The SIGNA Sports United Group is continuing its growth strategy and expanding its circle of shareholders to include one of the leading insurers in Germany, the R+V Insurance Group.
In the form of a capital increase, the R+V Insurance Group will take over 11.6% of the online sports platform as a financial investor. As a co-shareholder, AEON, the largest Japanese trading group, is also subscribing to the capital increase on a pro rata basis. The main shareholder SIGNA is also participating and has subscribed to new shares.
“We are delighted to have won the R+V Insurance Group, one of the largest insurance companies in Germany, as a highly renowned co-shareholder with a long-term orientation for SIGNA Sports United. The additional capital will significantly increase our strategic financial strength on our way to becoming the leading sports experience platform. Needless to say, we want to continuously differentiate ourselves from our competitors, further consolidate our sports categories internationally where this makes sense and continuously develop our ‘Inspire, Guide, Serve & Engage’ performance profile,” says Mike Özkan, representative of the main shareholder SIGNA and member of the advisory board of SIGNA Sports United.
Timm Hoeynck, Head of Portfolio Management at R+V, says: “This is an investment in an exciting and fast-growing company in a highly attractive market. We are pleased to support the strategic development of SIGNA Sports United as a long-term partner.”
Financial year marked by new co-shareholders and strategic and operational dynamism
In the last financial year, the Group opened up to further shareholders for the first time since the platform was set up by SIGNA more than three years ago. As new strategic partners, AEON from Japan and the Central Group from South/East Asia, two of the largest and most successful trading groups in Asia, acquired a stake of around 10% in the platform. And in September 2019 SIGNA Sports United won the R+V Insurance Group, a further renowned financial investor, as a shareholder. In addition to in-depth market and financial expertise, the current shareholders share a strong commitment to entrepreneurship and a long-term participation approach that harmonises perfectly with the DNA of SIGNA as the founder and main shareholder of the Sports United platform. Thanks to the strategic diversification of the shareholder base and additional growth capital, SIGNA Sports United has firm financial foundations to advance the next stage of business development in a highly attractive market.
Impressive key operative figures
Once again, the Group reported a successful financial year 2018/2019 ending 30 September 2019. The strategic levers for continued strong growth have been rolled out throughout the Group and consistently developed, enabling organic sales growth of more than 20% to be achieved once again compared with the previous year. Furthermore, the joint venture with AEON in Japan and further strategic acquisitions in Europe have laid the foundations for accelerated international growth.
This year, too, the basis for successful business development are the fundamental parameters in operational business: not only did visits to the platform increase by almost 20% to over 200 million compared with the previous year; the conversion rate also improved once again. Last but not least, while customer satisfaction remained high among the more than 3 million active platform customers, the average returns rate remained consistently low at around 19%. The key operative figures and the sustainable growth path underscore the fundamental strength of the business model of the #1 sports e-commerce platform.
Differentiation in the range of products is consistently pursued
One of the most important strategic pillars is and remains a consistent focus on customers and further verticalisation of the core categories: each of the numerous online sports shops in over 17 countries approaches customers in a way individually tailored to the different needs of the sports enthusiasts. For example, with the “Go-Bike” service the new bicycle is not only delivered directly to the customer’s door; an expert also optimally adjusts it to body measurements. Customers also benefit from a steadily growing network of more than 300 service partners in Germany and France, who can perform standardised repair and maintenance services via the Bike websites. Highly specialised customer service experts complete the offering, ensuring that all customers feel that they are in good hands throughout the purchase process.
The platform also specifically addresses the needs of the growing target group of female sports enthusiasts: in the area of team sports, this commitment was recognised as “Best Case Content and Social Media Marketing” at Nike’s annual Central Football Summit industry conference.
Synergies for efficient scaling
In the past financial year, in addition to targeted synergies in performance marketing, sustainable advantages were created for the entire Group through the introduction of a central AI-based pricing platform.
The Group’s advantages are also evident in the area of logistics: further significant cost synergies were achieved by consolidating the Team Sport, Athleisure and Outdoor product groups in a joint warehouse near Frankfurt. The consistent roll-out of standardised IT system components in the individual business areas is a further guarantee for the efficient scaling of the e-commerce platform. In future, SIGNA Sports United will continue to bundle horizontal processes to enable the individual web shops to develop even better and faster under the shared umbrella – without losing the customer focus.
World online market leader in tennis
The acquisition and integration of further sports e-commerce specialists is and will remain an integral part of the strategy. In the summer of 2019, the French market leader in online tennis retail – the TennisPro Group – was acquired. This will not only enable the share of the French market as the largest European tennis market and the neighbouring markets Italy and Spain to grow more quickly, it will also make SIGNA Sports United the #1 online tennis platform worldwide.
Piloting of new business models with partners started
Digitalisation is changing the world of sport on a lasting basis: in addition to the further development of our existing digital communities such as myTennis, which is now used by around 300,000 registered tennis enthusiasts, new innovative approaches in the fast-changing sports tech sector are decisive. To this end, the SIGNA Sports United Group uses a “Sports Experience Ecosystem” (SEE) crawler developed by the Group, which continuously monitors new digital sports business models. At present, just over 1,000 innovative companies around the world are being monitored. This results in additional opportunities and value drivers for the #1 sports e-commerce platform.
Particularly promising companies are joining SIGNA Sports United to increase their own reach and relevance for sports enthusiasts. For example, in the growing e-sport market SIGNA Sports United will be the exclusive merchandising partner for the FIFA team “Fokus Clan”, which just a few weeks ago signed the 2019 reigning world champion ‘MoAuba’. The platform acquires interests in selected sport tech companies in order to actively shape developments. This enables innovative companies such as Tracktics to scale a new technology more quickly at times when growth is decisive. In this way, SIGNA Sports United supplements its own platform offering by maximising exclusive offers and services for sports enthusiasts, clubs, associations and fans.
SIGNA Sports United Europe’s leading sports e-commerce platform
SIGNA Sports United is Europe’s leading sports e-commerce platform. In the past fiscal year, with over 200 million platform hits and over 3 million active customers, organic sales growth is over 20%, with stable margins. Under the umbrella of SIGNA Sports United, the leading online shops for bike, tennis, outdoor, team sports and athleisure are supported by a comprehensive platform for marketing, logistics, IT and business intelligence.