You've worn a Bata but here's what you didn't know about the iconic shoe brand
Traditionally, Bata has been a hit with the Indian middle class and probably most of our first pair of shoes had the brand embossed on them. Even now, with several brands to choose from during our indecisive shoe-buying shopping experience, Bata comes across as a relief offering a wide range of affordable and practical shoes.
It's not an Indian company
If you thought Bata is an Indian shoe brand, you are wrong. Bata is a family-owned Czech entity, having been founded in 1894 in the town of Zlin by Tomas Bata, a ninth generation descendant of a family of cobblers and shoemakers.
How Bata came to India
When Tomas Sr died in an aircrash in 1932, the apprentice son, who was only 18, took over the company. He began to expand the company, and arrived in undivided India to source rubber and leather in the mid-1930s travelling from Karachi to what is now Kolkata.
Steeped in Indian culture
During the 1930s, India lacked an organised footwear industry and the shoe market was dominated by Japanese imports. But Bata started manufacturing from Kolkata, and in 1939 it had nearly 4,000 employees and 86 shops. It was selling nearly 3,500 pairs of shoes per week.
The first India-made shoe machine was produced by Bata in 1942. A leather footwear factory was established at Patna, Bihar, which is known today as Bataganj.
Bata makes a lot of shoes
Bata now owns 23 manufacturing facilities in 18 countries around the world, including Indonesia, India, Italy and China. More than 30,000 people work for Bata. Bata was the largest shoe company in Europe during early 1900s with the company producing about 2,200 pairs of shoes a day.
By 2003, Bata was selling 160 million pairs of shoes a year. In 2004, Guinness World Records recognised Bata as the world's largest shoe manufacturer and retailer for having sold more than 14 billion pairs of shoes.
In 2001, the company established Tomas Bata University in Zlin, Czech Republic. The university enrolls about 9,700 students and has six faculties offering courses in technology, economics, humanities, arts, logistics and crisis management, and health care.
Strong footing in India
Bata has sold 6.3 lakh pairs of shoes through online last year across 750 markets in India. In 2016, the company started the franchisee store operations last year with around 30 stores which has proved to be successful whereby it has already been expanded to 50 outlets. There are currently 1,300 company-owned stores.