In the heart of the village of B’Twin Decathlon in Lille


What does the heart of the French favorite brand’s reactor look like (according to the Ifop rankings, which has made Decathlon a leader for three years)? Here in Lille, a quarter of an hour from the station, you’ll encounter workers riding electric scooters, then quickly lose sight of them in the folds of a massive site over 500 meters long (not far from 185,000 m²). Kind of a start-up but giant, mineral, industrial, home to a Seita tobacco factory in the 1960s.

Here you’ll catch up every five minutes, have a quick lunch in one of the cafeterias, have it done when you bring your tray back. On the shelves of the 8,000 m2 sales area (fifth store in France), you will hear “teammates” (1,300 employees) getting familiar with each other, “controlling” their fists. You will also see many of them wearing their gym clothes at noon. Best-in-class bike brand Van Rysel set off with a small peloton ranging from three quarters of an hour to an hour; others use the ping pong tables at the entrance, some organize football tournaments, relax in the skate park, return to the fitness room.

It should be noted that 60% of Decathlon’s 94,000 employees worldwide are young people under the age of 30 (2021), who have the family spirit of a brand that is present in 70 countries (1700 stores), who transcend themselves and have a culture of sporting values.

“The sports section allows you to choose more finely, even if it means going to exploration areas”

The site has everything, everything for those with “blue blood” running through their veins. In this vast space, all the research and development skills of the Decathlon brand, which belonged to the Mulliez galaxy (Auchan, Leroy Merlin, Kiabi, etc.) in 1976, are concentrated. “To deliver the pleasure and benefit of doing sports to as many people as possible”. All there, a few villages within the village as you walk through each door: “All skills under one roof”says Aurélien Corbier, 39, head of thermal laboratory and textile innovation.

He’s a Decathlon “baby”. Married, three children. He came to the textile industry as a component and technology engineer (ICT) in 2007, after studying a general engineering and dual university course and elite sports at UTC in Compiègne. He trained a lot with Angevin Olympic medalist Julien Bahain, who has several national championships.

He later became the innovation manager of the textile division. Later, he worked as a technical director in the bicycle accessories department for four years. He then worked as an engineer for the Triban brand and gravel development for two years. The experience ended in Pininfarina.

We move a lot at Decathlon, we can develop very quickly and very young. About half of the executives also started signing in favor of small contracts. “The sports section allows you to choose more finely, even if it means going on an adventure in lands of discovery. Van Rysel…

“Every brand is a magical promise”: in the heart of Decathlon’s B’Twin village in Lille