While shopping at Viviana Mall, Thane, I got a chance to visit the Bata showroom housed in Mumbai’s biggest mall. To my surprise, it was an extremely large showroom for a footwear brand and housed a lot of variety for men, women and kids at different price points; this wasn’t the case some years ago. The brand was largely known for its quality and sturdiness — shoes that would last long but weren’t stylish. It was perceived as a mass-market product that lacked innovation. There was little effort towards brand- and portfolio-building, with the focus directed towards labour issues and cost management. So, rubber and plastic footwear comprised a chunk of Bata’s sales. The swanky 20,000 sq ft showroom is thus an indication of how things have changed.
The management has embarked on a strategy to reduce the ‘Bata-only’ perception. Over the past five years, the company has taken several steps to compete in more segments and launch new product lines. Innovation came into focus while the company widened its portfolio. Although Bata continues to leverage its homegrown brand, it has strengthened lines such as Hush Puppies, Marie Claire, Bubblegummers and North Star. Today, its bouquet comprises low-range products to high-end leather items for men, women and kids.
The focus is now on increasing the share of high-value products. The leather segment has higher margins compared with rubber, canvas and plastic. Within the segment, the thrust is on Hush Puppies, which, in turn, has improved the revenue mix towards value-added p