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Easton Bell Sports looking to India for apparel making


Chennai : The US-based $600-million sports equipment and accessories manufacturer Easton Bell Sports Inc is looking at Asia for sourcing in a big way. Company representatives visited Tamil Nadu recently to locate vendors for knitted garments.

Pressed to improve margins by cutting costs, a team of officials from the company headquarters at Van Nuys, California, visited China and India to explore possibilities for sourcing sports apparels.

“We want to take Easton Bell to the next level by building competitive operations. We would like to reduce our costs by 10 percent, which in turn is expected to improve our bottom-line by $30 million,” Anthony D’Onofrio, chief operating officer, told IANS here.

According to him, the company would shift its production to Asia if costs work out favourably.

Speaking about the company’s India plans, he said Easton Bell would first source the apparels and later look at other products.

Members of the company’s procurement team visited garment exporting units in Tirupur and Chennai to locate vendors for knitted garments.

Easton Bell has tied up with the Chennai-based Landmark Export & Import Private Limited, part of the South India Bottling group, to coordinate apparel sourcing in India.

According to S.V. Sunil Kumar, director, Landmark Export, there is an opportunity of $100 million business from Easton Bell.

Easton Bell makes and markets sports products under four brands: Easton (baseball, softball, ice hockey equipment, apparel and cycling component), Bell (cycling and action sports helmets and accessories), Giro (cycling and snow sports helmets), and Riddell (football and baseball equipment and reconditioning services).

According to D’Onofrio, the company sources products like bats, helmets and other products from the Philippines, China, Taiwan and Mexico.

A relatively small player in the sports apparel segment, Easton Bell has decided to focus on this segment as it sees immense growth opportunities.

“The fashion of wearing sports apparel is one of the great demand drivers,” remarks D’Onofrio.

He said the size of sportswear market in North America is around $3 billion. The sports apparel segment, now dominated by brands like Nike and Adidas, offers good potential as the garments are not only worn by serious sportsmen but also by others.

While Bell brand apparels are targeted at the mass market, Easton and Riddell brands are focused at institutional and speciality segments.

“We have gained leadership position in other product segments and we are confident of replicating the same in the apparel segment as well,” D’Onofrio confidently remarked.