"Most of Our Upcoming Stores Will Follow the New Global Format": Rajat Khurana

In an exclusive conversation with Rajat Khurana. MD, ASICS India talks about the retail journey of the brand.
Rajat Khurana

What is your assessment about sportswear retail market in India? According to you what are the factors propelling growth in this market?

Today's sportswear market is not just restricted to pure fitness wear. We have all witnessed a shift in the Indian fashion scenario towards comfortable yet stylish clothing, which has resulted in the rise of the athleisure category. Further to that, people are also getting conscious about the kind of top to bottom look they want to sport.


This amalgamation of function and fashion has given rise to ASICS SportStyle globally and India is no different. Our consumers want products that deliver on style and performance and the ASICS SportStyle category addresses this need. This is our strength at ASICS, combining innovation and fashion to keep the brand ahead of the ever-changing consumer tastes.


How would you assess the journey of brand ASICS in India? What are key milestones that brand has achieved so far?


ASICS as a brand has a long heritage in sports based on the founding philosophy of the company instituted by the founder Kihachiro Onitsuka in 1949. Our brand believes that sport has the power to change lives.  Since the brand launch in India in 2015, we have aimed to highlight this brand message through our products, marketing campaigns and collaborations. We have partnered with athletes across the spectrum of sports with most of them already representing India at various events. We take great pride in being the first choice of most top athletes in India and it is our constant endeavor to present shoes with technological advancements that support the athletes in achieving their goals while improving our offerings for the Indian consumer.


Our association with the Mumbai Marathon for over 10 years has demonstrated our commitment towards the sport of Running and we continue to engage with the runners in India to improve our product offerings accordingly.


The recent signing of Tiger Shroff as ASICS Brand Ambassador has enabled our foray in SportStyle category too, which is the most preferred trend of the young Indian consumer today. Our product portfolio has been curated keeping the Indian consumer’s tastes in mind and we hope to gain the same trust with these consumers as in the performance category.


Kindly shed light on your current distribution in the online as well as offline channel. Going forward, what are the plans to scale up the distribution?


ASICS has made great strides in India in the last few years with product availability across channels. The consumer today moves seamlessly across channels to try and buy products and we have ensured to stay in sync with them.


With our ever-growing exclusive store count, we have managed to reach more than 20 cities where consumers can get true brand experience. We also work closely with our wholesale business partners in multi-brand environment and to reach a wide audience.


There is growing trend of exploring concept store retail format among leading sportswear retailer. Do you think sportswear retailing is highly driven by technology and not pure retail?


 With the current shift in preferences, it is important to converge technology and retailing through different modes. We have 41 stores in the country and out of those we have four concept stores in Mumbai, Hyderabad and Goa. With our exclusive stores, we want to introduce the consumers to highly technical aspects of the brand’s products to create a powerful brand experience. The store immerses consumers in a world where both the mind and body are stimulated and offers a wide variety of running, training and SportStyle inspired shoes and apparels for men and women. Most of our upcoming stores will follow the new global format and you will see an increase in the number of concept stores across the country by next year.


Kindly shed light on your Omnichannel strategy.

With 40 stores and regional partners across India, we aim to be accessible to a wide audience. Consumers can also view and shop for our products online, with new launches being updated on the platform in real-time. Today consumers demand a seamless connect with the brand through e-commerce, social or in-store experience. There is a big digital transformation that we are adopting to bridge the gap between retail and sale to make it more consumer friendly and accessible with a mere click of the button!


The brand’s omni-channel approach has helped us identify the kind of styles being preferred by consumers and the gap in our offerings. With upcoming store launches we aim to further expand our retail presence in the following years.


At last, kindly highlight your growth plans.

We aim to be the leader in all Sportswear market in India for the aspirational audience of India that is willing to invest in high quality products. Our focus will continue to remain in communicating our differentiation to the local audience in a language they understand. The Indian consumer has many choices at hand and we are conscious of making them aware of our core strengths over time.


Rajat Khurana