Providing shoes with souls

A host of footwear retailers in the market today offer the customers a range of shoes making them quite spoilt for choice. In a conversation with Rafiq Malik, MD, Metro Shoes, who enlightens us with the uniqueness of Metro Shoes.
Rafiq Malik

A host of footwear retailers in the market today offer the customers a range of shoes making them quite spoilt for choice. In a conversation with Rafiq Malik, MD, Metro Shoes, who enlightens us with the uniqueness of Metro Shoes. 

Jasmeet Sahi (JS): How did Metro Shoes come into origin? 
Rafiq Malik (RM):
It started with my father who was working in a shoe shop at Grant Road. In the 1950s we started our first store at Colaba Causeway. I joined the business in 1969 when we opened another store near Regal Cinema.  

JS: What is the USP of Metro Shoes?
RM:
It is basically the variety that we offer and also the kind of service that we provide. Our USP is the number of styles for every kind of customer. I do not think any other retailer offers so many styles and so much variety. 

JS: What is your latest marketing strategy?
RM:
We started expansion of our stores in 1976, when we decided to go national. We first opened our stores in Calcutta and Chennai. Now we have almost 100 stores in 35 cities all over India. This is because our marketing strategy also focuses on our original philosophy of ‘variety and service’. This has led to our success in tier I, II and tier III cities. 

JS: Can you elaborate on the strategy that attracts your consumers these days?
RM:
We have noticed that most shoe retailers concentrate on the segment which is similar to our segment. There is a vast market which is untapped in the value segment with nobody offering a good variety of balanced footwear at a valued price. We have also seen a lot of people in tier II and tier II cities aspiring for better brands. Hence we have introduced a new brand - MSL, 'More Shoes for Less'. This new concept offers the Indian customer trendy merchandise with good quality, good service at a very affordable price. Our average price of shoes is Rs 400.  

JS: What kind of clientele are you catering to with this strategy?
RM:
People who are currently visiting the unorganised sector buy merchandise not for its quality but only for the low prices that they come at. We are also targeting tier II tier III cities with a population of just over a hundred thousand and offering them branded footwear at a price they can afford. 

JS: What are the future plans of the company?
RM:
See, we found that the slowdown that happened offered tremendous opportunity for us, because real estate, media etc became much more affordable. This was quite a boon as it helped us open 35 stores this year, which is far more than we have done before. Real estate was available at reasonable prices. So if this trend of calibrated growth continues, then we plan to grow quite aggressively. In fact we plan to add another 50 stores next year if the real estate prices remain stable.
 

Rafiq Malik, MD, Metro Shoes
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