Indian Economy News

Japan's sportswear brand ASICS opens first standalone store in India

New Delhi: What’s common to Bruce Lee, Barack Obama and the Australian cricket team? ASICS sports shoes, made by the Kobe, Japan-based shoe and apparel maker.

Martial artist Lee wore them in one of his movies in 1970. US President Obama was photographed wearing them recently. The latest to be spotted with ASICS was the Australian cricket team in the final match of the Cricket World Cup 2015.

On Wednesday, ASICS Corp. opened its first store in India—a 670 sq. ft stand-alone outlet at a mall in south Delhi.

ASICS, which reported 329.5 billion yen (around Rs.17,135 crore today) revenue in fiscal year 2014, actually entered India in 2010 with an exclusive distribution agreement with Reliance Retail, which at present has over 1,700 stores across the country.

“We had a five-year agreement with Reliance Retail, and we did not want to renew the alliance. The market has matured, and we have a much better understanding about the Indian sports shoes market, which is worth about $1 billion,” said Rajat Khurana, director at ASICS India Pvt. Ltd.

The world’s fourth largest sports-goods maker that is present in more than 150 countries, ASICS set up its Indian subsidiary last year, which will operate as the wholesale distributor. The company intends to establish independent presence through mono-brand stores. ASICS stores will be operated and managed by franchisees, but the company will not have a master franchisee in India, said Khurana.

“Over the next 18 months, we would have our exclusive outlets across top 10 Indian cities, with one or two outlets in each city. Over the next three years, sales should treble,” said Khurana.

This being the first store, the company is yet to gauge revenues from the Indian operations.

ASICS, which was founded in 1949, is known for its high-performance sports shoes and is popular among professional and marathon runners.

“Running will remain a focus here. Like we have sponsored New York Marathon, Paris Marathon and Tokyo Marathon, we’ve started with the Mumbai Marathon in India earlier this year. We’ll look at other marathons in India soon,” said Khurana.

Over a period of time, ASICS will also explore sponsoring cricket, tennis and hockey in India, he added.

ASICS performance shoes cost Rs.5,000 to Rs.12,500 a pair.

Apart from its branded stores, ASICS shoes and apparel will also be available across multi-brand outlets including Reliance Retail stores, and on e-commerce websites.

But the focus will be on establishing branded stores in India, said Khurana.

The company is also exploring to tap neighbouring markets, such as Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, from the Indian subsidiary.

The sports shoe and apparel market in India is dominated by Reebok, Adidas AG, Nike Inc. and Puma SE as early entrants. Reebok and Adidas were the first entrants in 1995. They were followed by Nike in 1996, though the company set up its Indian subsidiary only in 2004. Puma entered India in 2005.

A report titled Sportswear market in India 2015 by IMAGES F&R Research estimates India’s active sportswear market (including sports footwear, apparel and accessories) at Rs.6,000 crore, growing at 13% year-on-year.

Disclaimer: This information has been collected through secondary research and IBEF is not responsible for any errors in the same.