Founded in 1949, leading designer and manufacturer of running shoes ASICS Corporation was established by merging three companies - Onitsuka, GTO and JELENK, and was incorporated in 1977. The word ASICS is an acronym derived from an old Latin phrase Anima Sana In Corpore Sano, which means 'A Sound Mind in a Sound Body'. The brand, founded on these principles, recently announced its plans to "not renew" its distribution contract in India with Reliance Retail. It plans to open its own retail store in the country. Rajat Khurana, Director for Asics India shares expansion plans of the company in the country with Fibre2Fashion.
Asics is a well-known brand globally. What is the reason behind your late entry to India?
We have been doing business in India through a distributor since 2009, and have just established our own sales office( in January 2015). Asics is positioned as a true sport performance brand wherein "running" is our core. As the economy grew in India, running also evolved over the past few years. We offer products with innovative technology, and are premium priced. We understand consumer needs towards running shoes, and what Asics can offer has matched with the same. We believe it (entry into India) is the perfect timing to ride on this portfolio.
You had an exclusive tie-up with Reliance Retail? Is the deal over now?
We have an exclusive distribution agreement with Reliance Retail (Footprint), which will end by March 2015. We will work with our trade partners directly, but Reliance will be our preferred partner for retail operations in India.
Considering that most of your competition is already well established, what is the strategy behind making your presence felt in the Indian market?
Our strong point and our company philosophy are "true performance." In addition, our key category is "running", which is also the fastest growing segment in India. Globally, we sponsor the NY City, Paris and Tokyo marathons, besides the one in Mumbai. We are going to maximise our presence through these marathon events. We also see opportunities in cricket and multi-indoor court sports such as volleyball and tennis. Overseas, we sponsor the Australian national cricket team, and aim to expand our presence in cricket globally.
How do you plan to market your products?
We are positioning ourselves as a true sport performance brand in India, just as we do globally. We will market running shoes and running apparel. We are the strongest in footwear, but we will also market apparel and accessories.
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