Callaway sets up shop in India

Hoping to capitalize on golf’s growing global popularity, Callaway Golf opened its sixth overseas unit.

The Carlsbad, Calif.-based equipment maker has formed a new subsidiary, Callaway Golf India, to manage business in the world’s second-most populous nation. The company also announced Jan. 12 it signed India’s Jeev Milkha Singh, India’s highest-ranked player (50th in the World Golf Rankings), to serve as a brand ambassador.

“We see great potential in the Indian market,” said George Fellows, Callaway Golf president and CEO, in a statement. “We feel the IOC’s recent decision to reinstate golf as an Olympic sport and the growing number of international players, including Jeev Milkha Singh, among the upper echelons of the World Golf Rankings indicate a global golf marketplace poised for growth.”

With a growing middle class and a penchant for consumerism, India is widely considered to be one of the sport’s emerging markets. Callaway already has started to reap rewards in Asia. For the three months ending Sept. 30, the Asia region (excluding Japan) accounted for $21 million – or 11 percent – of net sales, and it was the only one of five regions to show growth over the same period in the prior year (up 2.5 percent).

How significant have international markets become for equipment makers such as Callaway? Sales abroad already exceed 50 percent of Callaway’s business. In a prior interview, Fellows predicted international sales ultimately would account for 60 percent of the company’s total sales.

Callaway’s other wholly owned subsidiaries outside the United States include units in Europe, Japan, Korea, Australia and China.

Senior Callaway Golf executives including Vivek Mehta, who has been appointed by Callaway Golf to lead operations on the ground in India, participated in launch events across several key cities in the country.

Callaway plans to begin accepting pre-orders for product in mid-January and start shipping by late February to India.

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