Eighteen months after failing to reach agreement with Hamashbir Lazarchan, Swiss company Intersport, one of the world's largest sports retailers, which competes with Decathlon, is again trying to enter the Israeli market, sources inform "Globes."
Intersport, which has 6,200 stores in 58 countries and an €11 billion annual sales turnover, is searching for a partner in the Israeli market, and has met with senior Azrieli Group executives. Sources in the sector said that the parties were in advanced negotiations for establishing activity in Azrieli's shopping malls.
Two years ago, Intersport signed a 10-year franchise agreement with Hamashbir Lazarchan, controlled by CEO Rami Shavit. Intersport canceled the franchise agreement because of "disagreements between the parties about the timetables and activity in Israel," Hamashbir Lazarchan reported to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) at the time.
Even at that time, Azrieli Group was an important player in the efforts to reach an agreement. In 2017, senior Azrieli Malls executives toured Intersport's headquarters together with senior Hamashbir Lazarchan executives, after having agreed that Intersport's initial deployment would be in Azrieli's malls. Hamashbir planned at the time to open five 1,000-square meter stores in 2018, three of which were planned to open in Azrieli's malls. It is clear that Intersport was an attractive tenant for Azrieli. Sports departments in Hamashbir Lazarchan branches were also planned.
Substantial changes in the sector
The sector has changed substantially during the current year, however, with significant movement, including the entry of international players and the closing down of existing chains. While the plan by Hamashbir Lazarchan and Intersport has been shelved, another international sporting goods chain has taken root in Israel - French brand Decathlon, which has acquired its own territory in the market and expanded its deployment to branches in Rishon Lezion, BIG Krayot, and on Allenby Street in Tel Aviv. Decathlon is also planning to open new branches.
In addition to Decathlon, which is operating directly in Israel without a franchise, the Fox-Wizel group has brought the Foot Locker footwear chain to Israel, with massive deployment of dozens of stores. Existing players such as Adidas and Nike have also improved their deployment, opening stylish anchor stores. At the same time, veteran sports goods chain Wertheimer Sport has closed down most of its activity.
Azrieli Malls said in response, "Azrieli Group receives many queries from leading retail players around the world interested in the Israeli market. The group does not report its business moves, or its meetings with various parties, to the media."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on May 20, 2019
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