This fitness equipment company lands a World Bank project, now clocks Rs 75 Cr turnover

Started in 1992, Grand Slam Fitness has come a long way in the business of fitness equipment. The company now clocks Rs 75 crore turnover and aims to diversify into specialised equipment.
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In the 1990s, when Raman Sood was running a brass furniture business and his wife Kusum was in a government job, the duo decided to start a business that had more potential in changing people’s lifestyle and also had good market growth. 

Raman Sood and Kusum Sood, Cofounders, Grand Slam Fitness

They opened a retail store Grand Slam Fitness, and began selling sports equipment, fitness products, and toys. The business reaped good results for the husband-wife duo. Within a few years, they diversified and ventured into manufacturing of fitness products in 1996. 

In an interaction with SMBStory, second-generation entrepreneur Prateek Sood (32) says,

“My parents ventured into manufacturing in 1996 and we used to import materials from the US. Later, we started retailing treadmills manufactured by ICON (US) and became one of the first organised fitness equipment retailers in North India.”

Today, in a span of nearly three decades, Grand Slam Business clocks a turnover of Rs 75 crore and has diversified its services into B2B and various government projects.

From retailing to manufacturing

By 2000, Grand Slam Fitness opened its second retail outlet in North Delhi. Growing at an exponential rate within few years of its launch, in 2007, the company tied up with Reliance and Aditya Birla group for shop-in-shop display. In 2009, Grand Slam Fitness had 200 retail outlets with both flagship and franchise stores

However, Raman saw a shift in demand when the business was diversifying. Prateek says,

“India is not as big a market as it appears from outside. Despite being widely populated, not everyone is a potential buyer. Business growth by just retailing was non-viable. Hence, we started focusing on the B2B segment.”

Prateek Sood, Director, Grand Slam Fitness

In 2016, Grand Slam Fitness ventured into manufacturing of outdoor fitness equipment, and Prateek claims the company is the largest exporter of such equipment in the country. 

The company still imports raw materials to manufacture indoor fitness equipment but the focus is on the outdoor gym equipment where Grand Slam Fitness has partnered with the government on various projects

“Recently, World Bank granted us projects to install outdoor gym equipment at public parks in Telangana. This is one of the biggest orders any outdoor gym equipment manufacturer has got,” Prateek tells SMBStory.

Dependence on imports

Talking about the country’s dependence on the import of raw materials from other countries, Prateek says the government must implement several policies and schemes to leverage manufacturing in India

He says, “For any manufacturer to flourish, there has to be a lean taxation period and relaxation of policies and schemes. Any big company in India that exports or is the largest manufacturer invests a lot in R&D and learning. However, that’s not possible for SMBs and so there has to be more support from the government if we have to leverage manufacturing in India.”

Push and pull chair by Grand Slam Fitness

He further adds that the engineering education system of the country also needs a revamp. The current system is inadequate for fresh engineers to perform in the field and toppers are absorbed by large companies. Thus, SMBs suffer in tech adoption and innovation. 

Major challenges

Challenges have often been due to low barriers to entry in the business because sustenance comes from referral business and repeat customers, says Prateek, adding that the company’s biggest challenge remains the fragmented nature of the business and lack of knowledge of first-time buyers.

 

He adds that lack of awareness in buying good quality equipment in the fitness segment is also a challenge. 

 

Horse rider air swing by Grand Slam Fitness

Talking about the business scenario in the time of coronavirus, Prateek foresees a severe hit for the fitness industry for a couple of months post the lockdown. Small gyms may even have to shut shops, he says.

Grand Slam Fitness is spending heavily on going digital and launching an online group training solution for the masses. Prateek feels this has the potential of changing the face of the industry as we know it.

The company is also planning to diversify into manufacturing specialised equipment and catering to the international market

Edited by Javed Gaihlot

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