For a state that has cricket as its religion and football as its faith, the Maidan market in Kolkata is the mecca of sports goods. The market’s sheer variety of sports goods and equipment attracts thousands of sports enthusiasts.
Maidan market, formally known as Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy Market, was inaugurated and named after the then Chief Minister of Bengal, Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy, nearly fifty years ago. Sk. Nazimuddin, Joint Secretary of Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy Market Stall Holders Association, told BE that it came to be known as Maidan market due to its proximity to the Kolkata Maidan, which hosts various sporting clubs and activity. The Maidan generates a large part of the demand that sustains this market.
Sports good industry in general
According to industry sources, the sports industry has the potential to contribute around 1-5% of India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). A KPMG report on the ‘Business of Sports’ states, “The global sports industry, at 1% of global GDP, is estimated to be around $600-700 billion. This includes sports infrastructure, sports events, sports hospitability, training, and manufacturing and retail and retail of sports goods.” As of late, Indians are spending a lot on sports goods and the segment is likely to grow by 8.9% per annum from $1 billion in 2005 to $6 billion in 2025.
Jalandhar and Meerut are considered to be among the impor-tant suppliers of quality sports goods. Manufacturing units based in these cities send sports items to around 130 coun-tries, including some of the developed nations in the world. According to the Commercial Director of Sansparelis Green-land (SG) in Meerut, “Every day, we make 500 pairs of pads, 800 pairs of gloves, 1000 bats and 600 balls.”
In 2015, the sports goods market in India was valued at $1.9 billion.The export value of sports goods amounted to over $227 million in 2016. While the towels for the Wimbledon Grand Slam tennis tournament are produced in Gujarat, the city of Jalandhar manufactures footballs for many international football tournaments across the globe. The sports goods industry provides employment to more than 5,00,000 people and is highly labour intensive. Apart from Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, the sports goods industry is also getting traction in the cities of Mumbai, Chennai, and Kolkata. Currently, India is among the largest sports goods manufacturers in Asia after countries like China and Japan.
Maidan Market in Kolkata
The Maidan market in Kolkata is regarded as the biggest sports market in Asia. One of its customers told BE, “Here we get good quality items. The large variety of sports goods that is available under one roof in the Maidan market is an added benefit.” With 450 shops stringed together and 250 of them dealing solely with sports items, the Maidan market caters to all sections of customers. A cricket enthusiast can procure a good quality bat for Rs 300 or a little more and also be able to procure the costume of his favourite IPL team at a reasonable price. As BE interacted with various shop owners, the only sports items that seemed missing in this market were golf equipment.
Variety sports items
The love for football runs high in West Bengal. Ankush Kumar Roy, a retailer of sports goods at Maidan market, told BE, “There is always a huge demand for football and sports items related to it.” However, not only football items are available. Trophies, mementoes, badges, uttorios, medals, gloves, bats, balls, knee pads, helmets, weight training equipment, exercise bikes, and yoga mats are also on offer.” Sk. Nazimuddin added, “We cater to various kinds of sports such as cricket, football, badminton and lawn tennis.”
Another retailer informed BE, “There is a surge in sale during the winter season for cricket items and in summer, there is a surge in demand for football items. The demand for football items, especially international jerseys, are spiking because of upcoming FIFA World Cup.”
When asked about the scope of business, Ankush Kumar Roy stated, “I sell around 10 lakh sports items in a financial year. The yearly turnover is around Rs 3.5 to Rs 4 crore.” According to Sk. Nazimuddin, “The entire market has a yearly turnover of around Rs.54 crore."
Talking about the wholesale procurement of sports goods, Roy stated, “For procuring a small amount of goods we contact local dealers, whereas for a large requirement, we generally tend to import from other states.” Delhi and Jalandhar are the main manufacturers of badminton rackets and the main centre for volleyball and football production is Meerut. Meerut is also renowned for production of cricket-bats. Jerseys and sports-garments are mostly imported from Ludhiana in Punjab. Many sellers, who deal with goods pertaining to seasonal sports such as swimming, get good sale during a particular season. But they are forced to sell other sports items during the lean season. Roy himself undergoes certain difficulties. He informed, “Due to less profit at a certain point of time, cricket items were not being focused upon. The reason for this is the investment for procuring cricket equipment is higher than for procuring football equipment.”
Challenges faced by the industry and the Maidan market
The sports goods industry in India has its share of challenges. There have been areas, which require improvement and in-depth research. Innovation and new technological upgradation is required along with commercial collaboration and business development. According to a study done by The Department of Physical Education and Sports Sciences, University of Delhi done in 2013, “Only 33% of sports goods industries in Meerut are adopting new technologies whereas 67% of the sports goods industries do not adopt new technology.” The study further indicates that 60% of the sports goods industries of Jalandhar adopted new strategy/ technology for launching their products in market while 40% did not adopt any strategy or technology while launching their products.
The Maidan market has its share of problems. It is highly congested and the risks related to fire-breakouts are high. Lack of proper roofing and proper flooring is also another infrastructural problem. According to Nazimuddin, “The government should take more initiatives for the infrastructural improvement of the Maidan market. The implementation of GST and demo-netisation has also hampered our business.”