Footwear Retailer Khadim's Focuses On "Affordable Fashion"

India’s home-grown footwear retailer Khadim’s – from the eastern Indian city of Kolkata – is half the size of the market leader Bata in terms of the number of stores.

But the $75 million (FY15 revenues) company which has 650 stores across 24 states of India is rapidly expanding. It has a strong focus on the eastern and southern parts of the country and offers a range of footwear from starter slippers to high-end party wear.

“What we offer is affordable fashion for everyone.” says Khadim’s chairman and managing director Siddhartha Roy Burman. “Our vision is to be in every Indian step. We’ve been developing different brands and product lines for specific age groups, profiles and categories of customers.”

Khadim’s was started by Satya Prasad Roy Burman in 1965 when he bought a shoe store in Chitpur from a certain K.M. Khadim. He transformed that into a wholesale shoe business in eastern India. Son Siddhartha Roy Burman is credited with introducing the retail focus in 1993 when he opened three showrooms in Kolkata.

Satya Prasad died in 2013 but Siddhartha is looking to expand Khadims’ into a chain with 1,000 outlets within the next few years.

But it is no easy task. First off, there’s the market leader Bata with over 1,300 stores. The Swiss company, which had an early start in India in the 1930s, has dominated the market for decades. While it stumbled in the 1990s and early 2000s it is back on track again – planning to open 100 stores in the current year.

Apart from Bata, Khadim’s has to deal with many more players in India’s hyper-competitive footwear market – from Reliance Footprint to Liberty Shoes to Sreeleathers to Mochi and Relaxo. Leading international players like Adidas , Nike NKE +0.18%, Pavers, Skechers and Crocs also weigh in. Add to this cheap imports from China and India’s own unorganized marketplace with thousands of sellers.

But Khadim’s is holding its own with brands likeBritishWalkers (formal leather shoes); Turk (outdoor shoes) and Sharon (for women). Khadim’sas a brand contributes to more than half the revenues while its sports brand Pro brings in 15 percent of the revenues.

Meanwhile Khadim’s is going big online. In addition to its own ecommerce site, it sells on Flipkart, Snapdeal, Jabong and Amazon.

Khadim’s is banking on the fact that per capita footwear usage will increase from $6.3 in 2013 to $11.6 by 2017, according to Ken Research.

And in a nod to the rural and semi-urban markets it offers its range of rubber slippers and synthetic plastic footwear.

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