With the Quality Control Order (QCO) for footwear slated to be enforced from July 1 in the country, retailers have sought more time for the implementation of these norms. Industry bodies in their representations have urged the government to give footwear retailers additional time of 8-10 months from the effective date of the QCO for footwear manufacturers. This request is being made so that to retailers are able to place orders and procure stocks of BIS compliant footwear from manufacturers.

The Department for Promotion and Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) had issued QCO for footwear made from leather, rubber and polymer in 2020. Once implemented, it will make it mandatory for footwear manufacturers to conform with Indian Standards. All footwear products will also need to bear a Standard Mark under a license from the Bureau of Indian Standards.

Extension sought

Industry bodies such as Retailers Association of India(RAI) , Confederation of All India Trader (CAIT), Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and PHDCCI have shot off representations to DPIIT on this matter. These industry bodies have asked for extension in timelines for implementation of the QCO and have raised concerns about lack of clarity in terms of applicability of the order on the inventory, manufactured and procured prior to June 30.

A representation from FICCI stated that only a miniscule number of manufacturers and suppliers have been able to get the the BIS licences so far. “At the current pace the certification process for the majority of manufacturers will not be completed even after the QCO’s effective date”, it added. Industry bodies have also raised concerns about lack of internal testing facilities at the majority of footwear testing facilities.

Practical difficulties

In its representation, Retailers Association of India pointed out that even if all manufacturers are granted BIS licenses by June 30, it will not be feasible for retailers and wholesalers of footwear to comply with QCO from the same date as applicable for manufacturers. This is because retailers will be saddled with inventories of footwear manufactured prior to July 1, it added.

“Assuming all or majority of manufacturers getting BIS licenses by 30th June, 2023, the retailers would still require a lead time of around 4-6 months for placing purchase orders, designing process, manufacturing of customized /assorted orders, logistics and last mile transportation till pan-India retail stores to maintain sufficient inventory,” RAI stated in its letter.

Hence, these industry bodies have urged the Centre that footwear retailers should be given “sufficient lead time from the date of implementation of QCO by the manufacturers, i.e. 8-10 months from the effective date for the manufacturer.”

Earlier, Centre had decided to extend the date of implementation of QCO for footwear sector from July 1 2022 by an year