Seara International, founded in Thailand 24 years ago, commenced operations in the fresh-faced Cambodian health and fitness market four years ago as Seara Cambodia: Sport Engineering and Recreation Asia (Cambodia) Co., Ltd.
Former Mr. Cambodia, body builder and personal trainer, Khoue Sao (or Rama to his friends), is a man passionate about bodybuilding and premium fitness gear. US brand Life Fitness, which Seara exclusively imports into Thailand and Cambodia, happens to be Rama’s favourite. As a result of this, Seara won itself a formidable fan.
With the big man’s compelling endorsement, Seara gained its first major contracts for gym and court design and construction in Cambodia with the Intercontinental and Sofitel Hotels, and hasn’t looked back.
The Seara gym showroom overlooking Norodom Boulevard in BKK1, has been successfully up and running for over a year and a half now; a testament to Seara’s ambitious decision to stake a foothold in the fledgling Cambodian health, fitness and nutrition industry.
On top of this, a major International School of Phnom Penh (ISPP) project came to a close just five months ago, in a venture that saw Seara completing full planning, construction and consultative management of four basketball courts, eight badminton courts, four volleyball courts, an indoor/outdoor softball pitch, and all the attached facilities across the renowned ISPP campus.
The market appears destined to continue its expansion. “Cambodians love sport,” attests Simon Rapoport, Country Manager of Seara International Cambodia. “In fact, before the region went to war in the 1970s, Cambodia was Southeast Asia’s leader in sports.”
“Today,” Rapoport continues, “exercise and sports are coming back hard and fast in Cambodian culture.”
Regional sporting competition is more widespread and inclusive than ever, and Cambodians are keen to compete at this level—even in sports previously alien to them.
Health, nutrition and exercise are long-held Cambodian values, and these are still being passed on to a new generation. However, Cambodian consumers are still somewhat behind Thailand in regards to their acceptance and understanding of high-tech consumer products and their value, and specifically the high-end professional exercise equipment in which Seara specialises.
Singapore and Thailand are currently the region’s market leaders in sports and fitness. With the advent of ASEAN, it seems natural that surrounding markets such as Cambodia will chase this success, notes Rapoport.
Asia is also the number one growth market for health, fitness and nutrition products and services worldwide, recording 15 to 20 percent aggregate growth throughout the industry, annually.
“When selling fitness and health products,” explains Rapoport, “people don’t buy the product, they buy the idea—a lifestyle.”
Asian people are generally conscious of their health, they have an overarching culture of self-discipline and self-betterment, and they love friendly competition—all factors that feed into health and fitness marketing perfectly, he says.
Recognising that Seara’s high-tech fitness equipment may be currently out of reach for many of Cambodia’s citizens, Rapoport has plans to give back to the world of Cambodian Sports.
As an ex-International seed Tennis coach of 20 years, and representing a company with executives crazy about Tennis, Rapoport plans to assist Tennis Cambodia in the future, in whatever ways possible.
Rapoport also hopes to open a cut-price fitness centre in Phnom Penh, bringing a high-quality fitness experience to the lower income community, with education, marketing, and a chance to try the equipment.
“This would not be a profit center, but a showroom—a means to give something to the community,” he says.
To do this Seara must find the right location, not in the central city, but accessible, and make it reasonably priced.
“We want to make high quality fitness available for everyone,” exclaims Rapoport.