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Shoes for well-heeled
- Big brands walk in on Rs 45,000 a pair

Mumbai, Aug. 30: The Big Boots are marching in.

Multi-million dollar footwear brands ' Moreschi, Rosetti, Hugo Boss and Louis Vuitton from Europe, and Brown Shoes and Nautica of the US ' are preparing to stomp into the Indian market with their eyes firmly set on the well-heeled.

India has been attracting haute fashion labels but the only footwear brands that have come here till date are Nike, Reebok and Adidas. Except for the odd Florsheim and Hush Puppies, the leather footwear pashas have tended to sidestep India.

Not any more.

Tata International, the largest Indian leather exporter, has now tied up with Lloyd, a leading German footwear maker whose shoes will retail in Indian showrooms stretching from Rs 9,000 to Rs 45,000 a pair for men. The women’s range starts from Rs 8,000.

LloydGmbH plans to hawk its top-of-the-line footwear through multi-brand luxury retail outlets. It has already set up a stump in the city and, by the year-end, will introduce an exclusive Lloyd store in Delhi.

Its signature trademark is the red stripe in its heels. Sudhir Deoras, the managing director of Tata International, said that his company is getting a lot of offers from global majors.

“When I attended a recent exhibition in the US, the interest shown by big brands like Nautica and Brown Shoes to get a toehold in the Indian market was tremendous,” he said.

Deoras added: “All of them were interested in setting up a front end in the country.”

The premium brands sport pricey tags. Typically, Canali Dress shoes could cost anywhere in the region of Rs 16,000 to Rs 24,000 a pair. Moreschi’s could drill a hole in the wallet with its shoes priced between Rs 11,000 and Rs 24,000 per pair, while Fratelli Rosetti’s flexa shoes could cost more.

The premium brands, including Lloyd’s, are positioned as a high quality brand targeted at the elegant and chic professionals in the age group of 25 to 50 years.

On the anvil are plans to open stores in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai and Calcutta.

“The size of the premium market we are addressing is Rs 500 crore to Rs 600 crore,” Deoras said.

“We believe there is great potential in India. We are going to be selective as far as the cities are concerned,” said Maximilian Mueller, the managing director of Lloyd.

Lloyd is a well-established lifestyle brand part of the Ara group and sells close to 14 million pairs of shoes a year.

Deoras said Tata International is free to tie up with other major shoe brands if the offer is attractive enough. Lloyd is, however, bound by an exclusive type of an arrangement with the Tata company. Lloyd already has a presence in China where it has seven stores retailing premium footwear. But will they find buyers in India where even Bata shoes are considered expensive by sections of the Indian middle class' “We’ll get in touch directly with discerning customers,” Deoras said. The footwear giants are also talking to players like Mirza Tanners and CrewBos. Tata International is an unlisted company within the Tata group and exports leather products to many of the large footwear brands.

It took the company more than two years to finalise the arrangement with Lloyd. It may not take more than that for other products. ‘We are looking at building our brands. Maybe, we’ll look at acquisitions also,” Deoras said.

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