Thanks to steady economic development and higher incomes of people, Bangladesh has turned into a lucrative market for multinational retail companies, said Rajeev Gopalakrishnan, president of the Asia-Pacific region of Bata.
“Many global companies that manufacture high-end shoes, sports items, garments and food items are opening their retail outlets in Bangladesh targeting the rising young customers,” he said.
Gopalakrishnan was in Dhaka last week as Bata opened its first sneaker outlet – B-sneakers – on the Gulshan Avenue, to cater to the country’s young people.
“This is the happiest moment for us. This is the first sneaker outlet of Bata worldwide. This is the test case for Bangladesh.”
“We will open a lot of such outlets in Bangladesh in near future,” he told The Daily Star in an interview.
The multinational shoe company has been serving the local customers since 1962. Currently, Bata Shoe Company (Bangladesh) Ltd operates two manufacturing facilities – one in Tongi and the other in Dhamrai.
With a production capacity of 160,000 pairs of shoes daily, its annual sales stand at about 30 million pairs, according to the company’s website.
The turnover of Bata Shoe Company (Bangladesh) stood at Tk 459 crore in the first half this year and it made a profit of Tk 28 crore, data available about the company on the website of the Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE) showed.
Gopalakrishnan also talked about the future of retail business in Bangladesh and future plans of Bata in the country.
“Bata has been in Bangladesh for many years and investing in its own manufacturing units. A huge amount of money will be invested in Bangladesh by Bata in near future.”
The company is targeting the younger population to keep up the growth momentum.
“Young people are travelling abroad and have access to the internet. They know what is happening around the world. Most of them prefer sneakers to formal shoes,” he said.
Sneaker use grows five times more than black and brown formal shoes. “That means everybody is moving to sneakers for use in offices and at everywhere,” Gopalakrishnan said.
Bata is the lone franchisee of internationally renowned brands such as Adidas, Nike, Hush Puppies, and Skechers in Bangladesh. It has its own sneaker brands, namely Power and North Star.
“We have 300 lines of sneakers in the shop. This is the first venture. I am sure the youngsters will come and enjoy the sneakers,” he said, adding that the population aged 15 to 25 years is the targeted customers for B-sneakers.
The sneaker market is growing in Bangladesh as well, he said.
Gopalakrishnan holds a bachelor degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Kerala and has had a successful run at Bata which started more than 26 years ago.
He is upbeat about the robust growth of the retail market in Bangladesh in the coming days. The retail marketing is growing on the back of economic growth.
Bangladesh is one of the world’s fastest growing economies. The economy has nearly tripled in the last decade and continues to grow at around 8 percent per annum, driven by strong domestic demand, private consumption and exports.
“Retail is evolving in Bangladesh. In the next five years, a lot of retail brands will come to the country,” Gopalakrishnan said.
International retailers are opening outlets at prime shopping malls to sell shoes and garment items.
Bata grew substantially in the country last year, he said, without giving any specific number.
Gopalakrishnan said the shoe market is growing in Bangladesh. Bata holds the majority of the market share, at 40 percent.
Since July 2019, Gopalakrishnan has been leading the Asia-Pacific region in the capacity of president.
A listed company on the DSE, Bata has a very good reputation and has been paying more than 300 percent cash dividend since 2015.