Footwear industry eyes global market

The district's footwear industry is looking forward to a classic David versus Goliath fight. After emerging as the country's second largest footwear manufacturing hub, a bunch of footwear manufacturers here are aiming to take on the Chinese who have a stranglehold over the international market.

At least 30 city-based manufacturers have already gone global, shipping footwear to the Middle East and Far East markets. Buoyed by the initial overseas success, the industry has set an export target of Rs 500 crore in five years.
It was the footwear boom that had helped the district tide over the domestic industrial gloom after the traditional mainstays like timber, tiles and textiles collapsed. The sector, which has clocked over Rs 700 crore in domestic sales, has also created at least 25,000 jobs.

Manufacturers claim that their products are hugely successful among customers in Singapore, Malaysia and across Middle East countries. "We have been able to export products worth Rs 50 crore so far this year but this is just a scratch in the market. We have realized that the future is in the international market," said V Noushad, chairman of the footwear sector of the Kerala Small Scale Industries Association (KSSIA).

They are aiming to secure the Town of Export Excellence status in footwear sector for Kozhikode. "The sector has been growing at 40% for the past five years. The only factor that is holding us back is the lack of qualified personnel in design and production. The Footwear Design and Development Institute campus would help us address this issue," Noushad said.

Sources said the development of a container terminal at Beypore port is also vital for the industry.

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