No one knows India’s sportswear segment better than Abhishek Ganguly, the outgoing Managing Director for India and South East Asia of German sportswear brand PUMA. Under his watch, PUMA became the leading sportswear brand in India, outdoing its peers by clocking revenues of ₹2,980 crore in CY22, a 46 per cent growth of its CY21 revenues, and living up to its tag line of Forever Faster.
Now Ganguly has decided to take the entrepreneurial plunge. The IIM Lucknow alumnus is floating a new venture called Agilitas Sports along with Atul Bajaj, the outgoing Executive Director – Sales and Operations of PUMA India, and Amit Prabhu, the outgoing Chief Financial Officer of PUMA India. The sportswear and athleisure solutions platform will work across the value chain of sports clothing and footwear in India. The founders have raised ₹430 crore in a round led by Convergent Finance LLP, an investment management and advisory partnership led by Harsha Raghavan.
Agilitas Sports will focus on end-to-end integration from the factory to retail shelves. It will also focus on investing in digital assets. This venture comes at a time when the Make-in-India movement has been gaining ground and global supply chains are looking at alternatives to China.
Ganguly has really earned his stripes in the sportswear category, starting off with Reebok. He joined Puma India in 2005 as the Director-Sales and Marketing and was the second employee hired in India by the sportswear major, rising through the ranks rapidly. He was appointed the Managing Director for Puma India in 2014. In 2020, he was elevated to a global role and has been overseeing additional 11 markets in South East Asia including Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore and Philippines.
PUMA India has been pushing itself strongly in the Indian market, investing heavily on digital platforms, launching its own shopping app and webstore. It has also been highly visible inking key deals with brand ambassadors across sports such as Virat Kohli, Sunil Chettri and MC Mary Kom.
In an interaction with businessline in March, Ganguly pointed out that the sportswear category has been witnessing rapid growth in the country despite macro-economic challenges. This is being led by growing aspirations, focus on fitness and sports and higher disposable incomes. In his recent statement on Agilitas Sports, Ganguly said, “With a hyper-focus on customer experience and customer-centricity, we endeavour to build meaningful communities in the Indian sports and sportswear space and be a catalyst towards a fit and athletic India.”
Currently, sports footwear accounts for 16 per cent of the overall footwear market and is the fastest-growing segment. Its share is trending towards global averages of over 30 per cent in emerging markets and over 50 per cent in mature markets. Clearly Ganguly has spotted the right opportunity to bet big on.