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Opportunity 2015-05-28

Footwear brands keen to capture the North East market

The North Eastern region has been declared as special economic zone (SEZ), thereby offering diversifying growth opportunities for the entrepreneurs. Footwear is one such sector for which the demand emanates from all areas. Let us have a look how key playe

By Rashi Mathur, TFW Bureau Feature Writer

Be it metros, UTs, small towns or semi-urban areas; the demand for footwear transcends all boundaries. As per a survey of Pricewaterhouse Coopers Private Ltd, Indian footwear industry is currently valued at US$ 5 billion. The market is currently dominated by the unorganised sector which contributes approximately 70% of the total market. However the increasing presence of established brands and designer labels has created fashion consciousness among the population across India. The population in North East is well abreast about the latest fashion trends and practices and potential investors are all set to grow their base here.

Crocs, one of the leading international casual footwear brands has recently opened Exclusive Brand Outlets (EBOs) in Gangtok, Shillong and Guwahati. Liberty has a presence in Guwhati, Imphal and Manipur. It is looking forward to spread its wings all over Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland, West Bengal, Sikkim and Orissa. Anupam Bansal, Executive Director, Liberty Group says, “There is a great potential in the North East market. However due to lack of logistics connectivity, it is taking time to establish here.” Talking about the untapped potential of the North Eastern market, Asif Merchant, Managing Director, Catwalk Worldwide Private Limited says, “Around 2% of our stores are contributing close to 3.5% of business.”

Other modes of expansion

For most of the brands, online and offline business models co-exist as a strategy for expansion. Nissan Jospeh, General Manager, Crocs India says, “We certainly are present online with a few front runners like Jabong, Amazon and Firstcry. We also have our own online store to cater to the masses. E-retail is a mode of enhancement for any given brand as a customer is just a few clicks away to buy stuff without getting into the hassle of travelling and it saves time in today’s busy lifestyle.” The brands are targeting tier II and III cities also. Rising influence of Western culture and increasing ability to spend is fast driving the demand. Bansal of Liberty Group says, “We have a strong presence in tier II and III cities. They constitute our focus area for expansion. We aim to create a strong brand position for the middle class and provide a convenient access to our stores.” Catwalk Worldwide Private Limited has 101 Points of Sales (POS) in tier II cities and 57 POS in tier III cities.

Best foot forward

Liberty has 500+ franchise units. Apart from North East, it is targeting North Indian places like New Delhi, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Uttaranchal and Uttar Pardesh. As far as Western market is concerned, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Goa are on its expansion radar. It is robust on growing in the South, Centre and UTs. Catwalk is keen on adding 60 POS per annum. Thus with changing demographics, footwear industry is indeed growing in leaps and bounds.

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