Skechers keen on India expansion
The Indian arm of the US-based performance and lifestyle footwear company Skechers is aggressively looking at expanding its footprint across the country in the next 14-15 months. The company which has 200 stores currently is aiming to take this number to over 350 by December 2019. It currently has seven stores in Hyderabad and plans to add at least three stores in next two months. The company is expanding into apparels and accessories.
Skechers South Asia CEO Rahul Vira told Telangana Today in an exclusive interview, “Fitness and health are becoming a priority for everyone both in India and worldwide. People are becoming conscious to be healthy. They are investing on better and healthier lifestyle. As a category, the performance and lifestyle footwear is a growing rate of 100 per cent year-on-year in India. We are going to enter into apparel and accessory segments. We are currently in the testing phase. We are going to roll out a fresh product line. We will be ready with our products including- T-shirts, tracks, jackets, bags and many more by the fourth quarter of 2019. ”
The company designs all of its products at its Manhattan facility in the US. The parent company is looking at a range of new products and product lines.
He said, “Launched five year ago in India, we offer arrange of casual and comfortable footwear for all age groups. We have recently opened our 200th store in Mumbai that shows the potential of the market in the country. Skechers is making efforts towards innovation, style and technology in bringing advanced footwear. Besides footwear for sports and social outings, we have a wide range of casual active-wear to specialty fitness apparels.”
Skechers is available in 160 countries through 2,305 stores worldwide operating both in the company-owned and franchise-owned formats. In India, Skechers has 57 company-owned stores while the remaining being franchise-run.
“In a couple of years, we anticipate that India will start contributing to global sales. We have spread our presence initially in metro cities while in the last 18 months we have started foraying into tier-2 and tier-3 cities. India is a huge market, and we can make inroads into all the potential locations. Cities are expanding and so are their neighborhoods,” he informed.
The company is aiming to be among the top three brands in the next few years. Though operating in the omni-channel route, the company believes offline will still drive its growth in India. Online platforms contribute to single-digit sales, overall.
Asked what is the core distinction/USP the company wants to create for itself, he says, “We always focus on comfort. We make tailor-made products for each market. For instance, Indian men look for more colours, so we make our products accordingly.”
He says, “Hyderabad is a key market for the company. Our aim is to make our stores and products accessible to more customers. We have seven stores now. Our eighth store will come up in Inorbit Mall at Hitec City and we plan to have a total of 10 stores by December 2018.”
Typically, the company has been creating stores that are spread over 1,500-1,800 sq ft. It is now exploring opportunities at bigger formats of over 2,000-2,500 sq ft in Hyderabad and across India.
“Every street and every property facing the road in Hyderabad offers a big opportunity to be open a store. Hyderabad is an interesting market. We have aggressive expansion for Hyderabad. We can come out with bigger stores in Hyderabad,” Vira added.
On a short term basis, the company is adding three stores and in the long-term the company sees immense potential.
The company which has recently conducted a walkathon in Mumbai, is planning for activities that will improve engagement with its customers in Hyderabad.
“Our strategy and effort will always be aimed at reaching out to customers fast and closer to them, and providing access to our wide range of products,” he said.