Bata eyes smaller towns

The company has introduced its new non-executive chairman, Uday Khanna, who will take over the reins from PM Sinha in July

Bata India will focus on tier II and III cities and rural markets for growing its turnover four times over the next five years. P M Sinha on Tuesday retired as chairman of India’s largest shoemaker.

Uday Khanna, former managing director and CEO of Lafarge India, took over as the new chairman of Bata, which was approved at a board meeting of the company. The company is also bringing in a number of new people at the top in various capacities.

The company recorded a turnover of Rs 1,277.09 crore in the last financial year, up 15 per cent from the FY09 turnover of Rs 1,112.59 crore.

Outlining the company’s expansion plan, the outgoing Bata chairman said that the company had already set up a team for rural expansion and it would use its network of wholesalers to expand in those markets. “We have already designed shoes for rural areas. The company will now open 70 to 80 stores across the country with a capital outlay of Rs 1.5 crore per store,” said Sinha. At present, the company has 1,250 stores across the country.

To back up the rural expansion plan, the shoemaker is also working on a model to develop small and medium enterprises (SMEs). “We will invest Rs 100 crore adjacent to our factory at Batanagar in West Bengal to develop new SMEs,” he said.