Sporting Life Group’s new CMO on leading two sport retail icons

Frederick LeCoq talks leading marketing efforts for both Golf Town and Sporting Life.

Lecoq, Frederick

On most weekends there’s a line-up of luxury SUVs trying to snag a coveted parking spot outside Sporting Life’s flagship store in midtown Toronto.

Opening in 1979, the high-end sports retailer had long been a cult favourite among affluent Torontonians when Fairfax Financial bought a majority stake in 2011. The ritzy retailer now has 11 bricks-and-mortar stores in Ontario, Alberta and Quebec. It is set to expand to Vancouver soon, with further expansion planned after that.

It is undoubtedly a brand on the rise. Golf Town, on the other hand, filed for bankruptcy and was bought by Fairfax and CI Investments in 2016. Soon after, Frederick LeCoq joined the golf retailer as VP of marketing and ecommerce from FGL Sports, where he led Sport Chek’s brand refresh. Golf Town is set to get a refresh of its own early next year, on both the digital and bricks-and-mortar sides, guided by LeCoq.

The two sports retailers, currently on very different trajectories, merged earlier this year. Though both will continue to operate under separate store banners, LeCoq will lead marketing for both as CMO of the new Sporting Life Group.

Golf-Town 1

Among the plans to turn the Golf Town ship around is a new store concept opening in Richmond, B.C., in March 2019, as well as an esports competition set to be held in stores across the country next spring.

“We believe in experience and gaming, kind of the gamification of retail. With esports, we’re changing the relationship because retail was very much transactional,” says LeCoq. “People would come in the store and look for a product and pay for a product and go back home. Now, we’re trying to make sure the relationship we build with customers is not only transactional.”

Sporting Life 1

Meanwhile, Sporting Life is making in-roads on the West Coast, with a new store set for The Amazing Brentwood mall in Vancouver, as well as in La Belle Province.

LeCoq, who hails from France and moved to the Great White North to take the FGL Sports gig, sees Quebec as a key market in 2019 and beyond.

“Sporting Life just opened there last April and I think Quebec is becoming a real battleground in that Sports Experts [formerly part of LeCoq’s remit at FGL] has a foothold there and Decathlon [a leading French sports retailer] has just opened,” he notes. “Quebec is going to be a really interesting market in the next few years as Sporting Life makes further in-roads there.”