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US retailer Foot Locker in talks with Metro Brands to enter India

American sportswear and footwear retailer Foot Locker is in talks with Mumbai-based Metro Brands to enter India, three persons familiar with the development said.

Foot Locker, one of the biggest footwear retailers in the world, explored partnership with other retailers, too, for its India entry, but a deal with Metro Brands – itself a specialised footwear retailer – looks more likely, they said.

“The partnership could be either a franchisee agreement or a joint venture,” one of the officials said.

Foot Locker and Metro Brands did not respond to ET’s email seeking comment till press time Friday.

With a population of 1.39 billion, India is one of the fastest growing and largest international markets for footwear and sportswear brands.

“There is this gap in the footwear segment, which needs to be filled,” said Shriram PM Monga, cofounder of retail consultancy firm SRED. “Multi-brand outlets don’t give much prominence to sports footwear brands though there is a big market to capture,” he said.

More than half a dozen leading sports brands crossed annual sales of $1 billion in India in 2021-22, driven by increasing awareness about fitness and surging demand for athleisure wear in the country.Brands such as Puma, Decathlon, Adidas, Reebok, Skechers, Nike and Asics saw a 30-68% year-on-year increase in sales, according to regulatory filings sourced from legal analytics firm Altinfo.

The sales of these brands taken together surged 52% to Rs 8,950 crore in 2021-22 from Rs 5,871 crore in FY21.

The Indian footwear consumption in value terms is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15-17% between 2021-22 and FY25. Average selling price of footwear expected to increase at a CAGR of 5-7% over the same period, it said.

Foot Locker has over 2,800 retail stores in 28 countries across North America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.

Metro Brands retails footwear under its own brands of Metro, Mochi, Walkway, Da Vinchi and J Fontini, as well as certain third-party brands such as Crocs, Fitflop, Skechers, Clarks, Puma and Adidas. As of December 31, 2022, it operated 720 stores across 164 cities in 30 states and union territories.

Recently, Metro Brands acquired 100% stake in retail and brand licensing firm Cravatex Brands, which owns sportswear brand Proline and holds exclusive long-term licence for Italian sportswear brand FILA and some other international brands in the country. Metro Brands now has the rights to drive sale of these brands across channels, including exclusive stores, multi-brand outlets and ecommerce.

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