Almost every week, a section of Roxas Boulevard gets closed for a fun run, cyclists are now usual sights in highways, and not to be forgotten, are the Zumba dancers in community plazas. The fitness boom in the country in the last five years gave Quorom International—the company behind Toby’s Sports— a modest revenue growth in recent years, amounting to P1.1 billion ($23,437,084) in 2014 alone.
The once small stall in Virra Mall in Greenhills has ran far and long from its starting point, diversifying its brands to three more specialty sports stores with a stronger love for the local wellness community.
When Roberto “Toby” Claudio succeeded the CEO role from his father, Roberto Sr., he coped with the times and modernized internal operations.
For someone who worked his way up in the company, starting as an in-store staff member to even mopping floors at one point, Toby knows the ins and outs of the sports retail giant’s challenges as an enterprise.
“I really enjoyed at that time because it gave me a taste of what it’s like and an even bigger appreciation of how great our business is. The customers come to us looking for advice and we’re able to give that because we have the products they need,” Toby shared to Forbes Philippines on its June issue.
A triathlete himself, it helps that Toby is part of the market it wants to tap. The executive is keen to multiply that specialized customer service to different niche. In 2009, it started to diversify its retail stores and introduced Runnr.
As the name suggests, Runnr is a one-stop shop for runners who wish to have the latest apparel, from shirts, shoes, and accessories to books and selected nutritional needs. What keeps it distinct among the rest is the staff’s know-how with the subject as they are runners themselves.
“It’s about giving the customer an experience that adds value. You have to be an expert in the field,” Toby added.
The success of the specialty brand spurred the inception of three more stores: Move, which caters to hardcore fitness buffs; Urban Athletics for lifestyle sports gear; and Trek for cyclists.
Life of a triathlete
An outsider may think the company is handling one too many, but the growing sports community has enabled the company to wet its toes in different fields and succeed in it.
Toby credits this leadership transition to his personal growth as a triathlete. The sport which combines three practices—swimming, running, and cycling— has fueled his motivation every day to get better, given the painful training that comes with it.
“Triathlon has become a big sport especially for entrepreneurs because it really tunes your mind and body. I [couldn’t] workout every few days anymore because I feel sluggish. It makes me work better,” Toby shared.
Combining the three specialty stores on top of the Toby’s Sports brand has made the company a market leader with its 45-store network.
But maintaining this lead comes with a hefty price too, as the company intends to invest P200 million ($4.26 million) for renovations of its stores this year, just to keep its branches exciting.
“We want to keep with the times. Every few years, we launch a new concept or we change the look of our stores to stir excitement and create something our customers will come back to,” Toby added.
But more than internal company developments, Toby is also aggressive in keeping the wellness community better, giving back to the same market that has driven them success.
“Access is one of the hardest aspects in living in the Philippines. You don’t know where to play. There is a lack of public facilities,” he said.
Thus, the company is now in partnerships with some government units and real estate companies in building more sports facilities, like mountain bike trails and parks. All projects are scattered around Luzon, including Metro Manila, Rizal, Tagaytay, and Subic.
“We’ve been doing this for so long, going on 36 years already and we’d like to think it’s because we care the most,” Toby said.
Elyssa Christine Lopez is Entrepreneur.com.ph's editorial assistant/ staff writer. Follow her on Twitter @elyssalopz.