Next stop for footwear giants-Northeast India

Next stop for footwear giants
Guwahati, Oct. 27: There is every reason for footwear companies to look towards the Northeast if one can get a branded footwear showroom in a far-flung place like Along in West Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh.
Reebok, the Number One sports shoe company in India, opened a showroom in Along two months back and netted Rs 4 lakh in a month, proving that distance was no excuse for companies to stay away from the Northeast.
The company has 30 showrooms in the Northeast and will be adding another 10 in a year’s time. “We are looking at the market in hill areas where the indigenous people love to wear good shoes and are looking at branded products,” a Reebok official said adding that the company would also be setting up showrooms in Tura, Pasighat and other areas.
Liberty Shoes, a $150 million company, also announced last week that it had plans to expand its presence in the Northeast. This is an indicator towards the region’s potential as a footwear market, which is spurring new players to set up shop here.
Currently, Liberty is among the top five manufacturers of leather footwear of the world, producing more than 50,000 pairs a day, using more than 3 lakh square feet of leather per month.
Liberty Group director Ayush Bansal said, “We are seeing Assam and the Northeast as a potential market and the company is planning to strengthen its network by opening new stores. The total business in the Northeast is Rs 10 crore and the target is to make it Rs 15 crore in the coming months.”
The company, which has a market share of 12 per cent in the region, has six showrooms at present and is planning to increase it to 15 within a year and a half and also to double its market share in the next five years. “We have a wide variety of shoes and are here to stay,” he said.
The company has also announced appointment of Hrithik Roshan as its brand ambassador in an attempt to connect with the youths by giving the brand a vibrant and youthful makeover. “Besides, the collection is superbly stylish yet comfortable, just how we all like it,” he said.
The special collection will be released after Diwali and will have shoes ranging from Rs 1,600 to Rs 6,000.
The footwear sector is a very significant segment of the leather industry in India. Rather, it is the engine of growth for the entire Indian leather industry.
India is the second largest global producer of footwear after China, accounting for 13 per cent of global footwear production of 16 billion pairs. India produces 2,065 million pairs of different categories of footwear (leather footwear: 909 million pairs, leather shoe uppers: 100 million pairs and non-leather footwear: 1,056 million pairs). About 115 million pairs are exported.
This implies that nearly 95 per cent of all footwear produced in the country is consumed in the country itself.
“People in the Northeast want branded shoes and they do not mind spending more money for it. They are brand conscious,” Dhanani Shoes Limited director Washim Dhanani said.
He said as the situation had improved in the Northeast, companies were flocking into the region to sell their products. “The footwear market in the Northeast is growing at 15 per cent annually and will greatly improve in the next five years.”
Metro Shoes, which opened shop last year in Guwahati, is looking to expand to other places in Assam. “Though we did not do good this year, there are plans to expand,” a manager of the Metro Shoes storeroom here said.
Woodland had opened its outlet here in 2007 after thoroughly surveying the shoe market. “Business was good when we started in 2007. After three years, it’s even better. Our customers normally belong to the age group range of 20 to 30 years and the popular shoes range from Rs 3,000 to Rs 4,000,” A. Chatterjee, a Woodland employee, said.
The formal shoes for men are priced between Rs 2,995 and Rs 9,000, while the casual shoes range between Rs 1,995 and Rs 4,495. Women’s shoes are priced between Rs 1,395 and Rs 7,000.


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