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Shoe sales thrive ahead of Eid. Eid brings great opportunity to expand their business.

A number of footwear manufacturers are expanding business networks, pinning their hopes on brisk sales ahead of the Eid.

Local sales of footwear hover between Tk 6,000 and Tk 7,000 crore a year, and 40 percent of the turnover comes during the Eid-ul-Fitr, said Abu Taher, chairman of Bangladesh Finished Leather, Leather Goods and Footwear Exporters Association.

Though the home market has been dominated by multinational company Bata and local brand Apex for quite long, several local companies have emerged in recent times seeking to tap into the growing domestic demand.

Orion Footwear, which entered footwear business only three and a half months back, has already opened two outlets in Chittagong, and is going to launch two more in the capital soon.

With the opening of four new showrooms, Orion would have nine outlets across the country, said Md Ruhul Amin Molla, chief executive officer of the firm.

“We have set a sales target of Tk 5 crore during this festival. We hope to achieve it as we offer quality products with attractive designs manufactured by our local suppliers and also by leading foreign brands,” he said.

Prices of Orion shoes range from Tk 500 to Tk 10,000 a pair, while those of a foreign brand could cost up to Tk 20,000.

The footwear company, a concern of Orion Group, plans to invest around Tk 150 crore in the next five years to expand its business.

“Our aim is to become the number one brand in Bangladesh in the next five years and help the country reduce footwear imports,” he said.

Another local shoe manufacturer, Bay Emporium, has opened five more stores in Dhaka, Barisal, Cox's Bazar and Rajbari ahead of the Eid.

“We may open one or two more outlets before this Eid,” said Abdul Quader, chief executive officer of the footwear company that emerged in 2006.

With more than 1,000 models of footwear, Bay Emporium caters mainly to middle-income groups. It has plans to raise the number of outlets to a hundred by 2017 to meet the growing demand.

“After readymade garment, footwear is the country's most potential sector,” said Quader.

Cheap labour here could attract foreign investment. Political stability, business-friendly environment and low bank interest rates are essential for both local and foreign investment in this sector, he added.

According to data of the Export Promotion Bureau, Bangladesh exported leather, footwear and leather products worth $204.44 million from July to May in fiscal 2014-15. The amount was $205.03 million during the same period in the previous year.

Abu Taher, chairman of Fortuna Bangladesh, said high bank interest rates are a barrier to expansion of footwear business, as entrepreneurs need credit to expand their networks.

“We have 18 outlets that sell footwear and leather products. We have plans to expand the network across the country. But we need credit from banks,” he said, adding that the bank interest rate is around 15 percent in Bangladesh while it is only 3-4 percent in China.

Leatherex Group, which has been exporting footwear and leather products mainly to Japan since 2000, has opened five stores in the capital to provide quality products to local consumers.

The group didn't have any plan to launch new outlets ahead of the Eid, but it would open 10 showrooms by December this year, said its Chairman Nazmul Hassan.

Zeil's is another local footwear brand that has 18 stores in Dhaka, Chittagong, Tangail, Sylhet, Rajshahi, Dinajpur and other parts of the country.

It plans to open another outlet in Bogra before the Eid, said an official at the company's Farmgate outlet.

The prices of Zeil's footwear range between Tk 250 and Tk 3,990, said the official.

Multinational company Bata, which started operation in Bangladesh in 1962, has the largest footwear retail network here with 270 outlets and over 500 dealers.

Apex Footwear, the second largest footwear retailer in the country, has 180 outlets and 380 authorised resellers.

Rajan Pillai, chief operating officer of Apex, said they launched 10 more showrooms across the country in the last two months. “We also plan to open three more outlets before the Eid.”

Courtesy_ The Daily Star
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