Bata leans on women’s footwear category in its walk towards profit

Bata has been there been in the Indian market for decades now, but it is only in the past three to four years that the footwear company has started seeing the women’s consumption of footwear and accessories growing faster.

While the total sales of Bata India has been growing by 20 per cent, the women’s category has been witnessing a year-on-year growth of 30 to 35 per cent.

“Women’s category used to contribute 25 per cent of the sales three to four years back and now it accounts for 40 per cent of sales. Not just footwear, women’s handbags also has evolved into a major category now,” said Rajeev Gopalakrishnan, group managing director of Bata India.

Bata India had introduced ladies footwear brand Marie Claire in the recent past. The company had also launched premium range of comfortable footwear, Sundrops for women aged over 35 years.

Women’s footwear needs in India are generally catered by the unorganised segment. But the growing number of working women and the higher level of disposable incomes have been triggering a shift from the unorganised to the organised in the recent times.

According to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the Indian footwear market is estimated to be worth $3.94 billion and is growing at a compounded annual rate of 15 per cent to be worth $6.89 billion by 2015. Of this, women’s wear accounts to 30 per cent.

In order to make most of the growing market, Bata is also expanding its exclusive brand outlets with a target to open 100 stores every year. It is also modernising the manufacturing facilities to offer better quality products.

Despite the entry of several premium and luxury footwear brands, Bata would continue to be positioned as the ‘family brand in the value segment’. “Value, style and affordability will continue to be the key drivers of the brand. However, we will continue to upgrade our offerings with the needs of the target market,” said Gopalakrishnan.

According to Thomas George Bata, chairman and chief executive of Bata, the Indian arm contributes to 15 per cent to the global sales. The huge Indian population of 450 million with a growing middle class will ensure 20 per cent year-on-year growth for the company, he said.

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