Bata India incorporates new subsidiary to revamp wholesale biz

As part of its evolving marketing strategy, Bata India is strengthening its wholesale and business-to-business (B2B) segment through the formation of its new wholly-owned subsidiary, Way Finders Brands.

Way Finders Brands, incorporated on December 26, 2014, will trade in footwear, apparel and accessories (caps, socks and belts) in wholesale and B2B segment, according to the latest annual report of Way Finders Brands. The May 2015 report also stated that the subsidiary was in the process of negotiating
and finalising relevant vendors, customers, and e-commerce service providers for the same.

Bata India refused to divulge further details of the company, and an email sent to the spokesperson went unanswered.

“The company will seek support from Bata India Limited, the holding company, and use its distribution network to facilitate the business expansion of your company (Way Finders Brands). The company will also be engaged in trading on wholesale basis the footwear and accessories of various worldwide reputed brands in and abroad,” says the annual report of Way Finders Brands.

The existing urban wholesale division of Bata India consists of 11 depots across the country, according to Bata India’s latest annual report. The division sells brands such as Remo, Batatech, Macho, Comfortina, Kool Kids, Sandak and Batalite. The vertical sells Bata products through 340 distributors and 45,000 independent footwear dealers. Also, the wholesale division has been instrumental to Bata’s reach in tier-II and tier-III cities.

Notably, in the past few years, Bata India has revamped its marketing strategy by focusing on bigger stores at key locations such as malls, high streets and high-density highways. The company is also focusing on its e-commerce vertical by launching exclusive products for online retailing, for which it will create a portfolio of 500 products. Bata India has been facing intense competition from e-commerce websites, offering deep discounts. Recently, R Gopalakrishnan, group managing director of Bata South Asia, had said the company aimed at a five-time increase in online sales to one million pairs by December 2015, compared to 200,000 in calendar year 2014.

Bata India recently announced its plans to invest Rs 80-100 crore in the current financial year in retail, manufacturing and other business units. About 50 per cent of the investments will be in retail expansion.

The company had witnessed sluggish sales growth last year owing to factors such as competition from the e-commerce space and glitches in its supply chain management IT system.

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