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Aug, 08 2012

A BIZ EQUIPPED WITH BEFITTING RETURNS

With mushrooming of gyms and health centres, the fitness equipment industry is flourishing by leaps and bounds. This article explores the great business opportunities available in the industry for aspiring franchisees in India.

THE personality of a person is the reflection of his mental, physical and emotional health. A fit body and a healthy mind lead to a better life which can be achieved only with a balanced diet and through a regular workout regime. With more and more people becoming health conscious and fitness freaks, the market is full of myriad pieces of fitness equipment for both domestic and commercial use.

Like western countries, the fitness equipment industry in India has also seen a tremendous growth in the past few years. The key drivers are the increasing number of health-conscious people, mushrooming of gyms, a growing demand for equipment from corporates and an influx of various foreign chains into India.

However, the supplies of these fitness goods are restricted not merely to gyms and health centres but with corporate tie–ups some organisations in the private sector are sourcing them for their employees as well. Members of the fitness-savvy elite class are installing expensive gyms at home to utilise their free time, as they do not like the idea of visiting a gym for their routine physical exercises.

Market size

In India, the fitness equipment industry is witnessing a significant growth with a large number of people becoming health and fitness conscious. This industry was estimated at Rs 12.5 billion in 2008 and is expected to reach Rs 63.3 billion by the end of 2012.

According to a FICCI-Ernst & Young study in 2009 titled, 'Wellness: Exploring the Untapped Potential,' the Indian wellness services market is estimated at Rs 11,000 crore and is expected to sustain an annual growth rate of about 30-35 per cent for the next five years. The fitness sector, comprising gyms and slimming centres, is expected to grow by more than 25 per cent.

Retail insight

About the scope of the fitness equipment industry in retail in India, P S Luthra, Managing Director of Fluid-Tech says: “With a growing demand for health and fitness equipment, we have developed a huge range of products for personal use, including EXER-CYCLE Machine, EXER-STEP Stepping Machine, EXER-KING The Total Power, hydraulic multigym and 30 minutes workout gym with EXER-GYM Range, SLIMLINE Standard Range, SLIMLINE Laser Range and KIDZ range of hydraulic fitness equipment, which we are planning to expand via franchising.”

“Prominent doctors have approved all our products and these products have received appreciation from various hospitals, defence personnel, dealers and customers with respect to quality and performance,” he adds.

Cravatex, a leading player in providing fitness equipment distributed under the brand name, Proline Fitness, is an ISO-certified company that represents several reputed international brands of fitness equipment in India. It launched Proline Fitness in 1996 and introduced a personal range of fitness equipment into the Indian Market. Proline Fitness is the sole importer and distributor for several international brands like Johnson (the IVth largest fitness equipment manufacturer in the world), Horizon, Vision, Body Solid and Magnum. It has a huge range of fitness equipment for home as well as commercial use.

HYPOXI ® an international brand with pioneering concept of body shaping is also expanding its presence in over 40 countries across the world. Coming to India, the brand with its unique design of fitness equipments had reached over 65 towns via franchising while presenting huge opportunities for the franchisees or the entrepreneurs.

Another renowned brand JERAI Fitness is the contribution of Mumbai's JERAI Fitness Pvt. Ltd that has been designing, manufacturing and providing weight resistance exercise equipment in the country for over a decade. JERAI's products were tested and used by international bodybuilders at 'Mr Universe-2003' in Mumbai. It manufactures the most extensive line of selectorized, free-weight and multi-station exercise equipment in the industry. The company has also developed close relationships with health and fitness clubs, wellness centres, sports authorities, corporate fitness centres and other organisations.

Challenges

Owing to the absence of research and development endeavours, low reliability of Indian equipment, a lack of space in residential complexes for health equipment, low-quality machines available in the market and an acute shortage of good fitness trainers, some of the retailers in the fitness equipment industry are facing challenges.

When compared to international fitness equipment brands, the machines made in India do not match the high standards of imported equipment. Though the lack of technological skills and issues pertaining to poor quality of fitness equipment do come up for 'made in India' machines, brands like Cardiomed, Acme, and Asian Sports and Enterprises are doing their best to produce quality pieces of equipment for this industry. About 60 per cent of the fitness club market in India comprises independent clubs which purchase equipment through dealers and distributors. The remaining 40 per cent consists of chains, franchises, manufacturers and other networking models.

Brand tie-ups

Fluid-Tech, Cardiomed and other brands help companies install fitness equipment on their premises. Cardiomed India Limited has helped global companies introduce their products and it has established a credible sales and distribution network in India. The company marks enviable brand presence in India and has regular association with corporate houses, large hospitals and the medical industry at large.

On the other hand, Fluid-tech operates with a strong dealer network.

Training and support

Some of the brands provide regular support and training for their dealers, franchisees and distributors. Brands offer support to their franchise partners for advertising and activities related to public relations. For instance, Fluid-Tech advises their franchisees to recruit local staff and also provides for an experienced fitness trainer who reaches the fitness centre of the franchisee and trains the staff there starting off the business on the right foot.

Expansion plans and requisites

Acme Fitness seeks expansion in its dealer network through a solid business model. It has already marked its presence in eight of the fastest developing cities in the country, including Chennai, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Delhi, Cochin, Kolkata, Pune and Coimbatore and seeks expansion in other important cities and towns as well.

About their expansion plans, MD of Fluid-Tech says: “We have been planning to expand via the franchise route for a long time. However, we are yet to start any centre. We aim to target Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Hyderabad among the metros, and Pune and Chandigarh among the Tier I cities.”

To offer its franchise, Fluid-Tech looks for a franchisee with a passion for fitness. To attain the brand's franchise, the franchisee needs an initial investment of Rs 18- 20 lakh and an area of 800-1000 sq ft for a 30-minute fitness centre.

According to Luthra, the RoI of the franchise is expected to be Rs 1, 50,000-plus per month, after deducting Rs 50,000 as operating expenses for the month, while the break-even is expected in one and a half to two years.

Just as dogged determination and knowledge of right techniques for performing physical exercises are needed to stay fit and healthy, the retail business of fitness equipment also requires a right approach. Along with keeping you in a good shape, the business of fitness equipment can fetch you great profit in the long run.

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