At Adidas, sport is at the heart of everything we do. So in my first 100 days, like a coach of any sporting team, I started with the players. My assessment was that the India team was immensely talented—but we lacked a strong game plan to develop us into champions and a champion team. Another important step was learning the field of play by visiting cities and towns across India to understand how diverse and complex this market really is. I had been to India a few times but never appreciated the extent of the differences—language, food, culture, favourite sports and so on. I believed we would not win with a one-size-fits-all approach. As in any sports team, I also felt that it made sense to play to our strengths. This included investing in our employees’ and partners’ growth to drive diversity and performance. We also started to work harder on leveraging the global success of our amazing brands, adidas and Reebok, as well as our many winning franchises (e.g. UltraBoost, Stan Smith, Superstar) to win the hearts of our consumers. Another was the “Make in India” initiative, which continues to be a key part of our winning strategy.

A big challenge was to address the way we played and ensure everyone knew and respected the “rules of the game”. We worked collaboratively to first improve our results, and then to drive sustainable growth while creating the best experience for our consumers in everything we do. Among other things, this meant building a stronger focus on categories such as football, running and Originals, and executing our global store formats here in India.

We have been able to work more closely with our partners as well as focussing on an industry-leading digital approach that includes groundbreaking retail developments like endless aisle and opening our first own retail stores. While the strategy has taken some time to execute, by playing as one team with a winning approach, we now lead the market with two of the three top sports brands, and operate at a level of commitment and excellence that we are proud of.

( This article was originally published in the September 2018 issue of the magazine.)

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