Companies

Lockdown 4.0 : Bata India opens more than 800 stores

Meenakshi Verma Ambwani New Delhi | Updated on May 26, 2020

Sandeep Kataria, CEO, Bata India   -  Debasish Bhaduri

Steps up focus on online channel, new products in line with evolving consumer needs

With the government relaxing norms for non-essential stores in lockdown 4.0, Bata India has managed to open more than 50 per cent of its stores across the country. The leading footwear company is also stepping up its focus on introducing new products to meet the evolving needs of consumers during this pandemic, while strengthening the brand’s presence on the online channel.

Speaking to reporters, Sandeep Kataria, CEO, Bata India said, “We have now opened 809 stores, which is about 53 per cent of our selling points across the country. We are adhering to the state and district official directives which includes operating stores for limited number of hours or on some days of the week, with 50 per cent staff.” He said that while some states are still in the process of opening up, others are taking a more cautious approach.

Besides following hygiene and sanitisation protocols, the company is offering contactless trials, payments and e-invoices to consumers including quarantine protocols of 72 hours being followed for shoes that have been tried at the stores,

Kataria said that the company is not looking to offer any discounts at the moment as the intention is not to make consumers rush back to stores. Keeping in mind evolving needs of consumers , the company has launched new collections including work from home collection and easy to wash collections. “We are also rolling out new products including anti-viral washable masks and disinfecting sprays and wipes for bags and footwear across our stores,” he said.

As consumers increasingly turn to online ordering during Covid-19, Bata India has rolled out WatsApp shopping options for home delivery option serviced by its stores. It has also stepped up focus on online deliveries through its own website and e-commerce platforms. “We can see escalation in demand on our website and seeing some amount of sales shifting to the online channel. But it remains to be seen if this sustains in the long-term in categories like footwear, where consumers want to see comfort and design of the products,” Kataria said.

Talking about measures to manage fixed costs, Kataria said that nearly 50 per cent of the landlords have agreed for rent waivers and move to more sustainable agreements. “In the short-term, we are not looking to raise prices of our products. We are not looking at opening new stores in the next 3-6 months but incomplete projects will be completed,” he added .

The company said consumers are expected to focus on shopping for essential footwear products and hence stores in residential areas and smaller markets are doing better in terms of sales than those located in high streets. “Consumers will remain cautious in spending and will focus on more need-based purchases rather than desire-based purchases in the short term,” said Ashwani Windlass, Chairman, Bata India. Footwear products priced below ₹1,000 are also expected to see more demand than premium products in the short term.

Published on May 26, 2020

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