India is no longer just a cricket-loving nation. It is welcoming other sports with equal warmth and support as well. Many other games are now experiencing growth in viewership, participation, and sports-related industries that was once experienced by cricket.
In a way, the monopoly enjoyed by cricket is being erased slowly. As a result of this, it has opened up new avenues and business opportunities for investors that are looking to seize upon this opportunity. They range from fields like brand building and infrastructure to niche entrepreneurial ventures, emerging technologies, and services.
Add to that is India’s ever-improving economic climate, rising middle-class budgets and as a result, more disposable income. This year, the country leapfrogged 23 places up to 77th position in the World Bank’s ease of doing business, that would thus attract more FDI.
But the biggest factor in the booming of the industry is the changing outlook of the population towards sports and fitness. All the above factor are fueling an increase in the demand for sports-related goods and services. Today, sports is no longer another niche industry.
Drivers of Growth – Why Sports?
The Indian government, for the first time, has seriously turned its attention to develop the sports sector as a strategy to spur employment, generate additional revenue, and attract foreign investment into the nation, apart from nurturing sports talent to bring in laurels for the country.
Take, for example, the federal government’s Khelo India program, for which it set aside a whopping Rs 1,756 crore worth of its budget.
A national committee was also set up recently to study the state of sports governance. The committee includes some of the most reputable sportspersons, marketing professionals specialized in sports and leading sports brands along with government officials.
The private sector is also witnessing a deepened involvement in sports governance. Earlier it was limited only to deals associated with public-private partnerships for specific task-related tenders, like stadium management or overhaul of facilities.
Where Can I invest in Sports?
India exports approximately 60 % of all the sporting goods manufactured in here. This is true especially for international retail brands, like Mitre, Umbro, Lotto, and Wilson.
India has a labour-intensive economy that provides inexhaustible opportunities for manufacturing firms looking to set up here. To put it into perspective, sports retail and manufacturing industry employs roughly around 5,00,000 people alone, with a potential for further growth in employment.
Again, the government has been instrumental in revitalizing the manufacturing sector in India with its flagship, ‘Make in India’ programme. It was launched back in 2014 with an aim of making a contribution to the manufacturing sector up to 25%. So far, it has done relatively well.
The Sports manufacturing industry is primarily concentrated in the northern states of Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, whereas the others Gujarat, West Bengal, and Tamil Nadu are proving to be the developing hubs. This makes exploring the sports equipment manufacturing industry a very interesting option for investors.
Retail Sports Market
Decathlon, a French sports company and the world’s largest sporting goods manufacturer and retailer, was pioneering multinational (MNC) who first set its foot on the Indian sports retail market.
The company cleverly took advantage of India’s liberated FDI rules (100 % to be precise under the government approval route at the time now made automatic), Decathlon went on to set up over 60 stores across India.
They sell up to 30 % of 5,000 products that are sourced from local manufacturers. Being the first entities in this emergent market, they now enjoy a commanding position and draw large revenues consequently.
There is an ever-growing demand for sportswear and sports equipment, with the government and corporate pushing sustainably to promote sports in India. Recently, it was reported that the government was seriously contemplating the significant inclusion of sports in the educational curriculum after a recommendation of Sachin Tendulkar, India’s legendary cricketer, and an upper house member.
It thus goes without saying that the sports retail segment has huge, untapped potential in the country.
The advent of new sporting leagues means the demand for official merchandises and other sports-related goods, such as badminton, football, and hockey apart from fitness wear is witnessing an unprecedented growth.
Sports- The source of pure entertainment
Slowly but steadily, fans are moving towards sports for a pure and unadulterated brand of entertainment.
The thrilling and edge-of-the-seat experience that sports provide is quite unparalleled. Many statistics now suggest that in the coming 5 years, sports will come at par with entertainment, if not superseding it.
The writing is clearly on the wall with the emergence of popular private leagues like the Pro-kabaddi league, the Hockey India League, and the Premier Badminton league.
More and more people are turning by the day to the industry to become its consumers in its various forms. This can be through live streaming, fantasy leagues, articles or any other media form.
As a result of this, the time is ripe for those looking to invest in sports startups based in these fields.
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