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Jun, 04 2015

Footwear retailers seek investors in small towns & cities for strong foothold

According to the recent reports, Indian footwear market is currently valued at US$ 5 billion. It is growing at 15% CAGR and all leading brands are eyeing to establish themselves pan-India.

It rightly goes for the entrepreneurs, 'with your brain immersed in right business acumen and feet in your shoes; your footwear business is set to excel in whichever city you choose.' Metros and tier-I cities are targeted on a priority for business expansion. However, the tier-II and III cities have equal potential as footwear is one such sector for which demand emanates from all areas. The population here is well abreast about the latest fashion trends and practices and entrepreneurs are all set to grow their base.

Shifting trends to tier-II and III cities

The bulk of Indian population resides in tier-II and III cities. Rising influence of Western culture and increasing ability to spend is fast driving the demand. Anupam Bansal, Executive Director, 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.

North Eastern market lies latent

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 spreading its wings all over Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland, West Bengal, Sikkim and Orissa. 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.”

Online presence and M-commerce

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.” However for Catwalk omni-presence is the way forward as there lies opportunity in all channels. As far as M-commerce is concerned, Bansal of Liberty opines it to be in its nascent stage. As the customer experience will evolve many developments will take place in this arena. Woodland also follows multiple channels including brick-and-mortar stores, multi-branded retail outlets, multi-branded e-commerce portals as well as its own e-tailing venture. Harkirat Singh, Managing Director, Woodland India addresses a deep concern over discounting and offers offered by online sites. He explains, “Lately, e-commerce portals have been disturbing the market by offering huge discounts and have imbalanced the entire eco-system. In order to cater to the growing demand across all channels, we have decided to have separate Stock Keeping Units (SKUs) for each of them so that there is no overlapping and one can set their own price points, subject to our mutually agreed costing.”

A whole wide zone to be tapped

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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