Sports & Leisure

Freelander's and Citabel in strategic merger

On the left, Yvette Kapp, Alex Kapp and Isabelle Kapp from Freelander's, on the right, Claude Wagner and Louis Wagner drive Citabel. (Photo: Freelander's & Citabel)

On the left, Yvette Kapp, Alex Kapp and Isabelle Kapp from Freelander's, on the right, Claude Wagner and Louis Wagner drive Citabel. (Photo: Freelander's & Citabel)

Citabel and Freelander's, the two Luxembourg-based sports and leisure retailers, have announced a strategic merger that is expected to take place in 2022.

Both retailers want to increase their market share by joining forces in a strategic partnership that should materialise as early as next year, the two sports retailers have announced. 

Freelander's remains affiliated to the Sport 2000 network, while Citabel belongs to Wagner, a Luxembourg multi-entrepreneur that also runs the three Intersport outlets in Luxembourg as well as Batipro Matériaux and the Bâtiself DIY shops.

"We are ready to take these two brands to the next level,” said Alex Kapp, founder and shareholder of Freelander's, in a press release.

In practice, both players intend to keep their own identity and positioning: Citabel specialises in running, football, athletics, winter sports, golf and horse riding, while Freelander's focuses on fitness and outdoor activities.

We intend to be a multi-brand group.

Alex Kappfounder and shareholder of the Freelander's group

"This merger will consist of combining our strengths in terms of purchasing, sales strategies and e-commerce, but we will keep the brands separate and we believe that our customers will also benefit from this alliance," explains Claude Wagner, head of Citabel and Intersport. "In fact, we intend to form a multi-brand group," says Kapp.

Resilient companies

The commercial merger also affects the shareholding structure, but no details of this have yet been communicated or been recorded in the commercial register of the two companies. For the financial year 2020, Citabel Sports reported a stable result of €222,000, while Freelander's Sportsfashion reported a result of €1m, a 29-fold increase over one year.

"We have resisted well because we have worked well, we have been reactive in our marketing and we have offered exclusives to differentiate ourselves,” comments Kapp. But faced with the development of e-commerce, which is breaking down the boundaries of commerce, the two Luxembourg brands intend to join forces to perform better. "We want to remain the benchmark for sports in terms of quality and service in Luxembourg, while maintaining a local identity specific to the two brands," adds the manager.

Freelander's has six points of sale in Luxembourg, divided between the Freelander's and Jack Wolfskin brands. They are located at the Belle Etoile, the City Concorde, the Shopping Center Massen and in Mersch, where the family business founded in 1989 is based.

Citabel has four specialised sales outlets (Sports, Golf, Horse and Urban Move) located in Leudelange, Howald and Kirchberg.

This story was first published in French on Paperjam. It has been translated and edited for Delano.