Companies

Fitness boom will spur Adidas sales, says MD

VINAY KAMATH R RAVIKUMAR Chennai | Updated on November 25, 2017

Erick Haskell. Bijoy Ghosh

Will aim to expand the overall market for sportswear and fitness in India

Whenever Erick Haskell enters a room, his eyes immediately gravitate to people’s feet, to see what brand of shoes they are wearing.

As Managing Director of Adidas India, which owns Reebok as well, it’s his business to see that more people are shod in these brands. “It is an instinct I have developed to observe the footwear and apparel preferences of people I meet or interact with every day,” he says.

With these two brands hogging the lion’s share of the premium organised fitness and sports footwear market, Haskell is more than upbeat: “I’m lucky to be in this business as India is at a very nascent stage and demographically well set to grow and there is an increasing awareness of health and fitness which will help my industry,” explains Haskell, a marathon runner himself who travels everywhere in his running shoes.

Price and performance

Haskell explains that Adidas is expanding both the top brands in distinct ways though there are bound to be overlaps in terms of price and performance in the shoes. While Adidas is a pure sports brand with specific shoes for different sports such as basketball, cricket, tennis and so on, Reebok has been developed as a fitness brand.

Haskell elaborates on the distinction. Reebok, for instance, has kicked off something called a Reebok running squad, where runners are invited every weekend for a run.

During this, Reebok trainers advise the runners. Started in Delhi, this squad concept has spread to 26 locations across eight cities. “There are many examples where we have set up opportunities for average citizens to come out and participate. My learning over the last 10 years is that if you provide a venue and some sort of training, people will come out and take part,” says Haskell.

Fitness with Reebok

What’s got Haskell excited is the new Reebok fitness studio on Linking Road, Mumbai. “We are very involved in people’s everyday fitness,” he points out. In the studio, various activities such as fitness dance, yoga and aerobics are held.

It plans to introduce many other fitness-related activities such as SH’BAM (a dance work out), Pilates, body balance, body combat and so on. Customers who buy a Reebok product can attend a few trial classes free of cost or pay up ₹5,000 a month.

Haskell says that with changing market dynamics it would be difficult to forecast an exact market size number. “However, our aim is to play a lead role in growing the overall market for sportswear and fitness in India and within that maintain or grow our share for both brands,” he explains. Adidas and Reebok are half the market for premium sportswear and the brands have been growing at around 20 per cent year on year.

Adidas is the bigger brand with around 600 stores while Reebok has 300. “When I first came to India, I was told repeatedly it’s all about cricket. But, it’s nice to see that changing, especially amongst the youth. You have cities like Chennai where tennis plays an important role. It’s exciting that Indians are broadening their horizon to include other sports,” says Haskell.

Published on September 17, 2014

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