Speedo’s India strategy

Speedo’s India strategy

New Delhi: Go to any sports goods store in India and chances are that if you ask for branded swimwear, it is Speedo you will get. It’s the market leader in the swimwear category and enjoys maximum brand awareness. As other international brands make a beeline for India, the market with the growing middle class and increasing disposable incomes, Speedo is stepping on the gas in order to consolidate its market leader position.

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e067160c-b00b-11dd-a509-000b5dabf613.flvThe 80-year old iconic swimwear brand’s co-president David Robinson is on his first visit to India to try and decipher the Indian sports goods market. He was appointed co-president of Speedo International in 2007 and has been with the company since 1995. Robinson says India will definitely be a profit center for the company in times to come.

“It is difficult to define the Indian market size but we know that it will be substantial in future. We are patient. We are willing to invest in the market and wait for it to grow. In the meanwhile, we will do the right things by investing in building our distribution network, popularizing the sport, helping it grow and at the same time build on the brand even more," he says.

Speedo is trying to expand its presence via a distribution tie-up with Kishore Biyani’s Future Group. Speedo will be sold through Planet Retail outlets in India to begin with. Robinson says as the brand expands its presence in the fashion swimwear category, it may start retailing through Pantaloons as well. Exclusive Speedo stores will follow once the company sees the need.

All of Speedo’s international portfolio including its underwater MP3 player Aqua Beat and latest technology LAZR Racer swim suits will be available in India. Other than swimwear, it will also bank on categories like women’s apparel to spur growth.

At the moment, the biggest markets for Speedo are the US and Japan. The company’s aim is to bring in 60% revenues from Europe and Asia and 40% from the rest of the world. India will be significant as part of the strategy. It is already among the fastest growing markets for Speedo internationally. “We doubled sales in the past one year. It is a small base but it is growing fast," says Robinson.

The lack of swimming infrastructure is the main challenge as far as Robinson is concerned. He says that with the availability of more pools and heated pools, the popularity of swimming will grow. “We are focusing on developing local heroes. We have seen that wherever there are local swimming heroes, the sport tends to grow." He points to the Phelps effect in the US. After Michael Phelps won eight gold medals at Beijing, Speedo has seen more and more people sign up for swimming. Speedo may bring Phelps to India in future, he adds.