SB SPORT SERVICE is a long established retailer based in Switzerland. They concentrate on involving whole families as their point of difference from other retailers. Likewise staff are all long-term employees and so the connections with the customer is multifaceted. We interviewed one of their team, Yan Bosson, to hear all about their ethos.
How long has SB Sport been running and what is the history behind the store?
SB Sport Service has existed since 1988, the owners Marc and Yves Bucher bought the company at the ages of 22 and 18. The company is still independent to this day, and the will to remain independant is still intact. We have been active in the snowboard and skate market for over 30 years but also we cover skiing, mountaineering, running, cycling, football and tennis. This pleases the customers from our region very much; they can find the best brands with a high level of for both children and adults.
What is the first thing you look for in a brand when stocking new products?
We are loyal to the brands we choose; it can sometimes take a little time to introduce a new brand into our store because we want to try the products first. We primarily look at their technical characteristics, but we are also sensitive to their manufacturing process. We look for sustainable products with suppliers who can provide us with a good service as well. We sell high-end brands and products, so we want a high-end service from our suppliers as well.
You guys cover a lot of sports, what is your best performing segment right now across the board sports categories and why?
We work with the seasons. In winter snowboarding and skiing work very well, both slope and back country. We organise on-snow tests where customers can try before buying but also, we offer boot fitting, repairs and a large selection of products. In summer, wakeboarding, wake surfing, stand up paddle and surfskate work very well for the same reasons. We also organise wakeboarding camps during school holidays.
Which are your top performing brands?
Jones Snowboards works best now, but Nidecker, Yes, K2 and our local Swiss brand West Snowboards are also working well. K2 skiing and snowboarding is our biggest supplier.
Are you noticing any new trends in terms of consumers purchasing habits during the current cost of living crisis?
We had very strong demand during the Covid period and then a marked drop in visits to the shop since spring 2022. This continued during winter 22/23 especially with splitboards. We have a high demand for rental among children and adults; in terms of sales, it’s quieter among men under 30 years old, but rather good among young women between 20 and 30 years old.
What percentage of sales are from online business compared to your bricks-and-mortar sales and why?
We do not sell on the internet, 100% of our sales are made in the store. We believe that our place in the market is local, we rely on customer services that we strive to move forward. We rely on loyal employers who are very dynamic and motivated to give the best possible service. We benefit in our region from Swiss and international clientele who like to spend time in the store and get advice from a competent team. The possibility of having contact with a physical person also reassures the customer.
900m2 of floorspace in store certainly leaves room for new products, what have you guys got in store in terms of new brands/products for this season?
We remain loyal to our current partners; we will continue our progress with the Nidecker group who are based 5 kilometers from our store. We have enjoyed a long collaboration with the Nidecker family for more than 30 years. We like human contact with our customers but also with our suppliers. Today, the Nidecker Group is managed by the 3 young Nidecker brothers who bring a lot of dynamism and development. The fact that they are in the village next door further strengthens these ties. We have a permanent test center with Nidecker, Jones, Yes and Now that helps us drive our sales.
SB Sport run a lot of sports camps for children, can you tell us a bit more about them, why you run them and if there are any future snowboard camps planned?
We have been organising camps for 25 years, we have chosen to invest in sports activities for children rather than online sales, we want to participate in the sports life of families at the local level, so we organise camps in the summer with wakeboarding, wake surfing and SUP.
You have a café attached to your shop, does this drive new revenue to the store with people who perhaps might not have been interested in coming in before?
Yes, the café is a place to hangout where customers like to return either for lunch or just to drink a coffee. This brings a diversity to our offer.