Picture of a DECATHLON store

Michel Leclercq and the DECATHLON foundation

DECATHLON, one of the biggest sport brand in the world, was not created by chance.
It is the culmination of a vision, that of Michel Leclercq, who was able to spot the potential of a booming market and turn it into a unique success story.

Key dates

DECATHLON is more than just a brand name. It's a real story, a human adventure that began in 1976.

Michel Leclercq's idea was to sell equipment for several sports rather than just one, so that everyone could choose their sport. With a philosophy that emphasised the quality of first price products and the accessible price of the top-of-the-range product, Leclercq had a very effective sense of business.

His other key aim is to be useful for people through sport.

Picture DECATHLON store

Michel Leclercq

"Treat your customer as if they were your best friend."

"The goal of the day is not to have made the biggest turnover, but to see our customers coming back in six months, in a year."

"It's forbidden to cheat a customer at DECATHLON."

Since 1976, DECATHLON has been driven by a single mission: to make sport accessible to all. This mission, more than just a slogan, is the very DNA of the company, guiding its choices and inspiring its actions on a daily basis.

From product innovation to international expansion, DECATHLON has marked its history with milestones that have shaped the world of sport.

Picture of DECATHLON founders

The founders

The adventure began in the parking lot of the Auchan shopping center in Englos, a town about twenty kilometers from Lille (North of France). Seven entrepreneurs were enthusiastic about Michel Leclercq's vision: Benoît, Didier, Hervé, Nicolas, Stanislas and Stéphane, all united by a shared passion for sport and contagious enthusiasm.

A small start-up was born, far from suspecting that it would soon conquer the whole world. After seducing French sportsmen and sportswomen, it's about to take the world by storm, but the gang of seven aren't quite aware of it yet.

Illustration Decathlon advertissement

Sports memories: our treasure chest

Why are we called DECATHLON?  What was the first TV ad? Have we always had the blue logo? From the slogan to the small screen, a look back at the advertising years of DECATHLON!


People are at the heart of our business and we have some simple rules: focus on what you love to do, you have the right to try, to make mistakes and to try again.

From these simple rules flow our values:
VITALITY: Being positive and full of energy.
RESPONSIBILITY: Taking charge of your life and being the driving force behind it.
AUTHENTICITY: Being true to yourself and to others.
GENEROSITY: Doing things from the heart and looking out for others.

In an interview in 2022, Michel Leclercq explained how the DECATHLON values came about:

"I had read a book,
Le prix de l'excellence, which ended with the idea that the great companies that had succeeded had certain characteristics, including having a why, having a meaning that was easily stated and that everyone knew.

The team and I went to Mont Saint Aubert, behind Tournai in Belgium, to think about this, 10 or 15 years after DECATHLON was founded. At the time, there was a meeting room there with a beautiful view. I like to have meetings when you can see a long way: it gives you a bird's eye view and a sense of perspective when you're taking a break. At Mont Saint Aubert, you can see the city of Tournai, but at Mont des Cats, at Mont Cassel, you can see the mine slag heaps... it encourages you to look up.

And so we worked on the reasons for DECATHLON. Everyone wrote down words on a piece of paper. We then grouped these words by affinity. And we came up with a title for them.
There was sport, fitness, running... which translated into VITALITY.
There was truth, in that order.
And responsible.

We then gradually evolved them, to eventually keep just two. In between, we also changed "true" to "sincere". True is a statement. And a truth is often relative: what is true for one person is not necessarily true for another... Whereas sincere, or authentic, says something else.

For me, the two most important values are Generous and Responsible, the most original in the capitalist system. This "and" is important.

Our story

Values of yesterday... and today

In a 1991 editorial by Michel Leclercq, it was stated that there were 6 values, which has since evolved...

However, certain pillars were already present:

"What we seek to live each day, are our 6 values: Vitality - Pleasure - Fraternal - Nature - True - Responsible.
What we seek to do each day, are our 6 entrepreneurial wills:
1) Satisfied sportsmen, that's my job!
2) A true company.
3) The enrichment of man through responsibility.
4) High-performance and profitable teams.
5) An international company in creation.
6) Acting with nature."

Our story

Environmental challenges

As a global company, DECATHLON has environmental, societal and social impacts. Climate, biodiversity, plastic pollution... we are aware of the issues and work every day to find a balance between our historic business model and the need to accelerate our environmental transition.

To find out more about DECATHLON

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.


Distribution : our commitments around the world

DECATHLON is committed to reducing its environmental impact on a worldwide scale. To get there, our teams have identified two key areas: renewable energy and transport. Here are our measures and goals for the coming years

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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.

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?

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Our magazine Sustainability

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