3 shoe majors to set foot in West Bengal

International shoe brands Clarks, Hush Puppies and Caterpillar will soon be manufactured in Bengal with Farida Group from Chennai, the country's largest footwear company, setting up a unit at Gosaipur in South Dinajpur, which will churn out 3,000 pairs of branded shoes a day.

Farida Group chairman Rafeeque Ahmed told TOI that the unit would begin commercial production by the end of the year. "When the unit begins full-fledged operation, it will have a 3,000-strong, all-women workforce," he said.

Two other shoe majors—UP-based Super House and Allanasons from Mumbai—are also in the process of finalizing investment in the state.

Announcing the entry of three leather majors into Bengal, state finance minister Amit Mitra pitched it as a major boost to the leather industry here. Bengal, which has been the largest exporter of leather and leather goods, had recently slipped to the second spot with Tamil Nadu overtaking it. Now, industry analysts believe Bengal will be able to reclaim its numero uno position.

Tamil Nadu had 35% of the pie in leather and leather product exports in 2012-13. About 42% registered factories in leather and related products category are concentrated in the state.

Council for Leather Exports regional director Tapan Chattopadhyay said with Farida, Super House and Allanasons Ltd setting up their units in the state, other footwear and leather accessory firms would also be interested in investing here.

Leather Training Institute, run by Indian Leather Products Association (ILPA) and the state technical education department, are also set to sign a memorandum of understanding to train 5,000 people over the next year and a half. Till now, LTI had trained only 300 people. Following the training, the men will be absorbed in leather units.

Mitra also assured industry members present at the meeting with him that he would look into the issue of VAT refund on exported leather.

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