As part of the plan to widen its retail footprint in India, FILA recently announced that it will open 100 exclusive stores across the country over the next five years. Anupam Sehgal, Head Marketing, FILA India tells us about the brand’s expansion strategy for the India market, one that will focus more on FILA’s fashion-forward sportswear imagery
Q] While FILA has been in the Indian market for a few decades now, it has still not seen the kind of growth that the likes of Adidas and Nike have. How do you plan to gain market share and match that kind of competition? While all these brands operate in the same sportswear or active wear space as we do, it is important to note that FILA is still very different. We are known across the globe as an Italian sportswear brand but at the same time, we are also fashion-forward. We focus more on the fashion and lifestyle segment. In India, in the last two years, we have created a strong base of products that resonates with Indian sensibilities in both the footwear and apparel segments. Our global identity and our India positioning is very similar. The next few years for us is about representing a more fashionforward imagery. This is what we always do, and this is what will separate us from the competition. Speaking about the category, everyone will continue to grow at a certain pace because active wear as a category is growing. Industry reports indicate that active wear will continue to grow at a CAGR of 13.9%, which holds huge potential for every player in this space. We are confident about the prospects that the India market holds for us, and we will continue to leverage FILA’s Italian, fashion-forward legacy.
Q] The company recently announced its plans to add 100 exclusive stores in India over the next five years. What has prompted that decision? We do have a substantial presence in India already. As of now, we have 1500 points of sale and we expect this number to grow to about 1800 over the next four months. This is largely across metros, mini metros and even Tier II towns. On September 28, we also launched our first heritage store at Fort in Mumbai. Since then we have launched four stores in the last four months, which are all exclusive FILA company-owned stores. We actually re-launched the brand last year and that is why you will notice that the store count has only started increasing from September last year. Currently, our exclusive stores are present in Mumbai, Hyderabad and Pune. We will continue to keep that up and launch one store each month going forward. We will then eventually step it up to two stores a month till we reach the 100 store mark.
Q] Any target markets that you are looking at in particular? Aside from the key metros and mini metros, our research has shown that the North Indian markets of Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida and Punjab hold a great deal of potential for us. While company owned stores will be the primary objective, we are also in the process of identifying key partners to pursue a franchise model.
Q] You recently collaborated with Rannvijay Singh for the lifestyle and motorsport category. How has that worked out for the brand? We introduced the motorsport category around two years ago but avoided making too many announcements and promotions initially. We considered it important to get the product right before we start to talk about it. Since its launch, we have seen a fantastic response to the product line and that’s why last year, we decided to take it a notch higher and introduce the premium category within motorsport itself. We collaborated with Rannvijay for the product line, and that gave the category a huge push. We saw a great response from consumers, especially in markets like Chandigarh and Ludhiana.
Q] FILA has been known to advertise heavily on Digital media, much more than traditional platforms. Considering your expansion plans, will we see a lot more TV advertising now? Digital is where most of our conversations with the target audience takes place. Trends also originate pretty much out of a social media post or from an interaction today. It’s therefore a no-brainer for us to continue to invest in Digital. Having said that, in the latter part of 2018, we did some targeted Outdoor campaigns and a fair bit of Print media. Over the next couple of years, we will continue with Digital and also do more targeted Outdoor and Print campaigns. We may also explore in-cinema advertising and radio as we continue to expand our footprint.
Q] What does your advertising budget look like for the next couple of years? We will spend upwards of 12% of our overall turnover on advertising. About 40% of that will be devoted to Digital. The rest will be spent on OOH, Print, Cinema and we also have plans to invest more in the BTL space.
Q] How big an opportunity is the e-commerce space for FILA? One of the things we have observed over the past four months is that wherever we have expanded our retail footprint, we see a spike in e-commerce sales. This is an interesting piece of information that our e-commerce partners have shared with us. As a business, we are confident that we will grow more than 50% this year, and that goes for both e-commerce and offline sales really. This trend we believe will continue for the next couple of years. In the future, both online and offline will hold equal importance for our business because they feed into each other.
Q] What is FILA’s approach to the Indian market vis-àvis the other markets? We do not differentiate between the Indian customer and the global customer. What you find in a FILA store overseas is something you will also find in an Indian FILA store. While I cannot put a number to it, the kind of growth the Indian market holds for the brand is immense. The Indian market is definitely very important to the brand.