Callaway to open pilot store in India

A common Callaway merchandise display in India.

A common Callaway merchandise display in India.

Callaway is taking the next step to build its brand presence in India.

Callaway Golf India, a subsidiary of the global equipment maker, will open its first store in Delhi in the second quarter of this year, a company official said last week.

The Carlsbad, Calif.-based manufacturer established its subsidiary in the Indian market early last year and currently sells products at about 50 green-grass shops throughout the country.

“Exclusive brand stores will provide us the opportunity to showcase our entire product line, which includes golf equipment and lifestyle accessories,” Vivek Mehta, general manager of Callaway Golf India, told Golf360. “It will provide the Indian consumer a premium shopping experience.”

Mehta said the pilot store will be located in a high-traffic retail area, either as a standalone shop or in a mall. Details and the grand-opening date will be finalized in the coming weeks.

“If everything goes as planned, we will potentially scale up the exclusive store network to be present in the top 10 cities in India in the next 3-5 years,” Mehta said.

During that period, the company expects its initiative in India to become profitable, according to Thomas T. Yang, Callaway’s senior vice president – international. Yang recently told the Press Trust of India he believes India could be among its top markets in Asia within 5-10 years. Currently, Japan and South Korea generate the most revenue, he said.

“Given the growth of the economy, aspiring middle class and infrastructural developments, India might just surprise us,” Yang said.

Sales outside the United States already account for more than 50 percent of Callaway’s annual sales of $1 billion.

There are about 200,000 active golfers in India. That number is expected to grow 20-25 percent annually, Mehta said.

Mehta said Callaway also has been pleasantly surprised by demand shown by women.

According to Mehta, women represented about 5 percent of the Indian golf market in January 2010. So Mehta stocked his stores accordingly. The year’s stock sold out in two weeks.

“There is growing interest in the game and with the improvements in golf infrastructure and inclusion of golf in the Olympics,” Mehta said. “The (Ministry of Sports and Ministry of Tourism) is taking an active role and making investments in the development of golf in India.”

Gaganjeet Bhullar’s recent home victory at the Gujarat Kensville Challenge, India’s first European Challenge Tour event, can’t hurt either.

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