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Sports apparel and footwear companies outrun fast-fashion and lifestyle rivals since the onset of Covid-19

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Sports apparel and footwear companies have outrun fast-fashion and lifestyle rivals since the onset of Covid-19 as sales of sportswear have continued to grow during the pandemic, driven by increasing appetite for fitness in the country and increasing adoption of sporting disciplines other than cricket.

Companies such as Decathlon, Asics, Puma, Skechers and Reebok grew 7-24% in the year ended December 2020, significantly outpacing apparel retailers Zara, Benetton, Marks & Spencer, Levi’s and Lifestyle, which either declined or expanded in low single-digits during the year, according to regulatory filings.

“There is an increasing number of people who are getting inclined toward health and fitness, and more people going to the gyms, where young consumers don’t just want to be fit but also want to look good. So athleisure products have a blend of performance and looking good,” said Rajat Khurana, managing director at Asics India and South Asia. “The market dynamics is working in our favour and we grew 30% last calendar year.”

For 2019, the company had reported 18% growth.

India has seen increasing interest in sports such as kabaddi, soccer, volleyball, hockey and badminton. It now hosts professional leagues in most of these sporting disciplines, drawing participants from across the globe

According to data insights firm AltInfo, French sporting goods retailer Decathlon grew 24% in the year ended march 2020 to Rs 2,231 crore, nearly doubling sales over the past two years while Reebok grew 7% to Rs 428 crore. German brand Puma saw sales increase 22% to Rs 1,413 crore during the year ended December 2019.

Unlike most apparel companies, which saw slow growth due to store closures from March and apprehension among customers regarding stepping out even after the easing of lockdown, sportswear sales continued to increase.

Sportswear companies which had long relied on bricks-and-mortar retail also benefited from boosting their online platforms.

Puma India managing director Abhishek Ganguly said consumers have been adopting sports and fitness wear due to higher awareness of health and well-being. “This is a trend which is pronounced since the last two-three years and has been revalidated and become more pronounced since the unlock.

Consumers are now much more focused on health than ever before and the market has expanded during Covid when the overall apparel segment is seeing headwinds,” he said.

As per industry estimates, the sportswear market grew 8-10% year-on-year in the July-December 2020 period as consumers wore such dresses for both fitness and as work-from-home attire or video meetings.

Walmart-owned Flipkart said it saw a surge in demand for T-shirts, track pants, running shoes, walking shoes and women’s tights. Sports shoes grew in popularity even in tier-3 markets, said a Flipkart spokesperson. “Fitness as a category has been consistently growing year-on-year, and during the evolution of the pandemic we have noticed the trend of consumer searches increasing for fitness wear and gear on Flipkart as they continue to explore different fitness routines,” said the spokesperson.

Amazon India said the demand has been high for sportswear and comfort wear apart from work from home essentials like open footwear. During the festive season last year, we observed a strong customer interest in sportswear with 1.2 times higher demand year-on-year with consistent strong demand for running shoes, especially 1.6 times growth in women running shoes, the spokesperson said.

With a population of 1.3 billion people, India is one of the fastest-growing and largest international markets for footwear companies. Brands such as Reebok, Adidas, Nike and Puma have been around for more than two decades in India and have grown by virtue of pushing their wares partnering cricket and other sporting activities. Newer players, however, have been positioning themselves as comfortable lifestyle and regular athletic wear brands.

In an earnings call last year, David Weinberg, chief operating officer at Skechers USA, said prospects for the brand in India were extraordinarily bright, especially over the long term. “We have seen incredible traction for the brand. For the full year, the growth rate was near 50% and it’s starting to become a very meaningful contributor to the overall economics of our international subsidiary business,” he had said.



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Relatable Sports YouTube Fails

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In this video, a man fails to find his footing when he attempts to leap into the dreaded Double Dutch jump ropes.

I played every sport and activity in P.E., but I could not for the life of me solve the duel jump ropes. I thought there was some kind of witchcraft afoot and never successfully jumped in without kicking the ropes.


