The branch of sports retail offers exciting future prospects for young people who are enthusiastic about the world of sports. The new generation of retailers, Andreas Strobl (24) from Austria and SPORT 2000 Store Manager Matthieu Peron (33) from France, seized this opportunity and are still burning for their professional careers today. With SPORT 2000 they talked about their different paths into sports retail, their daily challenges and what new opportunities the future holds for them.
SPORT 2000: Andreas and Matthieu, why did you decide to work in sports retail?
Andreas Strobl: It was by no means planned that my professional path would lead me to sports retail. I actually wanted to do an apprenticeship as a carpenter. On the recommendation of my parents. However, I also considered the job of selling sporting goods. I got the chance to work at SPORT 2000 Kendlbacher in Salzburg for a week to get a taste of the everyday work. In these first eventful days, the whole team placed great trust in me and I was already allowed to sell some items myself and assemble new bikes. From that moment on it, was clear to me that selling sporting goods and, above all, servicing bicycles and skis is my absolute dream job. The great working atmosphere and the solidarity in the team motivated me to complete an apprenticeship at SPORT 2000 Kendlbacher.
Matthieu: From a young age on I knew that sports retail was made for me. While other children dreamed of flying into space as astronauts, I wanted to be the manager of a sports store. After my studies and a few months in Paris, I finally fulfilled this dream. Following extensive discussions, I bought SPORT 2000 ALES – a well-known sports store in my hometown – and thus became part of the SPORT 2000 family.
Which qualities and characteristics do you need, if you want to work in sports retail?
Andreas: Flexibility and adaptability are two essential prerequisites for being able to enjoy this profession. In a sports retail store, which, as in my case, is in a tourist region, you must be aware of the seasonal operations. This has the advantage of being able to pursue more varied activities, because depending on the season, different focuses arise in sales and service. At the same time, closing the store in the evening does not always mean the end of your workday, as service work just begins then. On the plus side, the seasonal work is financially very lucrative. When working with clients, you should have an open, polite and friendly demeanour. And even when the apprenticeship is over – you never stop learning in sports retail. New, interesting trainings await you at regular intervals.
Matthieu: I fully agree with Andreas – versatility is essential in the sports industry. If you are also aiming to manage a sports retail shop, then you will need to master other qualities such as personnel management and accounting. Regardless of the position, optimism and perseverance – even in difficult times – always bring you forward.
How does your regular working day look like?
Matthieu: Due to the growth of our group in France to four SPORT 2000 stores, none of my working days is the same as the other. I spend most of my time in the office with the entire back office team. Together we take care of purchasing, business optimization, accounting and the general management of our stores. The daily teamwork is what I love most about my job.
Andreas: I start my day in the store at 8:30 a.m. before the first customers enter a short time later. Then my colleagues and I advise and help them to find the right equipment they really need. If the rush of customers isn’t too big, I spend a lot of time repairing, servicing or assembling skis and bikes, depending on the season. A normal working day ends at 6 p.m. after the almost 70 rental bikes have been charged and cleaned, or, in winter, at 8 p.m. at the latest after the customer’s skis have been delivered.
What challenges do you face every day at work and how do you manage them?
Matthieu: Every day brings new challenges that we encounter on different levels – be it in the store itself or in management. For me as the store manager, it is essential to support my team in coping with these challenges as well as mastering them together. This collaborative work as a team is the key to success in this industry.
Andreas: One of the greatest challenges is to always advise unfriendly customers in a friendly and courteous manner despite everything. The always positive handling of customer complaints also challenges us. Fortunately, both cases are the exception rather than the rule. I also learned not to let the stress and time pressure – especially in winter – get me down.
To what extent have you developed on a personal level while working in sports retail?
Andreas: Through the years in sales, I have become more confident, courteous and relaxed in dealing with our customers. Since I speak a lot of English with them, I have also improved my language skills a lot.
Matthieu: Due to my diversified working days and the constant expansion of our stores, I keep growing beyond myself. To this day I have learned a lot from my SPORT 2000 colleagues and I still do.
Are there any special events or moments in your previous time at SPORT 2000 that you’ll specifically remember?
Andreas: On my first day of training, I had a conversation with my very first customer and told her that this was my first day at work. The woman has been coming to me as a regular customer to this day, for over six years. That makes me happy and confirms me in my daily work.
Matthieu: A recent experience is the opening of our new store. We opened the doors three days before the France-wide Corona lockdown, which was of course a disaster at first. The entire team has achieved incredible things during this time and made the best of the situation. I will remember that for a long time.
What are your plans for the future?
Andreas: I am very satisfied with the current work situation. I’m curious what new product developments there will be in the sports retail in the future. As long as free time, future family and work can be reconciled, I definitely want to continue doing this job.
Matthieu: I would like to continue to make my contribution to further develop SPORT 2000, open new locations and embrace new partnerships with brands.
Final words with Andreas Strobl
I am… happy at home, while traveling, but also at work.
In my spare time… I love spending time with my girlfriend Marina doing sports or simply enjoying a relaxing day at home.
My favorite sport is… working out at home with my girlfriend.
My favorite athlete is… Sebastian Vettel, Formula 1 Ferrari driver
For my customers… I’m looking for what they really need and not what they want.
Final words with Matthieu Peron
I am … demanding of myself
In my spare time… I play sports. It keeps me going and is my daily escape.
My favorite sport is… Cycling
My favorite athlete is… the French triathlete Vincent Luis
For my customers… I make sure, that their satisfaction stands above all.
Photo credits cover: SPORT 2000 Austria/Stefan Leitner