Exclusive Interview with Manish Gandhi, COO & Executive Director – ABEC Exhibitions & Conferences.

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ES – At the outset, for the benefit of our readers, please tell us briefly about yourself and your organization.
Manish – ABECL is already a well-known name in the exhibition industry for its great ensemble of shows across diverse sectors.​ With IHFF, I have added yet another feather to the cap and I’m continuing a legacy of over two decades initiated by my father – the visionary late Shri Surendra Mohan Singh Gandhi. As Project Director for International Health, Sports and Fitness Festival, and promoter of Amateur Olympia India and Sheru Classic, I love my job even more now. For me, fitness is more than just a regime. I have been a fitness enthusiast all my life and the need to launch and organize a dedicated event in the field of health and fitness, stemmed from an imperative need to connect to the Indian audience in order to promote awareness about the importance and benefits of​ health​ and physical​ fitness. We have been successful in scaling up the brand internationally and I now look forward to more acquisitions in this space, both organically and inorganically.

ES – Recently, the 2nd edition of IHFF was organized in Delhi, what were the some key highlights of this?
Manish – The expo can be proud of several key highlights. For starters, seven pro cards from over 500 entries were given out EXCLUSIVELY to Indian Athletes at the Sheru Classic Pro Qualifiers series. Other key highlights included Guest posing by four-time Mr. Olympia – Jeremy Buendia, Anand Arnold, Jhon Lucas, IFBB pro Junaid Kaliwala and many more. The MMA open championship was another great crowd puller, as was the Meet and greet with the exclusive IHFF squad.​

ES – How the 2nd edition of IHFF was better and larger than its 1st edition?
Manish – Many of our expos have been inspired by current market trends. IHFF is an example of a product that is inspired by massive growth potential of the fitness and wellness industry in India. The demand for fitness solutions has grown by leaps and bounds and IHFF has succeeded in tapping this potential and evolved into an exceptionally versatile expo. The expo is proving to be a real milestone for us. In the first edition itself, IHFF was hailed to be an expo to look out for and this year it has just grown bigger and better. This year we had more than 60 exhibitors from across the country and more than 1,50,000 fitness enthusiasts thronged the venue to witness all the fitness expotainment events we had lined up as part of IHFF. The exhibitors have lauded us for getting the right target audience resulting in fruitful B2B meetings. With more than 20,000 trade visitors comprising of serious buyers, exhibitors had their work cut out on the tradeshow floor.

ES – How do you see the scope of business activities related to the fitness sector in India in coming years?
Manish – I see tremendous potential, as well as consolidation in this sector!​ This sector is only poised for positive developments going forward.​ Technology and easy access to information have been the main catalysts for the growth of this industry.​ Consumers today are actively seeking solutions and products that will help them reach their fitness goals. Solution providers on their end are constantly evolving and reinventing themselves to provide consumers with novel and interesting ways to help stay fit and healthy. The holistic demand and supply chain in this sector indicates incredible prospects for established players as well as emerging businesses in this segment. A decade ago, metros in India had only a handful of well-equipped gyms and fitness centres, but today even B and C tier cities boast of state-of-the-art fitness centres catering to all kinds of demographics.

ES – Where do you see the role of government in the business activities related to fitness sector and also in exhibitions related to this?
Manish – Despite the huge potential, this industry unfortunately still remains largely disorganized.​ Government intervention is required to catapult the prospects of this industry. Our government has already taken a welcome step in this area almost a year ago with the launch of the HumFitTohIndiaFit Campaign. The seemingly simple campaign is being analysed by experts, to be in reality, a well-designed business idea, which will boost the progress of the industry. The Government has also done its bit by reducing GST on gym and fitness centre memberships, which was considered luxury expenditure prior to 2018. The fact that the government is recognizing that health and fitness wellbeing is crucial to India, which is one of the youngest countries in the world in terms of age demographics, is an indicator of better times to come.

 

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