A new and fast-growing Indian sports retailer, Amigo Sports, recently signed a licensing agreement for the Indian market with Global Brands Group, the master licensee of the Fifa brand globally, giving the company exclusive rights to manufacturing, multi-channel distribution and retail of official Fifa merchandise across India.

While India is more of a cricket country, over 290 million people are watching the 2010 Fifa World Cup in India, according to Sanjiv Mehta, chairman and majority shareholder of Amigo Sports. One of his partners in Amigo Sports, which opened its first store under this name last November, is Shrinivas Dempo, owner of the Dempo Football Club and chairman of the Dempo Group of companies, which is involved in mining, shipbuilding and other activities. He has been in the sports business for many years.

Amigo is currently operating 49 company-owned shops across 17 cities in India and is aiming to take the total up to 100 stores before the end of 2010. Up to 20 of them may be franchises. The stores carry products for football, cricket, tennis and golf by Nike and Puma as well as under the private Amigo label. The chain wants to become a leader in these categories.

Amigo has already started offering Fifa merchandise in its stores, but it plans to open its first two exclusive Fifa stores next week in the Palladium Mall and the Oberoi Mall of Mumbai. It has also tied up with departmental stores like Shoppers Stop, Central and Westside to sell and promote official Fifa branded merchandise

Working with Global Brands Group for last two years, Amigo says it did a lot of research in terms of colors, fabric as well as studying market trends. The company is manufacturing the products in India under license to make them more affordable for the local population, ranging from 500 rupees (€8.79-$10.80) for a T-shirt to INR 6000 (€105-$130) for a jersey. The merchandise includes the 1904 Collection, a range of men’s vintage lifestyle apparel, a Code Collection inspired by street football aimed to appeal to the youth aged 14-18 years, and an Editions Collection that celebrates past World Cup events in a contemporary sportswear style.

Amigo Sports has invested INR 400 million (€7m-$9m) and is targeting a turnover of INR 100 crore (€17m-$20m) within two years of operation (end of March 2012). The company has earmarked between 6 and 7 percent of its overall budget for marketing, mainly through posters and billboards.

While football is still at its infancy as a participation sport in India, it is expected to grow rapidly in the next years. Meanwhile, a much bigger Indian company than Amigo in another domain, Satyam, is thriving thanks to its own contract with Fifa. This Indian computer service firm, which boasts annual revenues of $6.3 billion, was selected by Fifa in 2007 to take care of all the computer and communication requirements for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and the next one in Brazil in 2014. It placed 160 of its employees at the disposal of Fifa for this year’s event, working together with 230 young South Africans.