HRX Aims To Revolutionize The Fitness Scenario In India : Afsar Zaidi, CEO

HRX, India’s homegrown active wear by Hrithik Roshan and Exceed Entertainment, serves a combination of style and substance which is drawn from Hrithik Roshan and his lifelong dedication to achieve the fittest version of himself. The name represents the X-factor, signifying one to push oneself towards the path of excellence to achieve the best outcome possible. The venture is an example of a successful ‘Make in India’ story.

Today, HRX is the 4th largest brand in sports BU in India and continues to grow exponentially. The brand offers a range of products including sports shoes, men’s joggers, t-shirts, backpacks and select womenswear (joggers, sports bras, t-shirts). Product categories across HRX Activewear, HRX Casual and HRX Yoga and are available on e-commerce platforms including Myntra, Flipkart, and Jabong.

We are delighted to feature Afsar Zaidi, CEO, HRX and Founder, Exceed Entertainment over this online interview. Here are the excerpts of the interview:

Afsar Zaidi

Q. Tell us about ‘HRX’ and its acceptability as a brand so far?

Afsar Zaidi: HRX, India’s largest homegrown fitness brand, was founded in 2013 by Hrithik Roshan and Exceed Entertainment. The brand is envisioned to serve as a platform for bringing like minded people together to endorse the philosophy of becoming the best version of them. HRX aims to revolutionize the fitness scenario in India, as a value-for-money, high quality alternative to international brands. HRX today is the largest active apparel brand overtaking Puma & Nike and is the 4th largest brand in sports footwear online. HRX is the 4th largest brand in sports BU just 1% behind Adidas in the online space.

Q. How big is the market for active wear in India & the future growth?

Afsar Zaidi: Indian fitness wear industry is currently estimated at a whopping Rs. 8500 cr. It is expected to continue growing @ CAGR 12% and touch expected sales of approx. 6x by 2020 owing to growing health & wellness trend in the country along with an increase in the number of sporting clubs, increased interest in sporting activities like football, basketball, tennis, badminton and cricket.

Indian sportswear brands are rapidly proliferating and possess some emotional value and attachment. Indian sportswear brand (HRX) has the potential to supersede International sports brand if we are able to increase presence in organized retail and improve marketing and sales strategy which we are constantly working on.

Q. What is HRX’s current retail footprint in online? What are your strategies to scale-up the same?

Afsar Zaidi: HRX, is exclusively available on India’s largest e-commerce platform Myntra and its allied portals- Jabong & Flipkart. It is the 4th largest brand in the sportswear category on Myntra. As a part of the expansion strategy one will soon see HRX in the offline retail formats- EBOs and MBOs across all major metros.

Q. How do you cater to the ever-growing consumer aspirations and awareness of global trends?

Afsar Zaidi: The trend that will take the active apparel industry by storm is “smart” garments. With increased technological penetration in our lives, active wear including sports footwear will also witness a technological upgrade. Product and design innovation with continued focus on new category introductions will drive the sales. Our core focus continues to be Digital Marketing and all our marketing and communication content will serve the purpose of keeping our consumer motivated along his journey towards being the best version of himself.

Q. How has been your experience selling via only e-commerce marketplaces? Do you plan to start brand’s own e-commerce portal and offline too?

Afsar Zaidi: With Myntra as our partner we have penetrated pan India and needless to say have access to 70% of India’s fashion shoppers’ online. While e-commerce continues to be the mainstay Brick and Mortar is very much a part of the strategy and the natural progression for a brand of HRX’s caliber. The process of identification of the right retail partners for MBOs and availability of the right locations for EBOs has begun. We are working on the same and the plan should see fruition soon. The target looks like the festive season of 2018.

Q. What are the challenges in your business & how do you tackle them to stay ahead from competition?

Afsar Zaidi: HRX rose out of a challenge at Exceed- the management agency. We started the process to build a brand based on our artists attributes – creating something that would be a physical manifestation of his journey – the hurdles, the obstacles, the various things that he had to and has to overcome on a daily basis. In this journey of our mission HRX – we partnered with Myntra who brought in their expertise with oodles of passion and today we have laid the foundation which can and will propel HRX to becoming synonymous with fitness and fashion in our country.  As is the brand line, even the brand HRX strives to be a better version Day in day out.

The challenge is not in what others are doing / the challenge is always how we are becoming better – be it in the technology space or the design space or the new fabrics being introduced. The path we are on it’s all about being in sync or ahead of the trends in the global market – our focus is 1billion Indians and we want to ensure everything that we deliver to our countrymen is as good as the global metric if not better. Hence, consistent introductions in all aspects of brand building.

Q. How was the impact of brand’s recent campaigns #KeepGoing & #DefeatDefeat?

Afsar Zaidi: The fitness industry is growing by leaps and bounds and these campaigns are the unique voice of HRX. With these campaigns we have tried to dissect the mammoth monolith called “fitness” into real achievable steps.  This is important because India is more conscious about fitness today than it has ever been and while pro-athletes have many cheerleaders, someone needs to speak for the amateurs and beginners out there too. Our digital campaigns usually get millions of views. They showcase Hrithik Roshan who is a huge inspiration and along with him we have tried to include people at every stage of the fitness curve in our campaigns. The idea is to show that whether you’re just starting out or are an expert, we all go through the same struggles and the way to overcome them is by simply taking small steps forward. Our Influencer program is undoubtedly the most organic today.

Q. What is HRX’s future plan of expansion including the targets for the online sale by 2020?

Afsar Zaidi: We are not averse to the idea of launching anything new and innovative around the two pillars of HRX- fashion and fitness. Soon HRX will pan across all relevant categories pertaining to the life of a fitness enthusiast or an aspirant of fit living. The brand takes off from various facets of Hrithik Roshan’s lifestyle and fitness regime to create value offering for consumers in relevant categories. We have a lot of interesting business partnerships in the pipeline that will be announced over the course of time.

Q. Your journey so far with HRX as a co-founder & the future ahead?

Afsar Zaidi: My responsibility continues to be of a custodian, an enabler – ensuring that in the quest of us following the brand architecture and keeping an eye on the commercial aspects – we stick to the core of OUR MISSION. Consistent addition to the team strength is a big boost to be ahead in the business. Getting people from diverse segments, incorporating their learning is always a great way to ensure there’s innovation, more passion, newer dreams, fresh perspectives in the way we conduct business

Q. Please tell us about new campaign “Start What You Can’t Stop”?

Afsar Zaidi: Our aim at HRX is to expand our presence across the realms of fitness and an eco-system of Wellness. The partnership between Mi – HRX is a key part of our strategy as we work towards inspiring people who want to become the best version of them. This piece of communication- “Start what you can’t stop” conveys the ethos and vision of HRX which is building a culture of relentless pursuit of goals and never giving up for mundane excuses.  This campaign is about championing the extremes that athletes can go to push themselves the extra mile. Exercise is truly democratic, and for us, athletes could be the champion on the track or the man brisk walking down the beach. This campaign’s main motive is to promote the benefits of the MI band HRX Edition by showing all athletes with a single vision.

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