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Young Australian cricketers still in primary school compared to Indian counterparts: Greg Chappell | Cricket News

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MELBOURNE: Young Australian cricketers are still in “primary school” compared to their Indian counterparts, feels former India coach Greg Chappell and has urged his country’s cricket board to invest in talent to avoid becoming “also-rans” in no time.
An injury-hit India sans their star players notched up an incredible 2-1 win over Australia in the four-Test series and Chappell believes it is the robust domestic structure and efforts put in by BCCI which prepares its youngsters to take on the rigours of international cricket.

“Our young cricketers are weekend warriors compared to their Indian compatriots, who get challenging matchplay from the Under-16 age group onwards,” Chappell wrote in a column for ‘Sydney Morning Herald’.
“By the time an Indian player reaches the national XI, he has had an all-round apprenticeship that prepares him to walk into the Indian side with a reasonable chance of success.
“I am afraid, in comparison, Will Pucovski and Cameron Green are still in primary school in terms of experience.”
Pointing out the huge difference in the amount spent by the two boards, Chappell said Cricket Australia “cannot be making 1960s Holdens in this age of electric cars.”

Will Pucovski. (AFP Photo)
“The BCCI is investing millions of dollars in budding Indian cricketers. Cricket Australia, by comparison, spends $44m dollars on the Sheffield Shield. The comparative spending gap isn’t a gulf; it is the size of the Indian Ocean,” he wrote.
“If Cricket Australia doesn’t realise what it takes to be competitive in Test cricket and our entire cricket administration does not change its attitude on where to invest in talent, we will be also-rans in no time.”
Chappell said “the skill level of Indian youth teams would embarrass some of our first-class teams”.
“Their ability to deal with pressure has been cultivated in the cauldron of hard-fought matches. That level of intensity cannot be replicated in nets or against lesser opponents. The fact that India has 38 first-class teams should give you an idea of the depth of talent available,” he wrote.

“What one sees when watching Indian youth and A teams is the surprising degree of maturity and an intuitive understanding of all aspects of the game. It is as rare as it is stark. So much so that one can be forgiven for thinking a team of men is playing a group of schoolboys.”
Chappell said India’s “level of investment from grassroots up has left the rest of the cricket world in its wake” and “the havoc that COVID-19 has wreaked on cricket coffers around the world will only widen the gap between India and the have-nots.”
“For those of you who were surprised that India could deal with all that was thrown at them in this series, and could hold their nerve and win in such courageous fashion, I say: you better get used to it.
“Don’t worry about India becoming the best team – they are already capable of producing the best five teams in world cricket!”

Chappell also felt it was a mistake to play the same bowlers in all the four Tests.
“The biggest mistake was playing the same four bowlers in every Test. For pacemen, playing four Tests in five weeks is akin to running four marathons in as many weeks. There were signs in Sydney that Mitchell Starc, in particular, was jaded,” he wrote.
The former Australian batsman blamed the batsmen for the loss.
“I don’t blame Tim Paine and our bowlers for this defeat. The culpability lies fairly and squarely with the batsmen, who simply didn’t make enough runs on friendly wickets.”
Chappell said Australia will soon need to find replacements for David Warner and Steve Smith.

“Our days of domination are past, unless we start producing a group of batsmen who bat through 125 overs in the first innings. David Warner is struggling and Steve Smith won’t be around forever, so we need to find the champions who are going to replace them – and soon.”
He also backed Paine, who faced a lot of criticism for his wicket-keeping and captaincy.
“For those calling out for heads to roll, especially those seeking Tim Paine’s head on a pike, I say REALLY? Tim is one of only five players who can claim an automatic place in this Australian team. Sure, he didn’t have his best Test series behind the stumps, but he still averaged 40 with the bat,” he wrote.


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Andy Murray to miss Australian Open | Tennis News

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LONDON: Former world number one Andy Murray will not be taking part in next month’s Australian Open after testing positive for COVID-19 earlier this month.
“Gutted to share that I won’t be flying out to Australia to compete at the Australian Open,” Murray was quoted as saying by British media on Friday.
“We’ve been in constant dialogue…to try and find a solution which would allow some form of workable quarantine, but we couldn’t make it work.”
The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) tweeted that Murray had confirmed he would miss the first Grand Slam of the year.

The 33-year-old, a wildcard, said last Thursday that he had tested positive for the virus and was in self-isolation at his home near London.



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