Noida M&B Keeps Best Shoe Forward
The idea clicked with Lee Cooper and it became one of its early projects. "The footwear manufactured at our Noida unit was well appreciated by Lee Cooper customers and we were approached by other global jeans brands to develop similar products which we turned down because it was ethically wrong to develop same products for different company," recalled Musafir. "Since, fashion requires a particular quality of footwear for a particular dress; we approached different garment brands to allow us manufacturing footwear in tandem with their garment products," Musafir said, who had a family business in footwear retail but decided to get into manufacturing after doing a two-year footwear technology course from the UK in 1991.
"Liberalisation was happening then and the world was looking towards Indian market," he said. Late Thomas Bata was so impressed that he came all the way from Canada to inaugurate M&B's second manufacturing unit in Baddhi, Uttarakhand.
Bhai Ajinder Singh, another director at M&B said, "After the success of our Lee Cooper venture, we decided to replicate the same business mantra with other brands of different products." They then approached Provogue and it again proved to be a profitable venture. "Though, our company remained unknown to customers but our work was well appreciated by people dealing in footwear industry."
"Since, we were not the direct competitors of Bata; it's the then India head Steve Davis (now in New Zealand) allowed us to sell our footwear products at their retail outlets in India," recalled Ajinder.
Asked about the current strength of M&B, Musafir said, "Our annual retail turnover is around Rs 250 crore and we are growing at a rate of around 30 percent. On job opportunities being created by M&B, he said that around 800 males and female in almost equal ratio are working in Noida and Baddhi units.
Asked about what the global brands are getting in return of such ventures, Musafir said, "We are working on the revenue share where we are giving around 4 to 5 percent of the revenue generated to the brands we are using for our products."
On product pricing, he said that it is decided with mutual consultation; however, majority of the times their clients leave it on them as input cost is coming from M&B. "We try to price our products which is affordable. The objective of this association is to provide branded footwear to the Indian customers at affordable price."
Andy Dunkley, CEO of Red Diamond Holdings, which owns Lee Cooper said, "We provide the changing trends in the global market, technology and expertise to M&B in this business association." M&B has worked with other global brands like Marrel, Rider, Geox etc but around 70 percent of their revenue comes from the Lee Cooper venture.
Andy said, "Though our association with M&B has been for around two decades, the business volume is low because of the Indian government policy (treating apparel and footwear differently) which creates impediments in reaching out to our global customers in 80 countries." Bhai Ajinder reiterated, "The government of India has exempted footwear from taxes on or below Rs 500. There is no such slab barrier in the apparel industry. If the government treats both footwear and apparel similarly, the export volume of footwear industry can grow drastically. Currently, Indian footwear exports around 5 percent of its net volume (Rs 60,000 crore per annum)." Bhai Ajinder concludes, "And this will help us double our volume in next 2-3 years."