Sporting change is good

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Sporting change is good
Shivam Goyal

Dubai - How 'one fine day' paved the way to a unique concept

By Alvin R. Cabral

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Published: Fri 16 Oct 2015, 7:43 PM

Last updated: Sat 17 Oct 2015, 11:06 AM

When Shivam Goyal met up with Landmark Group chairman Micky Jagtiani some years ago, he was presented with a question - and an opportunity to do something different."What's next for our group?"
It would take almost a year to put things together for what would be the newest addition to the retail conglomerate's arsenal, one that they made sure would be unique - and, in their own way, contribute to a healthier, well-rounded society.
"Retail is something we've known all our lives; why can't we be successful [in the sporting goods segment]?", Goyal, the chief operating officer of SportsOne, told Khaleej Times in an interview.
During that "one fine day", he says, they immediately knew that sporting goods was a very good line to get into - something that Landmark Group has not done before, thus would not cannibalise any of its units.
The first SportsOne store was opened in Saudi Arabia in December 2012. Today, it has 15 stores across the kingdom, the UAE, Qatar and Bahrain. By the end of this year, the company has a goal of 25 outlets spanning the GCC, with a 40-store target laid out at the end of 2016. It recently opened branches in Dubai's Ibn Battuta Mall and in Ras Al Khaimah, and Al Ain is very much on its radar.
Going further into 2017, Goyal says that "we already have a lot of work in hand" as the company is looking at Levant countries. And while Landmark Group has a huge presence in India, he said that for now there are no plans to open there yet, as the current focus is in the Gulf.
Business has been kind to Goyal and his team as like-for-like growth has been 40-45 per cent year-on-year - despite the fact that SportsOne is a "very new" concept and most of its stores are not yet mature.
A different tactic
"There is demand for authentic sporting goods in the GCC, particularly in Saudi Arabia," Goyal says, adding that SportsOne prides itself for being gender-centric than brand-centric.
While sports has traditionally been a male-dominated market, this has been changing for quite some time now; he points out that SportsOne has a special focus on women and children to put more emphasis on the fact that there is a growing number of them getting into a more active lifestyle.
But what he considers the most distinguishing factor between SportsOne and the competition is the brand's concept of layout by brand, which makes it easier for customers to find what they are looking for.
"We did research and found out that consumers would be better off if the entire range of, for example, footwear [by a single brand] is together," Goyal says. "It makes shopping a lot easier, especially with complementary products nearby."
He says that these concepts will, in one way or another, help inspire more people to get into sports. With the Middle East having high rates of obesity and diabetes - according to World Health Organisation data - Goyal believes that with active lifestyles, these problems can be controlled.
And that doesn't end there; Goyal also lauded the initiatives of GCC governments to encourage healthy and smart living.
"People are now getting more conscious about the way they live," he says. "More are picking a sport, taking a run or going to the gym."
Furthermore, SportsOne - and Landmark Group in general - has also been supporting health-awareness campaigns, such as partnering with schools like Gems Education and supporting sports leagues.
"At the grassroots level, marketing is important; educating children is key so that they would grow up conscious [about their health]," Goyal stresses.
The digital arena
Aside from its physical stores, SportsOne will soon enter another arena that will further boost its reach: online, through the group's successful portal, LandmarkShops.com."Yes, it is in the cards. Sports products online are very successful globally," Goyal said.
He furthered that this requires "a lot of work" and that he has been working closely with Savitar Jagtiani, the business head of e-commerce at LandmarkShops.com, and that plans are being mapped out that would eventually lead to SportsOne going online in July 2016.
"We are investing heavily," Goyal says. "Our outlook looks very promising."
- alvin@khaleejtimes.com



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