Picture of the founders of Decathlon

DECATHLON's founders: the gang of Michel Leclercq

In pictures : The famous “À Fond La Forme” (Keeping fit!) t-shirt worn by the management team.

In 1975, Michel Leclercq has an idea. He doesn't know it yet, but it's going to revolutionise the world of sport and retailing. He's 35 years old and is cutting loose from Auchan, a family-run business, where he works in IT. His dream is to see a big store with just sport in it. A place where sportsmen and women, whether they play football or go running, could kit themselves out at an affordable price. This type of store didn't exist in those days. Not yet ...

Selling sport, but not just one sport

The idea of going it alone was always in Michel Leclercq's mind, but he had to do it without competing with his uncle (Gérard Mulliez, the founding chairman of Auchan). He found the solution by walking around the large shopping areas that were fashionable in the 70s, where he noticed that they sold everything... except sport. His idea? Not to sell equipment for ONE sport, but equipment for SEVERAL sports, so that customers could choose their discipline. 

From his uncle, an entrepreneur and visionary, he learned early on to respect people and his customers. He was guided by good agricultural sense and effective marketing sense: "we highlight the quality of the cheapest product and the low price of the top-of-the-range product! All sports, under the same roof, accessible and available, with good humour to boot... The DECATHLON concept was born.

Picture of the founders

“You've got an idea, i've got one, we've got three. let's do it !” Michel Leclercq

Michel Leclercq surrounds himself with 6 teammates, which he recruits within a week. Didier Decramer, Stéphane Delesalle, Nicolas Dubrulle, Stanislas Ernoult, Hervé Valentin, Benoit Poizat and Michel Leclercq form a motivated team. Even if some are inexperienced in the retailing sector, they've got two things in common: determination and passion for sport. When they are not working, they do sports together: football, skiing, cycling, sailing, field hockey and plenty of other sports!

No rules are set out. Everything has to be built from scratch, and the new teammates are the builders. They started with a blank sheet of paper when thinking through DECATHLON's strategy. Michel Leclercq trusts them, giving them free rein to take initiative. What matters is their drive, regardless of their lack of retail experience. It's an innovative style of management, built on trust, that's still part of our DNA.

Some of the founders: Didier, Stéphane, Hervé, Benoit, Stanislas, Michel. Nicolas isn't in the picture.

DECATHLON in 4 questions

In this video you will find an interview with a DECATHLON pioneer : Benoît POIZAT

If DECATHLON were a colour?
I would spontaneously say blue. Why the blue we chose? Because it was a pure blue, a process blue. We weren't going to say ‘blue with a bit of green, with a bit of... no. A process blue.

If DECATHLON was a car?

In 76, I would have said a Rancho, a Simca loisirs, a bit off-road... Today it would be a Mehari. A multi-purpose car that can be used for outdoor activities.

If DECATHLON were a book?

A book by Stéphane de Groodt, which shows that we had fun playing, just as Stéphane de Groodt's books are full of puns. It's not everyone's pleasure, but it's the game... Just as we didn't take the company seriously.

If DECATHLON were a product?

A bike. Because it's through bicycles that this company has developed its brand. And it's the whole adventure that followed. It is thanks to the bicycle, perhaps, that DECATHLON is what it is today.

We keep telling you the story ?

Picture running track

Decathlon's story - our key dates

DECATHLON is a long story about sports, products, and especially, women and men. Read all about it here!

Picture of a DECATHLON store

Our story

What is the story of DECATHLON? The key dates? who are the founders? How was DECATHLON born? the stages of DECATHLON communication?


DECATHLON stores: small and large blue boxes

Zoom sur les dates clés des évolutions de nos magasins DECATHLON

Illustration de sportifs: coureurs, randonneurs et cyclistes

DECATHLON does it comm !

From the slogan to the small screen, a look back at the DECATHLON advertising years !

What action plan is needed to reduce absolute CO2 eq emissions?

What action plan is needed to reduce absolute CO2 eq emissions?

DECATHLON commits to reduce absolute scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions 42% by 2030 from a 2021 base year. Decathlon also commits to reduce absolute scope 3 GHG emissions 42% within the same timeframe.

Picture of white bobbins in a warehouse

Is it possible to produce on a large scale while being "green"?

Like the rest of the economy, the textile sector must accelerate its ecological transition. But is this compatible with mass production?

Picture of people hiking in the moutains

Our magazine Sustainability

Plastic pollution in the oceans, wood manufacturing, the notion of sustainability... Sustainable development is indeed the business of many subjects!

Picture hockey player

DECATHLON joins the European Union's Sustainable Consumption Pledge

This "pledge" is a new initiative aimed at encouraging buying habits in a more sustainable way.