Alcis Sports is official partner (licensed agreement) for FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association) for Manufacturing, Sales and Distribution of 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Licensed Apparel Merchandise for India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Pakistan. In further discussion, Rohan sheds light on the product innovation.
Kindly shed light on the journey of your brand. What was the inspiration behind launching this brand?
Alcis Sports is a home-grown, cutting-edge performance wear brand and was incepted about two years back. The brand has been formed to tap into the emerging sportswear segment in the country as more and more Indians are getting health and fitness conscious. But the availability of products catering to this segment is only at the extreme ends of the spectrum - either expensive and high on quality or affordable but low on quality.
We wanted to hit that sweet spot between quality and affordability. Our products bring consumers technologically advanced products backed by innovation; is stylish & comfortable and at par with international brands at Indian price points.
The Alcis brand leverages on our manufacturing prowess and experience of running India's largest integrated sports-wear manufacturing company - Paragon Apparels, which works for world's best sportswear brands.
To be honest, the growth of Alcis Sports has surpassed all expectations. I am very happy with the way Alcis Sports has been received by the audiences. We are currently selling over 30000 items every month through various channels of sales. We are delighted by the love that consumers have shown for the brand and that underlines our belief that as far as the sportswear segment in India is concerned, consumers are looking for high quality apparel at affordable prices. Our mantra is International quality at Indian prices.
Being a merchandise brand, what are the key trends in terms of consumption? Also shed light on your merchandising strategy?
The sportswear segment in India is heavily dominated by international brands which are highly priced. They also work with only a handful of colours like black, blue, white etc. Consumption trends show that people are looking for a brand that is at par with them in terms of quality and also in sync with Indian sensibilities. India is a very vibrant country. We are people who love colours and it should reflect in what we wear - even in sportswear. Also, temperatures in India go up to 45-48 degrees and products should also be created, keeping such diversities in mind.
Our products come with many features to tackle these and are very light in weight, making it very comfortable to wear in hot and humid conditions.
Our merchandising strategy is to catch the attention of consumers and make them aware of our products as much as possible. In terms of distribution, we initially started with an online-only presence because of the scalability that the online channel offers. Post our initial success in the online model, we have been really aggressive on the offline front as well and now have presence in almost all large format retail outlets, apart from five exclusive outlets in Delhi, Mumbai, Kochi, Jaipur and Guwahati. Today our products are available in over 700 retail shops across India and we plan to take this up to 1200 by the end of this year
Kindly shed light on your product categories. Which are your hot sellers in terms of sales? Also what are the plans to scale up your existing merchandise range including the licensed ones (if any)?
Our portfolio is spread across categories like running, training, yoga, football and racquet sports, with specific garments catering to specific activities. We also have a product called Wonder Tee, which is made from recycled polyester, each using about eight plastic bottles.
All of our products have been received extremely well by the market and the consumers – however if asked to pick one product that is catching a lot of attention, it is the Wonder Tee. People have simply loved the fact that this is made out of 8 plastic bottles and therefore, saves the environment. We believe they feel by buying the Wonder Tee, they are also contributing to save the environment.
We are looking to expand across all our categories – and introduce newer ones such as our kids range, and our own range of footwear and bags soon.
Don’t you think licensed merchandise only gets seasonal boost in terms of demand and sales (let’s say: when particular sport is on based on merchandise is designed). What is your distribution strategy for licensed merchandise?
Well, that is one way of looking at it. From our point of view, it gives us a ready audience who already are fans of a particular sport, franchise or event; and allows us the opportunity to directly take our products to them. As far as the distribution strategy is concerned, it depends on the sport or the event. For example, for the FIFA World Cup we are heavily focusing on the pockets in India that has the maximum following for football – regions like West Bengal, Kerala, Goa, the North East. We have also partnered exclusively with Flipkart for the online sales of the World Cup merchandise.
According to you, what is the biggest challenge when it comes to retail licensed merchandise?
In my view, anticipating the demand and preparing for it accordingly is the biggest challenge when it comes to licensed merchandise, particularly for one-off events. This is further accentuated by the fact that large format retailers want to buy on sales or return (SOR) basis.
At last, kindly highlight your growth plans?
We have aggressive sales and marketing plans. In the offline arena, we are targeting large format stores, distribution and monobrand stores. Today we are already present in over 700 retail outlets and we aggressively are looking to expand our retail footprint across India in tier 2 and 3 cities including opening exclusive brand stores through company owned and franchise model. We also have plans to aggressively market ourselves and utilise our brand ambassadors Shikhar Dhawan, Karan Tacker and Lauren Gottlieb.