The branded sport lifestyle market in India is about Rs 3,000 crore, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 25 per cent over the last four years. The growth was much higher earlier, but the slowdown in the economy has taken a toll on consumer spending. As a result, the growth in recent years is coming more from value rather than volume. However, we are expanding more into tier II and tier III towns tapping the opportunities there.
With half of the Indian population being 25 years or younger, the Indian youth are independent, and have a great sense of brand awareness. For instance, there is a growing awareness among them about the different types of sportswear available for different activities like tennis, squash, running etc. In addition, there is a cool quotient associated with Puma's sports apparel, and the youth are its biggest consumer.
The Puma brand deals in footwear, apparel and accessories. Of the four leading sportswear brands available in India, Puma is the youngest - we started our India operations in 2005. The outlets of all leading brands may number between 1800 and 2000, and Puma has 270 stores: 50 are company owned and, the rest run by franchisees. Our products are available at other multi-brand outlets, too. Our India business has been profitable since 2009, and about 15 per cent of our revenues come from sales through e-commerce platforms. Footwear accounts for 55 per cent of our sales, and we import them mostly from Vietnam. With the Indian rupee slipping below Rs 60 to a dollar, our imports will get costlier now. This will generally have an impact on consumer spending.
When Puma entered the Indian market, the focus was mainly on the lifestyle segment since we always had a foothold in that space. But in the last one and a half years, globally, we have made progress in the performance category. In India too, we have now entered the performance market in a big way with our running shoe called the Mobium. When running, our feet expand anywhere between 4 and 6 per cent - Mobium expands and contracts with your feet and thus creates a new running category called 'Adaptive Running'. This is a first of its kind product to be introduced not only in India but also the world.
Rajiv Mehta, MD, Puma India
(As told to Business Today's K R Balasubramanyam)