#LCExcl – Athleisure can be called as ‘defining fashion trend of 2018’: Roshan Baid, MD of Alcis Sports

With India’s appetite and love for sports, the licensing space has changed dynamically over the years. This year, Russia hosted the largest global football event — FIFA World Cup 2018. Despite India not featuring in the World Cup, there had been a surge in the sale of sports merchandises in India.

In the offline space, Alcis Sports that won the rights for 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia-licenced apparel merchandise in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, had seen a spike in sales of football merchandise.

Licensing Corner caught up with Roshan Baid, Managing Director of Alcis Sports to understand the scenario of sports licensing in India.

How is Alcis Sports contributing towards merchandising and licensing business in India?

Alcis Sports has been at the forefront by bagging the rights to the prestigious Under 17 FIFA World Cup which was held for the first time in India. We have also been the licensed merchandise apparel partners for FIFA 2018 Russia World Cup where we created fan wear for over 12 world cup teams by creating over 400 skus in tees, polos, tracksuits, lowers and shorts.

Give a brief about the present scenario of sports licensing in India.

Sports licensing is fast catching up as the rapid growth of TV households in India over the years has led to the tremendous amount of sports content which gets generated in India now.  For instance, Star Sports has 4 dedicated channels for sports!  In addition, the mushrooming of a plethora of sports leagues in India from IPL, ISL to Pro Kabaddi League have all contributed to the interest and consumption of sports by Indians.  As a consequence, Indian fans are developing a keen sense of loyalty with their respective teams and favourite sports persons which leads to growing demand for sports licensing merchandise.

As we all know that Alcis Sports had inked a tie-up with FIFA World Cup to exclusively manufacture and distribute merchandise in India for the 2018 World Cup held in Russia. How does the major global event add revenues in the licensing sector?

Football is the fastest growing and most popular sport among young Indians today.  FIFA WC espoused huge interest levels and the figures released by Sony Networks who broadcasted the FIFA WC in India is a testament to this fact in terms of viewership.  This created a huge opportunity for online retailers like Flipkart and offline retailers like Lifestyle to invest in football-related merchandise leading to high sales in the Indian market.

With the rising brand consciousness among consumers and higher penetration of modern retail and e-commerce, licensing industry sees an opportunity for growth in India. Do you agree with this?

Absolutely!  E-commerce allows for penetration to tier 3-4 cities also where traditional brick and mortar stores are hard to reach.  Liking for sports is not restricted to metros but fans exist across India in every city fueled by the reach that TV and Internet are providing.  This is directly linked to licensing merchandise sales as consumers have an affinity for their favorite teams and sportspersons.

Do you think the athleisure segment in India is still lagging behind other western countries? If yes, any major reasons?

Athleisure is the new on-trend clothing that has grasped the attention of today’s millennials and can very well be called as the defining fashion trend of 2018. Growing on the back of increasing health and fitness awareness, the industry is estimated to be USD 6-7 billion in India. According to some estimates, the fashion industry in men is growing at a rate of 8-10%, while women and kids are growing at 11-15% annually; athleisure wear is the fastest growing category in apparel, growing at a rate of 20-25%.

With regards to merchandises, please tell us about the company’s sales and revenues. How is it faring?

We are growing manifold each year. In 2016-2017 we did INR 4 crores of business, in 2017-18 it was INR 24 crore and this year we are targeting INR 60 crore. So, it has been an exciting journey so far.

With new techniques cropping up, has the conventional brand licensing practices changed in a big way in India?

Today the rise of E-commerce has made more and more licensed products available to a greater set of consumers.  Similarly, the rise of internet TV and smartphones is fueling the rise in sports content and interest which in turn leads to higher brand affinity and license sales as a consequence.

Tell us about the company’s future initiatives…

We are aggressively getting into other allied product articles e.g. backpack, socks, caps and even shoes.  We are moving into our own retail chain. We intend to open another 30 exclusive stores in the next year. Our distribution network is also growing and we plan to reach 1200 touch points from 700 by the end of this financial year.

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