We are targeting about 25-30 new stores every year: SSIPL

Pooja Kalra Sood, AVP, Sports Station Multi-brand Business aims at providing a buyer with multiple options in brands as well as products, ultimately helping him/her in making the right purchase.

SSIPL has been in the business of manufacturing and selling sports brands for the past 20 years, with Nike and Lotto. They have identified the opportunity in the market. Apart from Planet Sports, there have been practically no other organised retailers selling international sports brands under one roof. 

What does your total product line comprise of?

In terms of brands, all international sportswear brands from Nike, Adidas, Reebok, Skechers, Puma, Lotto, Asics, New Balance and Speedo are a part of our portfolio. We are footwear centric, apparels and accessories and contribute about 20 per cent to the total business.

Who is your target consumer and what consumer area/sensitivities does your brand stand for?

Our target customer is anyone, who is enthusiastic about sports and fitness irrespective of the age group and the activities they are interested in. We envision becoming top of the mind name recall for anyone looking for renowned brands in the sports and fitness segment.

Our focus is on elevated service and brand experience. While we are an MBO by design, our focus on an elevated service and brand experience, make us no less than an EBO by character. Most of the sports brands are available in the Indian market today.  These range from top end brands like Nike and Asics to mass appeal brands like Columbus & Lotto. We are, thus, able to cater to a wide customer base.

What are the price points your brand ranges in? What is sweet price spot in brand that you have observed?

Our price range varies from location to location, though we primarily operate in the 2.5k – 8k price segments. The sweet price point is 4k-7k.

Keeping in mind the growing customer preferences, what’s your Omni-channel strategy? Do you sell through own ecommerce or through marketplaces and which ones?

Today retail organisation which chooses to leave out even a single channel of customer interaction to sell its product is losing potential customers. We too are certainly planning to enter Omni-Channel retail, how soon and in what all formats, is something that we will disclose soon. We are also in the process of launching our Virtual Store App, which is in the pilot phase.

What’s the average store size and investment required to open a store?

The average store size is 900 sq. ft. for 32 lacs.       

What’s the technology that is being used to make store operations efficient and who are your tech partners in the same?

In terms of technology integration, Sports Station runs on AX platform and Microsoft is our tech partner.

What’s your expansion plan?

With a number of new trends catching on, namely athleisure, sports and fitness are rapidly becoming a part of the modern Indian lifestyle, which presents to us mammoth growth potential. We will keep adding new brands and new products to our portfolio and will continue to increase our retail footprint. From here-on, we are targeting about 25-30 new stores every year, at least for the next 3 years, and would also be looking at gradually increasing our average store size.

How many franchise stores are you planning to open and where? What is the investment involved and ROI for the franchisee?

For an aggressive expansion plan, franchisee model works best. Apart from a few flagship stores in top cities, we intend to go through the franchisee route for expansion.

Investment of 32 Lacs is required for a franchise store and the RoI can be expected to be 12-15 per cent in the first year.

What support do you give to the franchisee?

·         Backend Operations - We have dedicated team of area managers, who are responsible for the sales and operations of a given set of stores. Franchisee stores are also allotted area managers. The area managers are responsible to ensure that the franchisee stores understand and adhere to the company’s policies and processes.

·         Product – A dedicated product planning team at the backend to ensure that each store gets the right brand mix and products in the right quantity, at any given point of time.

·         Training – A back-end training team that travels across the country training store staff at all store locations, at least once in a quarter.

·         Managers’ training – We have an extensive three days training program for franchisee stores’ managers, which covers policies, processes, product and KPI knowledge and leadership skills.

·         Branding & Visual Merchandising – We provide branding and VM support in terms of guidelines as well as materials.

Pooja Kalra Sood