Equipment for an active lifestyle: Stadium stores, and increasingly its online shops, offer sports enthusiasts everything they need
Photos: Stefan Nilsson
The stylized running track begins before you even get to the entrance. “I also like to go running,” says Daniel Johansson, looking down wistfully at the distinctive floor markings that extend through the Stadium store in the Ingelsta shopping mall in the Swedish city of Norrköping. “But most of my free time is spent driving my three daughters to their training sessions.” Despite Johannson missing out, his family exemplifies the kind of lifestyle being championed by his employer, Sweden’s largest sports goods retailer. The company’s mission is to inspire as many people as possible to live an active life.
And it is Daniel Johansson’s task to provide the appropriate equipment for this kind of lifestyle: anything from running shoes to tennis rackets and trekking backpacks. As Stadium’s Logistics Director, the 40-year-old is in charge of ensuring that the company’s online shop and its approximately 170 stores – most of which are based in the domestic market, with some in Finland and Germany – are kept stocked with well-known global brands as well as with numerous products from the company’s own private labels.
Before the goods arrive in Sweden, they have already covered a distance of several thousand kilometers owing to the fact that, for the most part, they are manufactured in Asia. Stadium has suppliers in China, Vietnam and Indonesia but also in Bangladesh and Thailand. The goods are imported to Norrköping via ocean freight. The city, which is some 160 kilometers southwest of Stockholm, is home to the company’s headquarters and its central warehouse, both of which are only a few kilometers from the store with the stylized running track.
DB Schenker is responsible for transporting a large volume of the imports that end up in this warehouse. “The company is our exclusive forwarder for all our own brands,” says Daniel Johansson. The Logistics Director’s key contact person is Lasse Widfeldt, who explains that DB Schenker also imports products manufactured by well-known brands that Stadium sells as special editions. “In total, we have an annual transport volume of around 2,000 TEU.” The last mile from the port to the warehouse is covered by truck.
Stadium’s founders are the brothers Ulf and Bo Eklöf, who opened their first store under this name in 1987. By the mid-2000s the retail chain had grown to around 60 branches. They now number around 170, several of which are outlets. This year, the company launched Sneakers Point, and by the end of September 2018 there were four stores. In addition, the company organizes the “Stadium Sports Camp” for children and adolescents. The Stadium Group employs around 3,800 people and in the 2016/17 business year achieved sales of SEK 5.3 billion (around € 500 million; USD 580 million). Following the withdrawal of the Ikano Group, which currently holds a share ownership of almost 27 percent, Stadium will once again be 100 percent privately owned by the two founders and their families as of April 2019.
The “nerve center” at the heart of all these operations is the order management system that DB Schenker has made available to the retailer. The orders are transmitted directly to the suppliers. Very often, DB Schenker also handles the transfer of goods from the suppliers’ factories in Asia to the ports. “This involves working very closely with our colleagues in the respective countries,” says Lasse Widfeldt. The most important port of origin is Xiamen in southern China, a city whose catchment area is home to numerous of Stadium’s suppliers. In total, the containers, which are shipped from 20 different ports, spend an average of 35 days completing their long ocean voyage.
The key challenge behind this logistical operation is that the containers have to arrive dead on time. “Swimwear that gets here in October is no use to anyone,” says Widfeldt. “And whenever Stadium launches an advertising campaign, we also need to ensure that the products are readily available and in sufficient quantities.”
The key account manager and his team are, however, prepared to make alternative arrangements at short notice if it comes to the worst. “Last year, a few of the ships were so delayed that the containers had to be unloaded as soon as they arrived in Rotterdam.” In critical situations, when there is no time to wait for the next ship, the team organizes a truck shuttle service.
In extremely urgent cases, DB Schenker always has the option of switching consignments to air freight. “But that only happens very rarely. Stadium can rightly be proud of its purchasing agents, who all work in a very professional manner,” says Lasse Widfeldt, who has four decades of experience in ocean freight under his belt. Daniel Johansson explains that the importance of logistics has risen steadily at the company over the past few years: “There was a time when our ‘warehouse management system’ consisted of a handwritten memo pad. Nowadays, we are testing RFID chips to keep an eye on our inventory.” And with a strong service provider to handle inbound logistics.
Daniel Johansson points out that DB Schenker’s job entails far more than merely ensuring the smooth flow of goods to the warehouse every day. “At the same time, and I really appreciate that, they push us to continually improve our supply chain. For example, with respect to our choice of ports or to the question of where our shipments could best be consolidated.” In his eyes that is what makes DB Schenker a “very good sparring partner” – one who is also involved in realizing Stadium’s vision of inspiring as many people as possible to live an active life.
What used to be a tiny warehouse is now “70,000 square meters of logistics power”: Stadium transships all its goods at a logistics center in Norrköping, the company’s headquarters. DB Schenker ensures that goods are steadily replenished via ocean freight
Photos: Stefan Nilsson