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Bata gives local sourcing a leg-up

Calcutta, Nov. 30: Bata India Ltd has decided to revive its practice of procuring some types of shoes locally as a part of the company’s move to enhance dependence on outsourcing to remain cost competitive.

The 51 per cent subsidiary of the Toronto-based Bata Shoe Organisation has started outsourcing from its counterparts in Brazil, Singapore and Malaysia for its high-end shoes.

The ranges which will be procured from the local suppliers are Marie Claire (ladies shoes), Westminister (gents shoes) and some ladies chappals. The shoes will be manufactured by suppliers located at Agra, Noida and Mumbai.

Talking to The Telegraph, vice-president (merchandising) Vinesh Singh said, “We are also in talks with European shoemakers for importing some of the top-end designer shoes and marketing them in India.”

At present, the company sells 60 million shoes annually. Of these, about 40 million shoes are manufactured at the company’s five factories spread across the country. The rest are outsourced.

“The quality of the outsourced shoes will be at par with the shoes manufactured in our own units. If anybody supplies low quality shoes then Bata India will stop procuring from them,” Singh said.

The retail sales of the company has grown 3 to 4 per cent — both in volumes and turnover in the first ten months of the calendar year 2003.

Explaining the rationale behind shifting the merchandising office from Calcutta to Delhi, Singh said the footwear industry has developed enormously in and around Delhi.

“Moreover, the retail boom is taking place in the north. So the company felt that north India should be the focus area. The move is part of the restructuring exercise that we have undertaken to make Bata India a market-driven company,” he said.

Apart from the high-end and mass-market shoes Bata is also hoping to get good returns from its sports shoe category.

Power — the sports shoe brand from the Bata stable — is poised to grow 15-20 per cent by the end of 2004, the vice-president said. The company sells about 1.2 million Power brand shoes annually.

Singh said the sales of other sports shoes like Nike and Reebok are far behind Power.

Bata India imports Power from Malaysia and Singapore. “It is a globally accepted brand. The product has a good brand recall,” said Singh.

Bata India is also exporting its shoes to United Kingdom (school shoes only), France, Czech Republic and West Asia.

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