The Economic Times: December 19, 2014
Bata India, one of the oldest multinationals operating in India operating here for more than eight decades and the country's largest footwear retailer, plans to increase its focus on e-commerce and digital platforms, having increased its appeal among the younger generations.
Bata, which currently operates around 1,400 stores nationwide with an annual revenue of about Rs 2,000 crore, is eyeing $1-billion (approx. Rs 6,000 crore) revenues in the next three-four years, says Thomas G Bata, chairman of Bata Shoe Company. ET's Shambhavi Anand & Rasul Bailay caught up with Bata, grandson of the company's founder Tomas Bata, for an interview during his recent visit to the country. Edited excerpts:
You are strong on the manufacturing front. Are you also ready for e-commerce?
Oh yes. We have an e-commerce platform already. We have a Bata club in some countries where 70% of our sales come from there. By 2015 we plan to start a click and pick model in India or may be a click and reserve model, where a customer can choose a pair of shoes that they like and pick it up later from the store. This way sometimes the customers end up buying other things also. Also if they don't like the shoes that they picked up on the e-commerce platform then they can get something else. So we are building a profile of 10 million customers. We are trying to integrate digital with our retail stores.
When you increase focus on e-commerce, will the expansion of physical stores slow down?
Not at all. India is a big market. There is a large part of the market which is beyond digital. Our stores expansion plan will be similar to the last couple of years. We have been adding 100 stores year-on-year. It will be like this for the next couple of years. We want 10% of our sales from digital. However, there is no timeline for this. There will be more and more destination stores coming up. We have such a store in the electronic city of Bangalore which is getting very good response. These are all 6,000 sq ft stores. More than a national advertising campaign we focus on marketing activities in our stores, like getting a local celebrity in one of the shops.
How relevant is Bata in modern day India?
We have become relevant to the young buyers. We brought down the average age of our customers from 35-plus to 25-plus. We don't intend to take it lower. We have reinvented and now have more brands in our portfolio.
There is Hush Puppies and Footin. These are specialised brands for specific target market. Bata will cater to the core customer and will focus on comfort. We will not get distracted by fashion. For customers who are looking for fashion we have brands like Footin. There are separate stores for that. The Bata stores will not have everything. We are planning to revive our old brand Power in 2015.
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