The growth in Indian fashion and lifestyle market has given an impetus to the footwear industry as well. From a basic need-based industry, it has become an evolving fashion and style category.
Many Indian and international players, apart from introducing their performance wear collection have started paying equal attention to the casual wear.
And this has helped India become the second largest footwear producer in the world, with footwear production accounting for approximately 9 per cent of the global annual production – 22 billion pairs as compared to China, which produces over 60 per cent of the global production.
And one of those brands that has helped in reshaping the footwear market in India is Skechers.
Skechers, entered India in 2012, and were importing their products in the country. Since 2015, the company was planning to start a local manufacturing unit to serve both domestic and export markets. After nine months of tussle with the Government, they have got a permission to open single brand outlet in India.
Headquartered in Manhattan Beach, Skechers was founded in 1992 by Robert Greenberg and his son Michael. Today a global leader, Skechers USA, Inc. is a three billion dollar company dealing in high performance and lifestyle footwear industry. It designs, develops and markets more than 3,000 styles for men, women and children.
Beyond the United States, Skechers product is available in more than 160 countries and territories through an international network of subsidiaries in Canada, Brazil, Chile, Japan, and 27 countries in Western and Central Eastern Europe, as well as through joint ventures in Asia and distributors around the world.
In an exclusive interview with Indiaretailing’s Charu Lamba, CEO, Skechers India, Rahul Vira elaborates on retail expansion of the brand in India.
Throw some light on the background of Skechers.
Launched in 1992, Skechers is the second leading shoe brand for the masses and the classes alike. Skechers, a global leader in performance and lifestyle footwear industry, designs and develops a diverse range of performance and lifestyle footwear for all. We entered India in the year 2012 and recently added a range of apparels and accessories to our portfolio. Our products are sold in around 160 countries through a network of over 30 international distributors.
In a short span of five years, the brand just reached its 100th store mark on September 03, 2017 in Chandigarh. The company manages its international business through a network of global distributors, joint venture partners and wholly-owned subsidiaries.
What is your market positioning in India?
Skechers India plans to carry forward the legacy of the global brand and establish the brand as a performance and lifestyle-oriented brand that caters to all age groups. Currently, the brand presence is a mix of metro cities and Tier II and Tier III cities and we wish to adapt an Omnichannel approach by integrating online and offline for our distribution channel-department and specialty stores (more than 2,305 Skechers company-owned and third-party-owned retail stores). The brand is also launching a portal- Skechers.in which will have the stores integrated to it, in order to cater to 10 per cent revenues that come via e-commerce.
Tell us about the brand’s design and style inspirations.
Skechers is one of the largest sports and lifestyle footwear brand in the US, known for its performance based shoes. The brand has a diverse range of high quality product range that meets day to day needs of the millennials. The products are categorised as -‘Performance’ for running, training, golf and walking, ‘Casual’ for leisure and regular wear. The brand also offers a huge range of kid’s shoes in attractive designs. Keeping in mind the importance of fashion in person’s daily life, these shoes are designed to offer the perfect mix of comfort and style.
Skechers footwear are designed and engineered to the highest standards. We have a team of world-class athletes who bring experience, knowledge and passion to the product creation process and fulfil the goal to provide the best and most innovative footwear in the market. Skechers upped their game by bringing in the Goga Max® insole technology, the next evolution of the athletic walking shoes. This provides more cushioning thereby offering better durability, stability and protection. Designed with the Memory Foam insole and a stretchable top fabric that conforms to the shape of your foot, Skechers leaves no space for tensed and edgy walking. The innovative 5th GEN cushioning, the next generation of Resalyte® Midsole makes highly flexible training and running shoes extremely light-weighted and provide memory retention that avoids lurching from the ground and helps absorb impact.
Tell us about your product range? Who is your core target audience?
Our product range can be broadly divided into Performance and Lifestyle. Performance refers to shoes that are suited for physical activities such as running, walking, training and golf. The Lifestyle segment provides casual wear that are more centred towards the look and feel of the product that the athletic benefits. Our core TG is from 16-40 years belonging to SEC A, although we cater to an audience between the age group of 4-40 years.
What kind of scope does the product segment offer in India? What are the challenges?
India is a huge market with a wide scope. The sportswear/ footwear product segment is growing in the country currently. We have experienced high acceptance in the market by the consumers not only in sports footwear but also lifestyle.
The main challenge is to build portfolio and depth in range, and we are working on it.
What is the brand’s current spread (number and format of stores) across sales channels in India?
The brand has 100 stores across 45 markets, MBOs and EBOs distribution leads to 130 markets and 800 retail touch points.
Do you have an Omnichannel strategy? Tell us about it.
The brand is adopting Omnichannel approach by integrating online and offline. In the next couple of months’ time the brand will go live with www.skechers.in. We shall then have a better clarity on the path towards the omnichannel aproach.
The footwear segment in India has many organized and unorganized brands. How do you establish a strong presence in such a competitive segment?
The footwear segment in India is huge and it’s difficult to cater to all types of needs. Our goal is how to reach a large chunk of the market thus we have distribution channels through independent networks. We establish a strong presence through strong product portfolio, extensive and effective marketing campaigns and wide retail presence.
What are your India expansion plans?
Is been five years that Skechers entered the Indian market and we have reached the 100th store mark. We are growing at a rate of 100 per cent year-on-year and thus we aim to have close to 400 stores in India over a period of next 5 years.
When do you hope to launch your own manufacturing units in India?
We shall look at local production once we have the volume required. We are expanding in apparel business, which is fairly new in India. We are currently in the pilot phase and will continue till we get some understanding on the market. Our aim is to first build the confidence in our consumers mind.
There is news that you will be launching your apparel and accessories in India next year. Will this be in association with Future Group as well?
At present we are on the pilot stage. By mid-next year, we aim to start with apparels and accessories like caps, socks, bags on large scale depending on the pilot results and other things such as infrastructure. Currently, our products are imported completely. Going forward we plan to do it locally once we have the scale and time and also if they match same quality as our international developers.
What is the company’s turnover and profitability in the Indian market?
The last calendar year was closed at Rs 220 crore. This year, in the first 6 months, we have crossed Rs 300 crore.
You are the second-largest in the US and anticipate that you will be among the top five everywhere in the world soon. Where do you see yourself (position wise) in the Indian market?
Every foot should have a Skechers shoe on it – this is our aim. Currently we have achieved a decent amount of market share in the country, which seems extremely promising. The brand caters to all age groups starting from 4-50, through performance and lifestyle shoes giving eth brand a wide reach and penetration in the market.
Where do you hope to be in a year’s time?
To grow at the same pace as we are right now and maintaining 100 per cent growth rate year-on-year.