Anta in the Middle East
It’s time the Middle East region learns a bit more about Anta.
The brand is currently ranked third, behind Nike and adidas in their home market of China. In July 2019, Anta took over Finnish competitor Amer Sports for 4.6 billion euros and has become one of the largest players in the world. The acquisition helped Anta rise to become the world’s number three in the sports industry.
Basketball fans know the brand, since Anta sponsors Golden State Warriors star Klay Thompson. Klay is one of the few NBA players sponsored by Chinese shoe company after signing a 10-year deal with them in 2016.
The Anta Klay Thompson KT4 x East Bay Times “Newspaper” Basketball Shoes, for example, is as sought after as the Yeezy Boost 700 V2 Static – now (at the time of writing) trading at a 22% increase from retail on the sneaker stock exchange StockX. To put that into perspective, the Static is currently trading at a 28% increase.
We sat down with Aarathi Mohandas, Brand Manager, Anta Sports Middle East, and Krishna Rohit Nair, Business Development Manager of Anta Sports Middle East, to learn a bit more about the brand and their presence and growth in the region.
When did Brand Folio bring Anta to the Middle East?
Aarathi: It’s been about 6 years now but we started off small obviously, and now we’re just trying to expand it more across the Middle East and North Africa.
What can you tell me about the recent sneakers that just launched?
Aarathi: This is the KT4 x East Bay Times. It’s a collab that we have with Klay Thompsom and he is a spokesperson for East Bay Times, the newspaper. In this region, which is all of the Middle East and North Africa, there are just 24 pairs available that are being given out to select and handpicked individuals.
Is Anta big on sport sponsorships?
Krishna: We sponsor a few basketball players, Klay being one of the main ones, along with Rondo, Kevin Garnett, etc. Anta is a sports brand with 8 main categories of sports mainly running and training, but we’re very strong with basketball, football, tennis, lifestyle, boxing, across the sports range. We also sponsor Manny Pacquiao, and there is the whole Pacquiao range for boxing.
What about local athletes and sports teams, is that something Anta is thinking about?
Aarathi: That is something we are looking at definitely. We started with the Fight category, we have a local boxer that we do sponsor, his name is Mohammed Ali Bayat (below). We do support quite a number of events, basketball events are very strong for us, we support quite a few number of gyms, because the training part is important within our brand as well.
In terms of the region, what are you’ll doing to scream Anta? Would you’ll think of collaborations with local artists?
Aarathi: Initially we focused more on above the line because our region is across the Middle East so you get more exposure that way. But yes there’s lots being planned and things like collaborations is definitely something we’re exploring.
What’s your strongest market in the ME & Africa? Would it be UAE?
Aarathi: The UAE is a strong market, however and Egypt is also quite strong for us.
Besides the KT4 x East Bay Times, do you’ll do any limited edition drops?
Aarathi: Yes. This is the first of many that’s on the way. We’ve started with this and we’ll have a few more in the pipeline that’s coming in for the rest of the year.
Such as? Can you tell us which ones?
Aarathi: (laughs) Nope. Not yet.
And in terms of sneaker design – where are your designers mainly based?
Aarathi: It is inputs from everywhere; the designers are from across the world. We have designers from Korea, from Japan, from the US, UK and across the world. The design office is in California because that’s where the trends come from.
What would you say is your flagship sneaker?
Krishna: We don’t have just one – there’s many. That’s the thing, Anta is a sports brand, so we have flagship sneakers across all categories of sport. I can take you across products- let’s show you, I’m going to take you to the category I love basketball. These are your KT-4’s, Klay Thompson plays for Golden State Warriors and is one of the best 3 point shooters in the game.
If you’re as irresponsible as I am, its got Velcro, so your shoelaces are never coming off. Another added feature is the insole; this material is patented by Anta. It gives you 50% extra cushioning, 60% more resilience or rebound in comparison with your average insoles.
It’s the attention to detail within the small added features. Within the heel you’ll find cushioning inside to protect the Achilles.
All the soles have silver nanotechnology which is anti bacterial, anti odor. It’s kind of the same techniques your detergents use in your washing machine. You have a special mesh, we call this A-Web, like a spider web so it is highly breathable. You also a bit of an elongation on the side so your ankles don’t break-give you that lateral stability. And for his logo, KT (11 is his jersey number). So you’d see that running across footwear, apparel, accessories, it’s a range just around Klay.
And what about the colorways and pricing?
Krishna: There are the home colors and the away colors. They are priced at Dh495.
That’s a decent price
Krishna: Exactly! That’s what the brand stands for. The brand stands for high tech, high quality and high performance but at value-for-money prices.
What are your release schedules like?
Krishna: So we work on a 4 Quarter module: Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4, so every 3 months we’ve got new product that’s dropped in from time to time, on average, we have 200 separate styles and colourways.
Where can regional sneakerheads find Anta shoes?
Aarathi: We have them in Go Sports, Athletes Co., Shoe Marts and Intersport across the region. We have stores as well: 5 stores in Egypt, big market for us. A store in Qatar and Doha Festival City, a store in Al Ain, Anta Middle East also have stores in Al Arabian Centre and one here in Al Quoz. We’re also looking for stores in Dubai Mall, Mall of the Emirates and other malls.
How has it been over the last 6 years? Do you see a lot of sales or is there a lot of demand? Have you’ll ever had to restock?
Aarathi: Well the Klay Thompson’s are all sold out right now. There has been a lot of demand. One of the advantages we have is brand loyalty. Once you try on the shoes you’ll understand, they’re so comfortable.
Can people buy Anta shoes online as well?
Aarathi: We sell on 6thstreet and we’re on Nisnass, we’re still in talks with Namshi.
Thank you so much for you time! I have a feeling we’re going to be meeting quite a lot in the near future!
You’re most welcome!