Joscha Thieringer
Joscha Thieringer

“Part of digitization is also falling on our faces three times”

Sport 2000: Günter Althaus Makes Buying Association Fit for the Digital Future

Digitization is posing major challenges for the great buying association Sport 2000. Günter Althaus, chairman of the parent company ANWR Group, has initiated several measures to remain successful in the long term. On the ISPO Digitize stage, he explains Sport 2000’s digital strategy.

Günter Althaus, CEO of ANWR Group, at the ISPO Digitize stage at the Adidas Symposium.

Can you picture making your mother into an Instagramer? With this – possibly absurd for some – thought, you get a rough impression of the challenge facing Günter Althaus. “Imagine that you had to teach a one hundred year old society how digitization works,” says the chairman of the ANWR Group, parent company of Sport 2000. You could of course leave it the same, “but we’ve decided to view digitization as an opportunity.”

Günter Althaus has prescribed a digital crash course for the corporate group, which was able to increase its business volume to 8.9 billion euros in 2017. “CEO = CDO,” the 50-year-old wrote in large font in his presentation in the ISPO Digitize area. That means: As the CEO, he also needs to be a digital pioneer in his company at the same time. “If the head of a company doesn’t understand what’s going on right now, you won’t be able to get your people behind this movement, either.”

Sport 2000 – the shopping association includes roughly 1,000 retailers with more than 1,300 sports stores – is going though an upheaval. An upheaval that some might not make it out of in one piece, something that Althaus makes very clear. Shops, suppliers, warehouses – all being forcibly sorted out everywhere.

Althaus: Cuts in ANWR Group and Sport 2000

Althaus the extent of this using the figures for the ANWR Group: “We currently have roughly 10,000 stores, and I’m expecting 4,000 in five years,” the former business consultant says. “We recently closed 600 stores. And this development is going to continue, because oversupply is reigning. I have to say it harshly: because some stores don’t have a right to exist.”

200 suppliers would probably be enough, instead of the 1,800 thus far. In the future, six stores will become one. “We can live well with that,” believes Althaus. Instead, the ANWR Group has opened new distribution channels and collaborations. Since summer 2017, the group has worked extensively with Zalando and even cooperated with eBay. “And I can announce that, in 2018, we’ll be entering into a cooperation with at least two more partners,” says Althaus. “We can’t have any enemy stereotypes.”

Althaus warns: “Don’t forget what you’re good at”

He’s fully aware that he, as the chairman, isn’t just making friends with this strategy. However, in light of the digitization hype, one thing is especially important: “With all of this change, you can’t forget what you’re good at,” he says. “Run the business, change the business.”

It’s already been quite some time since Günter Althaus worked in the banking business. But what he learned back then still determines his actions. “Retail is actually quite simple, so don’t make such a fuss!” he says to his listeners with a wink. “On the one side is a product, on the other the customer.” Althaus writes “Product” and “Customer” on his presentation and joins them with two arrows: “You need communication – and if you do that well, then we get to the transaction.”

“No sale without data”

Communication, that’s at the center of the realignment of the ANWR Group. “That’s why we’re establishing a content factory in our company, to support communication with this content, but naturally also to appeal to the customer properly,” Althaus explains. Together with software developers, a program emerged that made it possible for Sport 2000 “to approach the customer individually via the various channels.”

That’s because part of successful communication is, of course, knowing whom you’re talking to. “The core of it all is this: no data, no retail. No sale without data. You need to gather data on products, on customers – and then combine them,” says Althaus. “If you can’t combine this data, in my opinion, you won’t play any more role in retail in the future.”

In view of the digitalization hype, Günter Althaus is particularly important:"With all this change, one must not forget what one controls well. Run the business, change the business."

Digitization requires courage and perseverance

Günter Althaus has imposed a strict program on Sport 2000 to be fit for the digital future. “The most difficult step is the often-mentioned cultural change,” he says. “We believe that we can only cope with digitization if we try things out. And part of this is also falling on our faces three times. And only after that will it be really good.”

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Joscha Thieringer
Joscha Thieringer
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