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Business News/ Companies / People/  ‘Sportswear is blurring lines between gyms and airports’
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‘Sportswear is blurring lines between gyms and airports’

Retailers are back. They say it’s our year to get back business and not just for the sportswear category but for the entire fashion industry, says Abhishek Ganguly, MD, Puma India and Southeast Asia

Abhishek Ganguly, MD, Puma India and Southeast AsiaPremium
Abhishek Ganguly, MD, Puma India and Southeast Asia

NEW DELHI : With an eye on a buoyant festival season, Puma is expected to far exceed its 2021 revenue of 2,000 crore this year. In an interview, Abhishek Ganguly, managing director, Puma India and Southeast Asia, said the sportswear brand is focussing on the omnichannel shopper and is reaching out to its customer through popular icons from the sporting, music and films fraternities. Edited excerpts:

 

How important are the festive season sales, considering that Puma is a sportswear brand? 

The fact is that in India consumers spend a lot of money during this time. There’s festive environment and a goal of spending more money. It is a very important season for us, and historically so. Just to put it in context, the second half of the year is 60-62% of our business across channels and categories, compared to the first half at 38-40%. A lot of it is festive season sales, while some of it is also because northern and eastern India has winters and the average selling price of apparel goes up. But a majority of the spike in sales in the second half of the year is because of the festive season as people end up spending more money.

So do you expect to surpass pre-covid sales?

For sure. Last year was higher than 2019. And last year, we were still having the effect of the second wave of covid and there was a big drag in the business. In the consumer’s mind what had happened was still very fresh. The wounds had definitely not healed. This year, consumer sentiment and the mood of trade, real estate, malls, e-commerce platforms is super-positive, and expectation is super-high. The initial trends I see on the weekends from all channels, we are probably looking at phenomenal growth in the next three months.

The company did over 2,000 crore in revenue in 2021. What kind of jump are you expecting?

I will not be able to share the exact number; I can only tell you that we are growing phenomenally over last year’s number. I am expecting unprecedented demand in our category and in our brand.

Online business contributes 43% of Puma’s overall sales. Do you see it tapering off considering that people are out-and-about?

Percentage-wise I will only know that at the end of the year as this season will determine that. But I can tell you this time the buoyancy is very high for offline. Retailers are back. They say it’s our year to get back business and not just for the sportswear category but for the entire fashion industry. Brands like us are expanding and opening more stores. Online sales have still grown. Certain platforms are growing more than 50% versus last year in our category. You have lot of data to work on in online and brands which work very closely with these platforms are able to build a lot of efficiencies in terms of assortments or pricing which gets organic growth. We have built our shopping app in India.

Are you over-reliant on e-commerce?

We understand our business and where consumers are. Today we have more than 410 mono brand stores in India. We have a lot of commitment to our multi-brand stores, such as Shopper Stop and Lifestyle, and regional retailers like Kapsons. We have never been naysayers of e-commerce, and we started it when e-commerce started in India. It’s not because of covid that we had to pivot our business. We would not have become market leaders had we preferred one channel over another and that’s going to continue to be our strategy because consumers now want to shop omni-channel.

In terms of products and pricing, is there a conflict between online and offline channels?

Over a period, we have discovered what consumers shop for and on which channel, at what price point, and what categories. If you just put everything everywhere, then there is definitely a  conflict. So, we have a product distribution strategy which is dependent on the channel. If you are in Delhi and, if you go, let’s say, to our Select City Walk store and you pick up a product and you search online, 95-98% of the time you will either not find that product online or you will find it at the same price because we will be listing it ourselves as a seller where we can control the price.

Your brand ambassadors comprise Virat Kohli, Kareena Kapoor and even singer Harrdy Sandhu. Who is your target consumer?

Well, we believe sportswear transcends the boundaries of the pitch and the court. It has a strong influence on culture, music, art, movies and entertainment. If you are looking at people who are dressing up at the airport for an airport look or whether they are going clubbing, you will see they are wearing sportswear. We call it the gym-to-the-runway (airports) strategy. So, between the gym and the runway, the lines are blurring. Whether it is Bollywood, OTT platform entertainers, or models, they’re sporting athleisure.  Hence, we will always be rooted in sport and will always be associated with athletes like Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, Sunil Chhetri, Mary Kom, and Duti Chand, as well as Bangalore Football Club and Royal Challengers Bangalore.

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Published: 10 Oct 2022, 12:27 AM IST
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