By Karthik Kumar
Shiv Naresh is an Indian sportswear brand based out of Karampura, Delhi. The company is known for sponsoring the likes of Mary Kom, Abhinav Bindra, Karnam Malleswari and the Indian hockey team.
The Indian Economist interviewed Mr. RK Singh and his son Mr. Shiv Singh who are the owners of Shiv Naresh to understand how the company carved out a niche for itself as a sporting brand amidst competition from established international brands like Nike and Adidas. The interview is below.
1) How did you come up with the idea of starting Shiv Naresh?
RK Singh: I wanted to buy certain sporting apparel in Delhi but there were no outlets nearby (in the 1970s). I had to go to Patiala just for a pair of shorts, so I started to learn tailoring – basic cutting and casing. One thing led to another and I ended up opening Shiv Naresh in 1980. Back then, we operated the store from my home.
Shiv Singh: In fact, it was my mother who started stitching apparel. She taught my father the basics. She is the real inspiration behind Shiv Naresh. It is her business acumen that we have inherited.
2) What were some of the challenges you faced?
Shiv Singh: We always worked within our financial limits, not seeking to expand our business by renting huge outlets. We utilised whatever investments we had to develop our products and did not face much competition from big brands because our market is different from theirs. They mainly target consumers while our product is purely marketed to sportspeople at this point.
3) How did you manage to market Shiv Naresh to eminent sports personalities?
R.K. Singh: Mary Kom was a child when she came to us for sponsoring her sportswear. So were Sushil Kumar and Vijender Singh. I’m 75 now so you can imagine why I say that they were kids (laughs). It so happened that they performed well and continued wearing our apparel. I guess that it is also a testimony to the quality of our products.
Shiv Singh: No one knew Mary Kom or Abhinav Bindra before they won laurels in their respective fields. Prominent sporting brands seldom endorse young talent, primarily because they don’t know about them. We are passionate that way and we have good networking in the sporting community since my dad was an athlete. Whenever there is a game or a boxing match, we meet and talk and get to know them personally.
4) How do you maintain the quality of your products?
Shiv Singh: We have been associated with all the major sporting teams for the past 30 odd years and have built a good rapport with all those players. They give us feedback on how we could improve our products. Sometimes, they bring sportswear from abroad and we develop our products to match those. We also carry out our own research.
5) You have currently entered the footwear market which is highly competitive. How do you plan on competing against international brands?
Shiv Singh: Right now, we are focusing on making specific shoes for each sporting activity like boxing or wrestling. Most of our sales are through online outlets. Our next plan is to make jogging shoes. On an average, a sporting retail outlet has 30% of its turnover from garments and 70% from shoes. Once we release jogging shoes, we will enter the franchise business model. We don’t have a significant product presence in the consumer market yet and once we develop that, we will deal with competition.
6) Did you ever dream of Shiv Naresh becoming such a success? What is your future plan and vision for the company?
RK Singh: No, never in my life. It’s God’s grace that we have performed this well. We have a very simple vision: We want to ensure that our products are of the best quality and are affordable at reasonable rates to all consumers alike.
Featured image source: Indian Express