October 201758 was published in France. It will go into force on 1 January 2018, providing a framework for online consumer reviews.

The French standard and the future international standard are voluntary: it remains to be seen if both standards will be maintained, or if the international standard will supersede the French one. The five-yearly revision of the international standard is another opportunity for Decathlon to maintain a presence on the ISO Committee and to continue to propose improvements for consumer review collection and tracking practices.

Nicolas MARCQ
Meeting with Nicolas MARCQ

ISO/TC 290 Committee Secretary

What is your view on Decathlon’s commitment to standardise consumer review practices?
Decathlon has pioneered consumer review tracking and analysis and is one of the first large companies to have created an international consumer review handling system that focuses on reliability. Decathlon has been an engaged and active participant in this standardisation initiative since the beginning. They have served as Committee Chair and oversaw the International Technical Committee that is about to publish a new standard, ISO 20488 “Online consumer reviews – Principles and requirements for their collection, moderation and publication”.
How would you characterise this collaboration and what work remains to be done by Decathlon?
The Chair of the International Technical Committee, Laurent Petit, has managed to coordinate and create an effective roadmap among the international key players of online reviews. This is no small feat, since the great diversity of the entities involved made the project very complex. ISO 20488 is a big first step, but it should be followed by other standardisation initiatives, focusing firstly on online reputation.

Suppliers: key partners in our chemical risk management strategy

At Decathlon a six-person team dedicated to chemical risk management leads the way on this topic across all divisions. It provides tools and training courses and is in charge of determining substances that pose a risk, how often controls are carried out, testing methods and tolerance thresholds.

With the creation of training sessions for suppliers to help them better anticipate risks and adopt a prevention mindset, 2017 marked a turning point. Similar to the Quality project, the goal here is to make suppliers more independent by raising their chemical risk management skill levels. Chemical substance management will improve further when our suppliers become more demanding of their own suppliers. This new operational model helps to ensure that information about chemical substances is shared throughout the supply chain.

An internal network of trainers in our main production areas helps to support suppliers as they come into compliance with our requirements.

In 2017, we focused on finalising various tools (training materials, progress roadmap, supplementary documents) and sharing best practices with our other production areas.


“Toxi days” provide training for country representatives

“Toxi Days” are support sessions designed to help our point people improve their knowledge of toxicology so they can identify and remedy instances of non-compliance in their areas of responsibility. In each country, these point people (who devote between 10% and 20% of their professional hours to this role) work as part of the production teams and implement the approach in the field and with suppliers.

Two sessions were held in 2017 (one in France and the other in China). In addition, 12 point people learned how to train suppliers during “Toxi Day” events.

In 2017, teammates from Decathlon’s Customer Relations Centres (CRC) who handle customer relations in matters involving chemical substances also participated in these events. Their job is to ensure the quality of customer relations in the event of a complaint and they are trained to provide clear answers to any questions our users may have about chemical products.

Starting in January 2018, we will be sending the latest version of our chemical risk requirements (Restricted Substances List, RSL) to all of our suppliers for their signature. We set up a comprehensive regulatory watch throughout the year with a focus on new substances of concern and new regulatory updates.

Priority risk substances

PFCs are not a thing of the past

 The European Chemicals Agency has listed PFCs as substances of “very high concern”. Our teams working on textiles, heavy stitching and footwear processes have made considerable progress in developing PFC-free solutions. Moreover, the mountain sport division has reaffirmed its 2016 commitment to eliminate PFCs from its textile products by 2020.

Benzyl benzoate: Benzyl benzoate, which may be used to manufacture textiles, is suspected of causing adverse skin reactions. This substance has been part of our inspection plan since 2017 and we test for it during quality inspections of all textile products.

If it is detected in our textiles, we notify the supplier directly and take the necessary steps to protect our users’ health (product recall, substitution with another agent, destruction of inventory).