TRANSFORMING IDEAS INTO REALITY

Sports Direct

Sports Direct logo

Sports Direct

Founded as a single store in 1982, Sports Direct International plc is today the UK’s largest sporting goods retailer by revenue. The Group operates a diversified portfolio of sports, fitness, fashion and lifestyle fascias in over 20 countries.

Growth and Online



Trading across five business segments: UK Sports Retail, European Sports Retail, Premium Lifestyle, Rest of World Retail, and Wholesale & Licensing (formerly Brands).

This impressive growth record had caused increasing complexity and data volumes that the legacy systems simply could not keep pace with, as well as strong online performance which enabled a broader range than ever before to be stocked

What was the objective?

The business had struggled to keep the amount of product ordered at an appropriate level of stock, individual buyers all planned independently across individual time frames each trying to maximise their own areas of the business, this led to an over-buying situation.

It was difficult to process the data to understand which areas had been overbought, and how to correct the problem once it gradually became known.

The business had tried many alternatives to solve the problem, processes were in place, but they were too laborious to calculate using the in house developed legacy systems, and not accurate enough. The Stock volume simply did not fit into the stores and warehouses causing increased discounting.

What was the solution?

Using the scalability and power of IBM Planning Analytics, and harvesting historic trading patterns across a number of years, the team was able to begin to reliably predict demand across a vast range of product classes, for different price points, even for different genders and age ranges of customers, and adjust for seasonal anomalies.

This provided some interesting actionable insights as a by-product e.g. Childrens Premium Branded Clothing having a more pronounced uplift at Christmas, obvious when you know it right? Customers choose higher priced products for Christmas presents, prior to that the business classed these products as over performing and ordered even more.

What was the outcome?

The powerful, connected plans, variance analysis and web based reporting allowed the impacts of overbuying to be identified easily and suitable corrective action taken.

Improved predictions and more reliable monitoring quickly gained trust and the solution was rolled out to the wider business

There was a massive reduction in stock holding by £100m, freeing up working capital and easing operational capacity problems.