A MAJOR sports retailer is preparing to open a new store at Seacourt Tower Retail Park in Oxford.

French company Decathlon – which sells equipment for more than 70 sports from running and cycling to horse riding and scuba diving — will open its doors in Botley on Thursday, May 1.

A total of 30 jobs will be created by the store, which will occupy 2,000 square metres and will be located next to Homebase.

Families, sports clubs, schools and other community groups will be encouraged to take part in a number of free sporting activities to mark the store’s arrival.

Details are yet to be announced, but these will include free swimming and sporting discovery days.

Steve Dykes, Decathlon UK managing director, said: “We’re keen to make a real contribution to the community, offering new opportunities for residents, students, families, schools and workers to get involved in sport.”

The store will incorporate dedicated showrooms for cycling, camping and fitness and experts will be available to offer advice.

Shoppers will also be able to buy equipment for sports including skiing, snowboarding and martial arts.

Michael McHale, store manager, said: “We’re recruiting for roles at the new store, from managerial posts to sales assistants, both full and part-time. I encourage anybody with a passion for sport and a healthy lifestyle to get in touch.”

Decathlon was created in 1976 near Lille, France, and is part of the Oxylane Group. Oxford will be the 15th store in the UK and worldwide there are 700 stores across 18 countries Vale of White Horse district councillor Eric Batts, ward councillor for North Hinksey and Wytham and council vice-chairman, said: “The more jobs it brings to the area the better. It is a good addition because it is something different. It is not the usual run-of-the-mill shop.

“It will attract people to the area.”

Henry Joines, Cumnor parish youth worker, runs after-school clubs with an emphasis on sport at St Andrew’s Church in Dean Court.

He said: “Something local where one can buy good sports equipment and encourage young people and families to engage with and enjoy more sport is a positive thing.”

The announcement of the new store comes as a £15m scheme to transform the retail park continues.

Work to revamp the 1980s shopping centre started in December as developers are hoping to create 150 new jobs. The scheme will create more than 5,000 sq m of extra floor space in 10 new units, but the BP petrol station will be demolished.

  • To find out more about Decathlon and jobs available visit decathlon.co.uk