1st Jan 2024 @ 6:00 am

The incredible new Adidas Mega Store in the SOCO shopping centre in Puerto del Carmen may be just over a year old, but the man who runs it has been the company’s biggest ambassador on the Canaries for decades. We spoke to Michael Bharwani about a business career defined by those three iconic stripes.

Michael started in business in Playa de las Americas, Tenerife’s biggest and busiest holiday resort, and immediately his eye for an opportunity came into play. “I noticed that sportswear was becoming more and more popular as fashion wear. In southern Tenerife at the time I noticed that most of the stuff available was black, white or grey T-shirts worn with denim.”

Michael began to sell modern, colourful sports and leisure wear from major brands and found a healthy response. “Twenty years ago, the multi-brand shop was standard,” he tells us, “You’d buy brands like Adidas, Nike, Tacchini, Ellese and Puma under the same roof ”.

In 2003 the Adidas brand received a huge boost in Spain when Europe’s most marketable footballer, David Beckham, signed for the country’s biggest team, Real Madrid. Beckham wore the iconic Adidas Predators throughout his career, and the effect on Michael’s trade was electrifying. “They flew out”, he says. “I think only El Corte Inglés sold more boots than us”.

In 2004 the mono brand store concept arrived. “It took a while, and I had competition, but Adidas trusted my word, we shook hands and I opened in Playa de las Americas in Tenerife in 2008”.

That shop rapidly expanded to almost twice the size, and Michael also opened another branch in Santa Cruz, Tenerife’s capital. In 2014, Michael opened a small Adidas shop in Puerto del Carmen, near the Casino. The new shop at SOCO shopping centre reflects Adidas’s current policy of only opening large stores, 500 square metres or more, in areas with heavy footfall.

Adidas and Nike are currently the two biggest brands in sportswear, and Michael is well aware of the distinctions between the two brands. “Nike is American. They’re brilliant at marketing – just look at what they did with Michael Jordan. But Adidas is history. Everyone has an Adidas memory, and that classic retro image is hugely important.”

While leisure wear accounts for huge sales, it’s also important for Michael that the sporting element of the brand is never forgotten. “In the 1950s, footballers used to have to take three or four pairs of boots with them on away trips because they didn’t know what conditions would be like. The interchangeable stud changed that forever. Then there’s the grip – the three stripes have always represented a firm handshake, meaning support and comfort.

The latest big name to promote Adidas is, of course, Leo Messi, currently sparking huge interest in the USA, but although athletics and football were where Adidas started, it now provides sportswear for sports from swimming to cricket, basketball to golf and cycling. In fact, whatever activity you choose on Lanzarote, you’re likely to find Adidas cater for it.

Michael’s fully aware of the challenges that face business owners in the Canaries, staff shortages being one of the most pressing at the moment. He’s also adamant that authorities could do more to stop counterfeit products reaching the islands. “Those kind of amounts don’t come in suitcases,” he says, “Anyone who sells or buys fake goods is damaging everybody.”

But Michael is not the type of man who focuses on negatives. He loves his job, and he loves business so much that he is the co-ordinator of a 2,000 strong circle of entrepreneurs. He smiles broadly as he says “I can’t imagine waking up in the morning and not doing this. Adidas is such a beautiful history, there are so many stories.”

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