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Reebok India’s unique model could be an eye opener globally.

     Print Edition: May 4, 2008

Jharsuguda is a small town on the western front of Orissa. According to a 2001 India census, Jharsuguda’s population is 75,570. The male-female ratio is 52:48. Reebok claims to do business worth Rs 5 lakh per month from this city.

Reebok’s Prem: His company’s footprint extends deep into Tier-II and Tier-III cities
Subhinder Singh Prem
Jharsuguda is just one of the 203 cities of India in which Reebok is present. “There is a huge market in small towns, specially in Tier-II and Tier-III cities. We have been ahead of the other players in recognising the growth in smaller cities too,” says Subhinder Singh Prem, Managing Director, Reebok India. The depth of Reebok’s India operations is reflected in the numbers. The company says it is growing at a compounded annual rate of 30 per cent for the past 3-4 years; in 2007, it says, it crossed Rs 900 crore in sales. “Before the end of this year we will touch the Rs 1,000-crore figure,” says Prem. Reebok closed 2007 with around 600 stores in more than 200 cities; it plans to add 200 more in the current year.

So, while Adidas (into which Reebok was merged in 2005) is busy planning a new strategy which will define Reebok’s brand positioning, Prem is planning out a course different from the parent company, which might become a model for other emerging markets. Along with small cities, Reebok is also focussing on the women’s and kids’ market.

The company recently launched Reebok Junior and Reebok Women stores in several metros. In 2003, when Reebok first came up with an exclusive sports salwar-kameez in knit fabric for women, the range bombed. Reebok learned its mistake and decided to treat the women’s range as a new brand in itself.

Prem wants to position the recently-launched boutique style format store for women—Reebok Women’s World—as a lifestyle store for women. Late last year, Reebok launched its first women’s store in Gurgaon and the company plans to take this number to 20 by year-end.

Recently, Reebok commissioned designer Manish Arora to come up with a complete line of high-end garments and accessories that can be showcased at the Paris Fashion Week. RBK Fish Fry Collection 2008 is an exclusive lifestyle range designed by Manish Arora that’s priced between Rs 6,000 and Rs 60,000.

“We have been the leading sportswear retailer for long. We now want to be present in both the performance and lifestyle segments,” says Prem, who wants to grow the share of the India business to global turnover from 5 per cent currently to 10 per cent in 5 years.

Pallavi Srivastava

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