Reebok set for 'Fresh Start'

Last Updated: Thu, Jan 17, 2013 20:16 hrs

Adidas is hoping to make a fresh start in India – literally. In an attempt to recover from its troubled past, the German sportswear maker is now gearing for a “Fresh Start Campaign” for the Reebok brand in India.

With the new 360 degree campaign that will kick start in mid-February within a month, Adidas aims to give it a fresh try to regain Reebok’s position in the world’S second biggest population. To further boost its future growth, Adidas has brought Erick Haskell, who played a key role in writing the growth story for Adidas in Greater China, to head its India business.

“We are starting this fresh start Reebok campaign from mid February spread-ing across all mediums. Simultaneously, there would be a separate campaign for brand Adidas,” says Haskell.

As part of the campaign, the company will launch new products across categories and associate its brands with teams in different sports. It has already chalked out plans for some of the launches this year, such as running shoes in February, products for Cricket in April, and those in Football in June. Apart from this, it is also looking at basketball and other multi-speciality segments going forward.

The restructuring of Reebok India is coming to an end and the group has decided that it is time to focus on the business aspects here in India, he says. “I will be looking to leverage on my China experience for growth here. We are here to look at the future prospects post restructuring,” he points out.

Interestingly, the popular discount offers of Reebok will also come to an end by February as part of the company’s strategy for a fresh start. “Stock clearance is almost over. We will move to fresh product offerings from February,” says Haskell.

For the past few months, hundreds of Reebok stores nationwide have been offering 50 to 70 per cent discount as part of its plans to switch over to a new business model.

However, Adidas will not increase number of retail stores for Reebok in near future. Though it downsized its retail stores from more than 800 to 500 during the second half last year, the makeover does not contain any aggressive ramp up of its retail business.

“The fresh start campaign is to remind the Indian consumers Reebok’s positioning as a fitness brand with quality,” he says.

Haskell claims Adidas has done a consumer impact study after the Reebok case. An independent agency – Tru Insight – has revealed that brand Reebok has not been impacted by the alleged financial irregularities and the crisis that the company allegedly faced during 2010 and 2011.

“Both Adidas and Reebok will have common suppliers in future. There will be multi-brand suppliers and our level of engagement with them will increase in terms of our global standard, but the group’s supplier base in India will be smaller going forward,” Haskell says.

As one of the first steps to recover from the past, in August last year the company had announced a three-pronged strategy in India. Following that, the company closed more than 200 Reebok stores, started a voluntary retirement scheme and integrated suppliers of the two brands – Adidas and Reebok.

Haskell adds that the company is likely to consider setting up company-owned retail stores in future as the Indian government has opened up the retail sector for foreign direct investment. However, it is not a priority, he adds.

In May last year, Reebok India had filed an FIR alleging Rs 870-crore fraud by its former MD Subhinder Singh Prem and COO Vishnu Bhagat. Investigations on the case are still going on.

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