ACT GHENT – City Project to boost intrapreneurship and become future-proof


Belgium | Ghent

Reading time: 6 minutes


By Ceci Yip

Inspired by the previous Vision, Decathlon Ghent started the human transformation in 2016. Hierarchy has been reshaped to network, and Decathlonians have evolved from working for a job to a role based on their talents. After Vision 21.1 has been written, the city project Act Ghent came along as a bridge between the Vision and the daily operations, as well as an accelerator of actions. 

4 project pillars

The project consists of 4 pillars to transform humans and the business model. They include “Marketplace Out”, “Marketplace In”, “Act in Store” and “Positive Impact”. 

“Marketplace Out” encourages Decathlonians to think outside of the stores, of how they can draw the closed Decathlon network to an open living ecosystem in Ghent. “Marketplace In” refers to transforming the stores from being a place of sale to a place of living and sports. “Act in Store” are the store projects to keep improving Decathlon’s fundamentals. “Positive Impact” relates to the values created for the society and planet. For every new idea generated and translated in actions, it has to serve one of these 4 pillars.

Invest in human

The Vision has helped Decathlonians in Ghent to open up their minds and generate ideas, and then the Act Ghent project serves to converge and concretise the ideas to actions. In order to act faster, the team has abandoned the conventional way of project creation and uphold the start-up mentality. They are obliged to think out of the box, embrace uncertainty, communicate transparently, test and try consistently.

In the past, investing in a project meant putting in time and money. Now, the team values more the investment in humans. For those who have the ideas and passions, they have a safe environment to dare, take actions and make mistakes. Personal guidance is provided along the exploration like a “mirror” to accompany the development and reflect the learnings.

Act Magazine

Great ideas and actions are captured and communicated by the Act Magazine. It is a bimonthly local magazine containing the updates of the stores and the new projects in Ghent. The first publication was issued in March 2020. Readers of the magazine can also contribute new ideas and vote for the best ideas.

The top 3 projects are summarised as follows:

1. Ghent South – Click and Connect
The current Decathlon stores are only present in the north of the city, and finally the team decided to set foot in the south. The Ghent South store is under construction with 2 major concepts: providing top customer service and testing the future business model. Physical sales will be accompanied by services such as bike training, nutritional advice and sports dietitians, in collaboration with local partners.

2. Ghent Partnerships
The team wants to build a living ecosystem with sustainable partnerships as they believe that sport will become more accessible by maximising the strengths of different partners. A diverse network has been built containing 25 partners but everyone shares the same goal: a healthy Ghent with healthy Gentenaren (inhabitants of Ghent). They develop cross communication and promotion of the products and services to enhance a comprehensive ecosystem for the customers.

3. We Play Circular
The future is up to the subscriptions. The intention of this project is to become the Spotify of sport. Users can pay a monthly subscription fee to share and (re)use the Decathlon products without limit. As a result, they will have a better view of their annual expenses on sports and Decathlon will be committed to reusing products.

Act for a better future

The Act Ghent project is a leading example of Local Living. With the inclusive partner network, people living in the city will have more time to do sports and enjoy life. For example, they can find the Aptonia food from Decathlon while consulting their sports dietists. On the other hand, they can get a training schedule for a marathon from the partner working at the Decathlon store. Products and services related to health and sports will be found seamlessly whenever and wherever the customers want.

“I think it’s our role as leaders to unleash the energy of the people that are already there and make sure they can perform their talents. Decathlonians in Ghent will have more fun and a more future proof way of doing business, and will eventually create new ways of working together. If we know and live our purpose, mission, vision and values everyday, all we need is trust, transparency and audacity, and it will be alright.”


“For me, Act Ghent is creating a new mindset of working. A mindset where everyone can ACT within an environment where they feel trust of their teammates. Act Ghent allows us to explore new opportunities, to dare to do something different and to connect with our city and its stakeholders. With our purpose and vision as guidelines, I fully trust we are making our playground a better place.”


Project initiators


Co-leader of ACT Ghent & Project Leader at Decathlon Belgium

Joris Mareen


Co-leader of Decathlon Ghent and Act Ghent