Bata Plans a Coun­try Walk to Boost Sales

To open 100 out­lets in tier -III and IV towns, in­vest .` 100 cr on stores, fac­tory moderni­sa­tion

The Economic Times - - Busi­ness Of Brands - OUR BU­REAU

Bata, the coun­try’s largest shoe­maker, plans to foray into ru­ral mar­kets and small towns of less than five lakh through distrib­u­tors and fran­chisees for its next wave of growth. Bata In­dia is cur­rently de­vel­op­ing a com­pletely new line of mer­chan­dise to tap these un­ex­plored mar­kets, top com­pany of­fi­cials said. The com­pany plans to open 100 out­lets in tierIII and IV mar­kets, which have a pop­u­la­tion of less than five lakh peo­ple, through the fran­chisee route. It will also tie up with whole­salers to sell shoes in ru­ral shops. “We have al­ready pi­loted 20 such Bata stores in smaller mar­kets,” R Gopalakr­ish­nan, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor at Bata In­dia, said. “At the same time, we have set up a sep­a­rate ru­ral di­vi­sion in last six months which is pi­lot­ing sales in vil­lages in Ra­jasthan and Ut­tar Pradesh,” he told re­porters on the side-lines of the firm’s 81st an­nual gen­eral meet­ing here on Wed­nes­day. The shoes sold in smaller towns will be priced up to .` 2,000, while those sold in ru­ral shops cost up to .` 500. This is the se­cond at­tempt by Bata to tar­get the un­or­gan­ised mar­ket, which ac­counts for two-third of the $35-bil­lion In­dian footwear mar­ket. Two years ago, it had launched a new for­mat, Footin, tar­get­ing young adults who mostly buy shoes from street shops due to their af­ford­abil­ity. Bata op­er­ates over 1,400 shops, in­clud­ing 34 ex­clu­sive Hush Pup­pies stores and 21 Footin out­lets. Gopalakr­ish­nan said the com­pany plans to in­vest .` 50 crore this year to set up more than 120 Bata stores and 20 Hush Pup­pies and Footin stores each. The com­pany is spend­ing an­other .` 50 crore for moderni­sa­tion of its three fac­to­ries over the next 18 months. “While around 50% of the prod­ucts are sourced from third­party man­u­fac­tur­ers, Bata wants to re­tain its man­u­fac­tur­ing edge,” Gopalakr­ish­nan said.

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