New Delhi: Andrew Crerar straddles a folding mountain bike he has flown in from Toronto, picks up an air-filled horn that resembles a miniature trumpet and presses the activator.
A piercing blast rips through hall No. 7 of Pragati Maidan, the sprawling exposition complex in the Capital.
“People take these horns to football stadiums in Latin America during games,” grins the Toronto-based Crerar, one of the 16 foreign sports goods manufacturers at a three-day inaugural Sports Fitness & Active Leisure Expo 2007 that concluded on Monday. Undaunted by affluent India’s lack of interest in cycling, he takes heart from the South American experience: There can be other innovative uses for his horns, available at $2.50 (Rs104) at wholesale rates, and retailed for more than fives times that, he says.
Innovative Approach: Andrew Crerar displays his “air-filled” horn at the Sports Fitness and Leisure Expo 2007 in New Delhi
Crerar’s company Samui Corp. and sports equipment manufacturers from the US, Taiwan, Korea and China are now scouting distributors for their products—treadmills, artificial turf, skateboards—to tap the Indian market they describe as “huge”. Whetting interest is the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.
India imported nearly $51 million in sporting goods between April and December 2006, compared with $46.56 million for the entire financial year 2005-06, according to the ministry of commerce.
Imports from China, at $16.59 million in April-December 2006, headed the list on account of low-cost products; Italy ($12.01 million) followed China, trailed by the US ($6.6 million) and Taiwan ($5.92 million).
Anita Behl, director of Exhibitions India Pvt. Ltd which organized the fair, says there was initial scepticism about the Indian market and the expo among Taiwanese, Korean and Japanese companies.
Only six Taiwanese companies made it, booking 45 sq. m of the 2,222 net exhibit area; organizers say already, spot bookings have been made for more than 100 sq. m for next year’s exhibition.
Hugo Hu, manager of Trump Sports Co., Taipei, said: “There’s a huge potential, we’ll return next year and invite more companies to come.”
His company brought seven sample skateboards (Rs1,000-1,200) to test waters; six were sold by Monday afternoon. Enthused by the response, the company has begun looking for distributors, Hu says.
Like Trump Sports, it is also the first time in India for Chinese company Guangzhou Fei Da Exercise & Massage Equipment Co. Ltd, manufacturers of treadmills and home gyms, priced up to Rs16,000. Export representative Jack Jiang says the number of enquiries from Indian buyers at expos overseas in the past had made the company take a closer look at India.
Sports watch manufacturer Tag Heuer’s Australian distributing agent Sport Timing Pty Ltd is thinking of setting up a Mumbai office, said managing director Aaron Clarke. The reason: It’s already associated with the Mumbai Marathon and the Delhi Half Marathon, and at the expo, was approached by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) in connection with the Commonwealth Games and personal trainers for its sensors and stop watches.
FieldTurf Tarkett, a US company with $300 million in sales, said Indian soccer clubs, sports federations, hotels and golf resorts are at last ready for its products—artificial turf and indoor sports flooring.
The turf has been installed at the Smt. Parvatibai Chowgule College grounds in Margao, Goa; and in Hyderabad for the World Military games in October. SAI, too, has shown interest, says Anil Kumar, director of Indian licensee, Suravaram Marketing (P) Ltd. “There’s a growing interest and we are confident.”